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In an earlier ‘deep dive’ blog series, we analysed the role, strategic process and value of effective employee engagement. Now, we turn our focus to customer engagement as the other side of the coin.

What exactly is customer engagement?

Customer engagement can be defined as the process of actively building, nurturing and managing customer relationships in order to build long-term, sustainable and maximised value. It is all about driving loyalty and growing value throughout the lifetime of that customer.  Taking them on a journey that begins with that initial purchase. It then guides them to the ultimate point of becoming a ‘brand evangelist’ or referrer for your business.

Isn’t customer engagement all about leads?

Not quite – but it is part of an integrated, cyclical business process. Customer engagement is the stage that comes after lead generation and acquisition. With the odd notable exception – for example, if you are engaged in collaboratively building a proof of concept. For the purposes of this discussion, we will focus on the more common sequential process, whereby businesses generate leads. We can then cycle through the sales process to acquire customers and then seek to implement strategies that engage them for long-term profitability.

What is the value in getting it right?

In a nutshell, if you get customer engagement right, you will unlock a powerful and sustainable means of growing your business. The purpose of this business strategy is to hook customers into your brand and nurture them to create loyalty.  You maximise their value to your business over their lifetime. Those efforts to retain your customers will help to guide them through a process that will ultimately see them happy to refer you to their own network and begin to do your marketing for you.

In the context of business priorities, how important is it exactly?

Customer engagement is crucial. Take any sports match and apply the analogy to good business. The first half of the game will be all about getting an early lead and acquiring customers. The second half then becomes about retaining those customers and steadily converting them into loyal buyers who refer your brand to their network over the longer term. Get that right, and you’re winning!

Is it a quick win?

Absolutely not. Even in the rapid age of digital, customer engagement needs to be an expertly-conceived, carefully managed process that is sponsored and prioritised at the senior leadership level. Digital acquisition methods mean that it may begin from the very first moment a customer installs your app, purchases from your e-commerce site or signs up to your service – and from that point a planned sequence of events needs to occur, with regular monitoring of results and adjusting of approaches according to the detailed analytics you produce to guide decision-making. Success will not happen overnight by any means. This business strategy requires a long-term commitment, focus and smart thinking.

What are the keys to success with customer engagement?

We will cover this in-depth in our next blog – but most marketers and business leaders will instinctively realise that success in customer engagement lies heavily on understanding customers. This means being able to access in-depth customer data, to segment it for analysis, interpret it for decision-making and then define a detailed, comprehensive plan of activities that will engage customer groups at each stage of their journey, maximising value and nurturing them towards that ultimate ‘brand evangelist’ stage.

Do all businesses get it right?

In a word, no. Many organisations focus their business strategy heavily on the acquisition stage of the customer lifecycle. They put time, effort and resources into using every channel and technique available in order to secure as many new customers as possible… and then forget to engage and nurture them. As soon as the conversation with your customers stops, your competition will step. They will make enticing offers to lure them away. this will hamper your business growth and ability to enjoy a competitive advantage. Remember too that it is far harder to win back a customer that you have lost than it is to get it right the first time!

Until next time…

In the next blog, we’ll look at the strategies that you can use to begin your customer engagement approach. Until then, please make use of our expert strategy resources