Many companies I talk to have some form of customer engagement in place, but not many of them take a strategic approach.
Our cyclical approach to customer engagement takes into account the constant adaption that is needed to be successful. True customer engagement involves continual learning and progressive changes to your business operating model in response to changes in the market.
Step 1 Listen to your customers
I believe it’s important to take the time to listen to your customer wants and needs. If you understand how they want to engage with your company you will build the value of each customer.
Listening can be done through a multitude of channels, including but not limited to.
• Email surveys
• Online forms
• Monitoring of social media
• Telephone interviews
• Customer discussion groups
As a marketer you need to find the right listening tool for your target market taking into consideration your resources.
Step 2 Use Your Data
Unfortunately too few companies use data effectively. Harnessing the power of data can be a profitable experience for any company. With so much information available it’s important you get experts in place to pull out meaningful insights from this data. These insights will be the base for developing your customer engagement strategy.
Data will also help during the test and learn phase, identifying which communications channel work best for both the customer and your company.
Before the first communication goes out make sure your internal customer engagement plan is in place and that everyone knows their roles and responsibilities, which brings me nicely onto my next point.
Step 3 Empower your employees
Embedding a customer first culture within your company may require a cultural shift. Employees may need to be given more trust and responsibility for managing a relationship with a customer or access to systems previously prohibited.
For example, it’s no good asking customers to engage with you on Facebook if the majority of your staff have their access blocked.
Any cultural change will need to come from the top down. If your employee satisfaction is high then they are far more likely to deliver a better service. The knock on effect, increased brand loyalty.
Step 4 Technology and touch points
You’ll need to identify all the ways through which a customer can engage with your company. Touch points could include emails, SMS messages, meetings, phone calls, etc. Most importantly, the customer experience needs to be consistent.
Balancing the online and offline engagement can sometimes be tricky. An ad hoc method will not work. The best approach is to understand how your customers want to engage with your business, which you’ll discover during the ‘Listening’ phase.
The wrong approach – ‘Let’s send out a few emails and see what happens’. Two things will probably happen – nothing, which is the most likely or you’ll receive a deluge of enquiries from prospects with very little chance of ever being customers.
An example of how messages can go wrong…
Many companies sent out New Year’s messages and too many got it wrong. Have a look at this link: ‘Happy New Year’ messages to go live a day early.
Technology and customer engagement go hand-in-hand when a strategic approach is taken.
Social media channels improve customer service scores.
Online self-service improves user experience and reduces overheads.
More data is collected providing greater insight.
Opportunities to add value to your proposition are created.
Stronger relationships are built with the personal touch.
Step 5 Delivering
Ultimately you need to deliver on your promises but even more than that, your customer engagement strategy needs to demonstrate how you add value to your customers’ lives. ‘Going the extra mile’ for your customers through a well devised strategy that involves your staff in place will, in my opinion, result in better results for your company.
We’d be interested to know what steps you’ve taken to improve your customer experience so why not share them with us on LinkedIn?
Till next time