Customer engagement is an intrinsic part of your customer, product, and brand journeys. Without engaged customers, you’re unlikely to secure repeat business, win out against your competitors, or carve out a decent share of the market.
But we’re here to talk about customer engagement. So, if you’re ready to progress to the next level in your customer engagement journey, let’s get going.
What is a customer engagement strategy?
A customer engagement strategy is a means of giving your customers the best possible experience with your brand. It encompasses the entire customer journey, from first interaction to after-sales care. The strategy itself is a plan for capturing the attention of your customers, communicating with them consistently, building a relationship, and improving satisfaction levels. It’s about treating them as humans, so that you can understand their full story.
The most successful customer engagement strategies are measurable, and capable of adapting and responding to customer needs – allowing you to take feedback, monitor performance, and iterate as you go.
Benefits of creating a customer engagement strategy
Before we get into the ins and outs of creating a killer customer engagement strategy, let’s look at why it’s worth it.
You’ll improve customer loyalty
Happy customers are repeat customers. By improving the overall customer experience, you’re making it more likely that people will keep on coming back for more. You really need patience with this one, as it takes more than a single interaction to secure loyal customers. Conversely, a single negative experience with your brand can put people off for life – so focusing on customer engagement throughout the entire customer journey is crucial.
You’ll build real relationships
People really hate inauthentic sales pitches: instead, most humans want to feel a connection. That’s why creating a genuine relationship with your customers is so valuable. When you develop a customer engagement strategy that really hits the mark, it’s easy for people to see why they should choose your brand over that of your competitors, which is what it’s all about. So, think about what you’re giving to your customers, rather than what you’re getting from them (this will help you to lead with authenticity).
You’ll bag some top-notch referrals
Whether customers have a good or bad experience with your brand, they’re going to tell other people about it. In our digitally-driven era, most people head online to check out brand, service, and product reviews before making any firm purchasing decisions – so tip the scales in your favour by creating a customer experience worth shouting about. A good customer engagement strategy can increase your chances of positive online and word-of-mouth referrals and help to take your business to the next level.
You’ll understand your customers’ perspective
A focus on customer engagement helps you to see things from the viewpoint of the people who really matter in all of this: your customers. The more you understand about the people who are buying from you, the easier it’ll be to sell to them. Keeping a customer-centric mindset means you’ll be developing products and services that really address a need and deliver true consumer satisfaction. You’ll also be able to target your messaging and personalise the customer experience with greater ease.
You’ll help your business to grow
It is possible to make sales without truly engaging your customers, but you won’t get any real, long-term success that way. If you really want to build sustainable business growth, you need more than a pushy sales pitch or a flashy offer: you need to be memorable, for all the right reasons. A solid customer engagement strategy will make you stand out for quality, value, and a personalised touch – and it’s this experience that will keep customers coming back and help you to grow your market share.
You’ll see an upturn in your brand value
The value of your brand is determined by a great many factors, but one of the most powerful ways of increasing that value is through focused customer engagement. You want people to see the value in what you bring to the table, so they’re left in no doubt about why they should buy from you and keep buying from you. With the right customer engagement strategy, you’ll ensure people see you as a solution to their problems, rather than a simple product. Ultimately, this is about focusing on your value, over and above your bottom line.
How to improve customer engagement
Right then, let’s take a look at the 12 best customer engagement strategies that you can get to work on right away.
1. Map out the customer journey
First things first, you need to get to the bottom of who your customers are, and the journey they take when interacting with and purchasing from your brand. Without this (extremely valuable) know-how, you can’t even begin to create an overarching customer engagement strategy. So, start by pinpointing every touchpoint a potential customer will have with your brand – identifying opportunities for engagement, and looking out for any problems.
This knowledge will help you to understand more about the needs and behaviours of your customers.
2. Communicate your company’s story and vision for the future
You’re trying to establish a rapport with your customers and create a level of human engagement. One way to do that is by showing people why they should care. Who are you? Where did you come from? What do you stand for? What’s your ethos? Where do you want to be in the future? And how are you going to bring your loyal, valuable customers along for the ride?
This will help you to establish more of a connection with would-be customers.
3. Develop a great customer loyalty program
The Boots advantage card, Tesco club card, Costa rewards card…these are all great examples of loyalty programs that help to build customer engagement. But it’s not just about getting freebies or money off: people like to feel valued; especially customers who are expected to part with their hard-earned cash. If you can show people that they really matter to you, you’ll find it far easier to engage them.
Incentives are a great way to reward loyal customers for brand engagement.
4. Get personal with your interactions
A great customer engagement tactic is the use of personalisation. When an email contains our name, or an advert tailor its recommendations to our local area, we feel seen. With so many communications coming our way throughout the day, it’s easy for messages to get lost in a sea of social posts, sales emails, newsletters and ads – but when something is tailored specifically to us, it makes us more likely to sit up and take note.
Personalisation helps to engage customers by making them feel like more than just a number.
5. Get to grips with social listening
If you’re going to tailor your comms to your customers, you need to listen to what they want (and what they already think of you). Employing social listening – which, by the way, is something that Forsta can most definitely help you with – is like having your own personal spy on hand. You get to hear how you stack up against your competitors, what customers love about your brand, and what’s putting people off your products or services.
