Customer engagement strategies – In our earlier blog, we looked at customer engagement as a concept and discussed its value to the business. As a brief recap, customer engagement is defined as the process of actively building, nurturing and managing customer relationships to maximise value and to grow the business in a sustainable way.
Customer engagement strategies
Remember, customer engagement is about taking your time to build a valuable relationship. That relationship is based on the fundamental concept of reciprocal value – it is not about you simply going after your customers’ cash without a care for their needs! It takes time, effort and thought. And with that in mind, today we turn our attention to the ‘how’, and focus on 7 proven customer engagement strategies that can set you on your way to success.
1. Use social media as a core engagement tool
Move away from the idea that social media is simply a promotional tool or connectivity medium. Think of it as an engagement tool – and take it seriously. When your customers like your Facebook page or Instagram account, follow you on Twitter or join your LinkedIn group, they are showing trust that you can offer them value and help. Customers have needs that you can satisfy, so use social media to connect with your customers, to share valuable content, to find out what their problems are and to provide solutions. Create content that will make your customers think – ‘that is exactly what I was looking for!’
2. Make sure your brand is human
To engage with your brand, your customers need to feel that it is personable. This is easier for B2C brands, but B2B brands can find authentic ways to ‘be more human’. Find your internal brand advocators and natural communicators and make them your thought leaders. Use these individuals to create the brand presence and roll out a planned content strategy, with blogging, videos, speaker opportunities, white papers, webinars and so forth. They will help to evolve the brand’s personality – and put a face to it that your customers will learn to recognise and trust.
3. Personalise your communications
From auto greetings through to product recommendations based on user history, personalisation is key in a digital world, where customers want to feel that their brands really know them. Invest in personalisation strategies and the technologies that will allow you to deliver them. For example, can you quiz your customers in order to personalise their product recommendations? Can you send them information based on their user attributes?
4. Create content that solves problems
More brands are now focusing on content creation that offers meaning and value – enhancing the product or service itself. Instructional product videos are a particularly good idea for this; either explaining how the products work, revealing hidden features, perhaps showing how uses of the product can be extended and sharing stories and tips about how other customers use them successfully in their own lives. B&Q do this very well with their instructional videos and advice.
5. Take a few risks…
Digital communications need to have a little bit of ‘edge’ to stand out in a noisy marketplace, and this links into the humanisation of your brand. Develop a little ‘edge’ and humour in your communications that make your customers smile and encourage them to read more. This can be harder in B2B markets but think about brands that do it extremely well. First Direct is a good example. Their brand is visually simple, but they use warm and personal language with gentle humour – something that big banks have typically struggled with. Move away from corporate monotone and jargon if you want to engage your customers.
6. Handle complaints well
All good relationships have their ups and downs and there will be times when your customers simply aren’t delighted with an element of your service. So own the process. Be personal, be speedy and be thorough and effective in getting to the bottom of the issue and resolving it – with a ready apology. Get this right and your loyal customer will shout about it to their network and praise your brand. Get it wrong and they will also shout to their network for all the wrong reasons! Internal complaints processes often need reworking to become customer facing.
7. Surprise your customers
Great brands surprise their customers in a way that a friend surprises someone special. So send your customers a personalised thank you card, call them and chat in person, send them a free e-book or tip sheet that relates to your product, pop a freebie in the post, send a discount ‘just because’… whatever you do, make it meaningful, of genuine value and something that will delight the customer and encourage them to talk about you to their own network. A small but effective example of this is owned by Morrisons when they deliver online grocery orders to new customers and pop in a free ‘Morrisons delivery man’ gingerbread man. It costs them very little, but the quirk makes customers smile and helps them to feel warm about the brand.
Remember, most brands simply focus on grabbing customers through lead generation and acquisition activities. Focus on the long-term value and benefits of engagement, and you will see that sustainable, high-value growth that sets you apart from the competition.
Ready to move ahead with your customer engagement strategy?
Plan a robust customer engagement strategy that achieves results with our strategy workshop. It uses the Balanced Scorecard methodology and highly experienced facilitators will guide you through the process.