Smarter Marketing Blog

Why Authentic Customer Engagement is the Only Way

customer-engagement-silhouettes

I was standing in a local shop queue recently to pay for my ‘takeout’ lunch. It was during lunchtime so it was busy. The server at the till did not appear to be in a good mood as he kept shouting, ‘who’s next?” at the queue. Fair enough you might say – he was trying to move the queue.

No, when I arrived at the till I was greeted with a sigh. I, the customer appeared to be an inconvenience for him. Obviously, I had no idea why he was in a foul mood but surely he’s being paid to smile? Walking back to my office, I wondered whether this guy’s customer engagement was a reflection of the shop owner’s attitude to customers.

Where am I going with this? Well, when I returned to the office, I began wondering how important good customer engagement is to a business. Also, in this day and age of ‘content shock’ whether our communication really engaged with customers in an authentic way?

Satisfied employees make for excellent engagement with customers.

It is an age-old truism that employees are not motivated by salaries / wages alone. If they have purpose, a chance to learn new skills and/or some element of flexibility in how they operate, they will be motivated in general but more so on good customer service delivery.

The challenge for the business owner is to make customer service delivery a purpose for all employees – not just the front-line people. If employees are encouraged to view improved customer service delivery as a new skill they should take training etc. on board more willingly. Also, allowing employees to say ‘yes’ and feel a sense of autonomy in doing so will reinforce the business owners commitment to ‘putting the customer first’.

So here’s my tuppence worth – if your employees aren’t pleasant when communicating with customers and are rude or unhelpful, it doesn’t matter what formal strategy you have in place – customers will switch loyalties

In the rush to obtain leads / sales are we losing focus on what good engagement is or looks like? Content marketing is one route that a lot of businesses now undertake with a view to better engagement with customers.

Can content marketing can drive customer engagement?

Let’s look at some ways that content marketing can work for a business.

  • It can position the business as a thought leader by the sharing of relevant information for free.
  • It can encourage a customer to engage your business by them spending more time on your website.
  • By providing the customer with content that helps their business will help make them feel more appreciative / closer to you.
  • It can provide solutions for customers in advance of them contacting you – which can actually save you money / time on incoming phone calls as well as informing them of your offerings before talking.

Using content marketing for engagement works best when all the tools, channels, and platforms used, form part of an over-arching story. That story must be unique and authentic and it must be told in a high-quality manner.

Customer engagement strategies for businesses.

We are all aware that people’s attention span is reducing. (although it could be argued that this is not a bad thing). The second business fact that we are constantly reminded of is that a growing percentage of a business’s site traffic arrives via mobile devices. As a result, the challenge is to keep customer engagement real while retaining a business focus.

One of the ways of starting this process is to view social media as a tool rather than just an engagement platform. As a tool it can be used to share information, talk to industry influencers, identify questions and for listening to customer feedback. Free trials are another way of building relationships through social media.

Needless to say, a business owner must nurture all customers but one essential piece of information that is a must-know is who their ‘top’ customers are. By knowing this, businesses can provide a more personal touch for them.

Ashish Kalra mentioned in this post that 68% of customers will leave your business if they don’t believe that you care about them. Surely, it is a no brainer to care for your top customers by delivering real value.

Another strategy for good customer engagement is to create customised content for them. If you know what their requirements are then you can be part of the solution. Taking this one step further would be to develop a conference for customers, influencers, and prospects with a particular theme. What better way to provide value and to engage with top customers over a few hours in a mutually suitable environment.

When customers become emotionally charged, through education / helping them grow – they engage more with the provider of that education. Content is definitely the platform but the type of content appreciated is changing.

There is a lot of similar content out there and it seems that only content which is different, authentic and relevant is cutting through the noise. That differentiation, more and more, appears to involve interactive content. Examples would be polls, galleries, quizzes, tests, calculators, contests and automated audit tools.

Interactive content is a great way to engage a user up front and usually provides real time value. So, what are some ways of improving your customer engagement activity?

Tips for improving your customer engagement activity.interactive content

Make the customer happy.

– listen to them and then talk

– make sure they benefit every time they engage with you

– respect their age, culture, language or background

If the engagement is online – offer a takeaway before they leave

– a pop-up thank you message

– a free download / cheat-sheet

– a link to further relevant information

Surprise them whenever you can

– use personalised emails or create customised webinars

– offer a free consultation (for a limited period)

– share industry information that they might not be aware exists

Be social with them

– choose a social media platform that suits you & them

– say thank you when others have shared your business content

– share your customer’s posts online

– implement a Q & A session on your social networks

Deal with negative feedback

– Never avoid responding and do so ASAP

– If you can, check out the profile of the annoyed person online

– Listen carefully and don’t rush to defend – start with an apology

Always be conscious of your brand reputation

– Don’t always be selling – help people when you can

– Set up online alerts to monitor perceptions (if any)

– Be a storyteller with the customer as the hero

Join online and offline groups relevant to your industry

– join an online group on social media

– join a local association that includes your customer demographics

– create your own group or community

Conclusion

No matter how you look at it – good people engagement is the key to potential conversion of them into customers. No matter what your pricing policy is or how brilliant your offers are – your efforts will be wasted if the customer’s experience isn’t human, pleasant and authentic.

What I hope you got from this post is that customer engagement is not a destination but a journey. Just because you will never get 100% customer satisfaction doesn’t mean that owners and employees shouldn’t strive for it.

“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.

 Would you like us to notify you, by email, when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers. Jim – O’C&K

 

 

 

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