Many businesses want to know how to develop a deeper relationship with their customers as this can lead to greater customer understanding and therefore to improved loyalty.
So, what is customer engagement? Customer engagement is quite simply the depth of the relationship a customer has with a brand. It is built through every brand interaction that your customer has with your business – from making a purchase, to reading Facebook posts, or emails, or seeing a review, or having a conversation with a friend about your business.
An engaged customer is one who purchases from you – they pay and frequently; they are advocates of your brand – recommending you to friends and family and share your social media activity; they respond by engaging with your brand through open dialogue – whether online or offline. Value their feedback it is a sign that they feel committed to the brand. And finally, they are loyal, sticking with your brand despite competitor options.
Achieving this level of engagement doesn’t happen overnight. It is an evolving relationship and this starts when the customer has their first ‘moment of truth’. That is when your product lives up to, or exceed, their expectations built up by your marketing. You need to work hard to create engagement and it can start before the purchase is made. Keep communication pro-active – for example for a mail order business, exceed their expectations, keep them informed throughout the order process. Picked, packed, dispatched and delivered. This has the added benefit of reducing complaints, phone calls and emails chasing up for information.
Making engagement one of your marketing objectives in your business strategy will provide focus and measurable outputs. This will lead to improved outcomes.
Ask customers for feedback – their engagement with your brand should continue post-purchase to encourage the relationship and ensure they feel vested in your brand. Not only do you show that you are a brand that cares by asking for feedback, and being able to deal with it; it removes any cognitive dissonance regarding the purchase and can further cement the relationship.
It is the small steps that make a difference. Consider every touch point that a customer has with your brand and how these could be improved to delight, satisfy and engage your target audience.
Customer engagement is something that all your employees need to understand too. Think about a café. The cleanliness of the eating area, toilets and kitchen will all impact on the customer experience. The quality of the food, the service that the customer receives, the presentation of the menu or table literature – even the crockery and cutlery all convey messages about your brand (business) and can impact on a decision of whether to just have coffee or eat; or indeed whether to return and recommend to others.
Your team needs to be able to ask for and deal with feedback. Receiving feedback but being unable to act upon it – with a gift of gratitude or to rectify a negative experience is not going to enhance your customer engagement.
Building customer engagement simply involves treated your customers like you wish to be treated.