It used to be called “customer engagement”, but they might as well call it customer entanglement. The reason? Companies in 2017 are more involved in their customers’ lives than ever. Instead of simply interacting with them before and after the sale, studies in marketing recommend staying engaged indefinitely to keep customers in the loop.
Through loyalty programs, social media, direct mail, online advertising, public relations and other efforts, companies are establishing and maintaining lifelong relationships with their customers to garner more substantial results. With so many new consumers in the mix, a whole new level of sophistication is being put into practice by companies of all sizes to keep their customers engaged. They are achieving this via a wide range of online digital and conventional methods.
It’s a winning equation for both consumers and companies alike, because it helps both parties to achieve their goals. Consumers want to be more closely connected to the companies whose products and services they use, and companies want to communicate continually with their best customers. As a result, customers who stay engaged with a company will normally spend 20% to 40% more time interacting with them online, according to Hubspot.
To keep the relationship going strong, businesses need to think differently or be left behind. Here are five deliverables that must be cultivated in the mind of any organization that wants to attract and retain its customers for the long haul.
Be Better Listeners
Creating effective tools to promote customer engagement is no longer a one-time task, or something a company does quarterly or even monthly. Now, your brand ought to be in your customers’ minds all the time. To achieve this, marketers have to be interested and engaged with what their customers are doing in order to stay ahead of trends and identify fads. Companies covet the peer-to-peer relationships that are developed one-on-one. People love to share personal stories about products and services they prefer, and that’s the sweet spot that every marketer wants to tap into for obvious reasons. By paying more attention to what consumers are saying via online reviews and social media, companies can learn their customers’ habits quickly and accurately, then respond promptly if needed. “Adapt or die” is the motto when it comes to customer engagement, and listening carefully to your customers is a big part of that.
Have a definitive plan
Periodically jumping in and out when it comes to your customer engagement efforts won’t work anymore. You need a well-designed strategy– and you need to stick to it. When you engage with your customers, have a clear goal in mind, whether that’s improving your product or adding features that your customers have asked for. 70% of Americans are willing to spend an average of 13% more with companies who they feel provide superior customer service, according to Inc.com. This means that all of your customer engagement endeavors should lead directly to some type of offer, decision or action, backed by a definitive plan.
Going mobile 24/7
More and more people are using their personal devices to buy products and services. 68% of all U.S. adults have a smartphone, and tablet computer ownership has edged up to 45% among adults, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. Smartphone ownership is nearing the saturation point with people ages 18-29 who own a smartphone (86%), ages 30-49 (83%) and of those living in households earning $75,000-plus annually (88%). The biggest part of all those stats is this one–78% of all smartphone owners use mobile apps for customer service purposes. So face it people, we are deep into the mobile age and it’s not going to change. If your company is not engaging with customers via their mobile devices with consistency, the amount of lost revenue opportunities are clearly unknown. Make 100% sure that all of your online customer engagement offers, surveys or loyalty programs are easily accessed on personal devices.
Building two-way relationships is a necessity
If you truly want to engage with your customers effectively, treat them more like friends than customers. Too many companies milk their customers dry with a different offer every other day it seems. Your approach to customer engagement shouldn’t be all about sales and marketing, but rather more about developing friendships with your client base. To this end, value the feedback you receive from your customers and share it with your staff. If you’re listening to what your clients are saying about you, you will know to accurately respond and improve your products, services or processes if needed. The result will be that you will get more loyal customers and they will receive what they’ve asked for, which is the ultimate goal of any customer engagement campaign.
Make it all easier
There’s a big world out there when it comes to all of the different approaches that you can use to stay engaged with your customer for the long run. In-product messaging, email, mobile, social media and customer care/support are the five leading ways that companies achieve top-tier results. The companies that truly excel do it all well. The role of any savvy marketer is to provide its customers with the right tools to enable easy and natural interaction. You need to be easily available and highly visible, but you should also offer options for varied types of interactions. If you can offer your customers an intuitive tool rather than just a platform for communicating with you, they will take the reins and do the rest themselves!
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