Social listening helps you to understand how best to engage your customers, because you’ll know what they want to see from you.
6. Create useful content
A good customer engagement strategy will always factor in what you can offer to your customers – above and beyond the thing that you’re selling. By creating helpful (and shareable) content, you’re adding value to your offering. It’s worth noting that potential customers are more likely to search for the answer to a problem than they are to search for your brand; having a body of content that addresses the challenges you set out to solve will help to position you as a thought leader, and a brand that people can trust.
Creating great content gives your customers something they can engage with.
7. Bring on the free benefits
As well as customer loyalty schemes, consider giveaways for your most valuable customers. This does need to be something that they will value though: now, that doesn’t mean it has to cost a lot of money; just that it should be tailored to an actual need or want. If you’re watching your budget, this could even be free information that will really help to solve a problem.
To entice new customers, give them a free taster of what’s on offer.
8. Maximise brand interactions with a relatable voice
We’ve already covered the benefits of social listening, but we need to take a minute to talk about your brand voice, and how you interact with customers online. Creating a consistent tone of voice that you use for all brand interactions will really help to engage customers and deepen that connection. While what you say will differ, your brand voice should stay the same whether you’re dealing with a complaint or chatting to a customer on a Facebook post.
Social media gives you a golden opportunity to diffuse negative feedback and capitalise on stellar reviews. Keeping your brand voice consistent will strengthen your level of engagement.
9. Invest in a chatbot
Human interaction may always be preferable, but it’s not always possible. So go for the next best thing: an AI-chatbot. We’re living in the age of the machines – which means these bots are fully capable of analysing data, speaking to customers, and solving problems in real time.
It can be incredibly detrimental to customer engagement levels if a problem arises out of hours and there’s no one around to help, so allowing a 24/7 chatbot to pick up the slack can go a long way.
10. Seek customer feedback – and act on it
If you’re going to the trouble of creating a customer engagement strategy, you want to know that it’s working. Collecting feedback through customer surveys, online reviews, your CRM system, and your customer service team itself will help you to gauge what’s landing with your customers, and what’s missing the mark. But it’s crucial that once you’ve gathered that feedback, you act on your findings. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Listening to customer feedback – even negative complaints – can help to deepen customer engagement levels, as people will feel that their contribution has been valued.
11. Turn interactions into conversations
Your customer service process needs to be on the money if you really want to engage your customers to the max. Because people often have so many different interactions (they might tweet you about a problem, fill out an online complaint form, and use live chat), it pays to be able to bring all those interactions together and turn them into a conversation. For example: “I can see from your chat history that there’s a problem with your product. I’ll look at that for you now.”
Creating a customer-centric approach will make people feel like your company is there to help them, rather than get rid of them.
12. Give your teams the support they need
While we’re on the subject of creating an impressive customer service experience, this is a timely reminder that you need to invest in your customer service team. By taking care of your team with training, incentives, acknowledgements, and rewards, you’re helping them to deliver the best customer experience possible.
When your customer service team is happy, your customers will naturally feel this, and customer engagement levels will soar.
Implementing a customer engagement strategy
We know that’s a lot to process, but every approach we’ve talked through above feeds into one big, overarching, super-well-performing customer engagement strategy.
Every company will take a slightly different approach to rolling out a customer engagement strategy based on their own unique needs (wouldn’t life be boring if we were all the same?), but you might find the template below useful for making a healthy start.
Step one: Prepare
- Assess where you’re at right now
- Define your own engagement goals
- Map out the customer journey, from beginning to end
- Work on your customer personas
- Create a business case for next steps
Step two: Plan
- Carry out some competitor analysis
- Decide on which strategies you’ll adopt
- Get to work on a rollout plan
- Agree the budget
- Communicate plans to the wider organisation
Step three: Implement
- Assess whether you need to invest in new tech
- Choose your providers
- Send your plans out into the world
- Carry out testing
- Iterate where necessary
Step four: Track
- Gather feedback from your customers
- Gather and report on key metrics and KPIs
- Make any alternations your data calls for
How can Forsta help?
Right then, let’s get down to it.
Customer engagement strategies are a serious business, and every brand could benefit from a bit of help. With Forsta’s Customer Experience Strategy Software, we’ve got the tools to put the customer experience at the very heart of your culture.
When it comes to improving the customer experience, you need to know what you’re working with – because any decisions you make are only as good as the knowledge they’re based on. That’s why our customer experience (CX) software will help you to fully understand the people you’re trying to please (and give you the tools to make that understanding count). You’ll see the humans behind the data, easily.
We think you should see what your customer sees, which is why our interactive dashboards give you a customer’s eye view of every interaction.
Ready to make the changes your customers care about? Book your free demo to find out more.
55% of consumers would pay more for a better customer experience
The facts speak for themselves, right? Engaged customers are the absolute pinnacle for any brand, so if you’re dead set on growing market share, increasing brand loyalty, and taking your products or services to the next level, it’s time to get serious about customer engagement.
And don’t forget to give us a shout if you need a helping hand. We really do know what we’re talking about.
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