What Is Customer Engagement?
Customer service is not customer engagement. Customer service is reactive communication with the customer when they reach out with a question or issue. Customer engagement is proactive anticipation and fulfilment of customer needs before they even think to ask. A good customer engagement strategy will allow you to proactively reach out to customers and create a symbiotic relationship between them and the business or product while heading off any bad customer experience. A great customer experience will result in increased brand recognition and the trust of customers with increasingly high expectations of the businesses they patronize.
Does My Small Business Need a Customer Engagement Strategy?
Customers know small businesses operate with smaller teams, and expect a more personal touch than they can get with big marketplaces like Amazon. Many customers will choose to work with a local or smaller company over a larger one for the customer service alone! Consequently, small businesses suffer more from a single negative customer review than huge corporations, making satisfaction a more pressing issue.
Building a Solid Customer Engagement Strategy
There are many elements that must be considered when building a customer engagement strategy, all of which are geared toward the happiness and satisfaction of the customer through positive interactions. Let’s explore a few of the most popular customer engagement strategy elements.
Make the customer happy!
Giving customers rewards and incentives is a great sales and marketing tool, but customer engagement takes it a step beyond, by offering real-time benefits and rewards. A last minute discount or offer will increase dwell time on your site and reduce shopping cart abandonment, both critical issues for small businesses. One thing customers love is fast and free shipping, encouraging many businesses to use and advertise recognizable services like USPS Priority Mail – using a reliable and recognizable brand name is a great way to engage customers.
Connect Via Mobile Apps
Users spend 88% of their screen time on mobile applications, making it a hot-spot for customer engagement. Assuming you have an application already, or are planning to deploy one, in addition to offering all the basic features (payment, browsing, customer service), consider using your application like a loyalty card or to accrue points based on purchases. Push notifications, if done correctly, will inform potential customers when you have a sale, a new blog post, or a service they might want to check out – or let them know they have a few items in their shopping cart that they might like to pull the trigger on.
Dropping options or offers to encourage consumers to use your product or service more often will keep you in the front of their mind. Many businesses are using in-product messaging to alert customers to overdue invoices, offer premium services over free trials, and send personalized discounts or offers. Aren’t sure if this will help build brand awareness or customer engagement? Just look at the Duolingo language learning app, with 500 million registered users and 42 million active on the application monthly. Duolingo is famous in meme form for their constant reminders to open the app and practice your chosen language! Duolingo morphed their customer engagement strategy into a meme-worthy joke, known the world over.
Customers are far more willing to share personal information in exchange for an offer or deal – but personalized offers are where the real money is! By offering elements like birthday discounts, points for purchases or free products, or interest-related offers and messages, many businesses are encouraging brand loyalty from customers who are feeling adrift in a vast e-commerce ocean.
Generate Interactive Content
What’s more fun than great interactive content? The pandemic drove a massive growth of the already oversaturated gaming industry. Consider incorporating this trend into your customer engagement strategy by “gamifying” your application or website, to access your piece of the $77.2 billion dollar gaming industry. If gaming doesn’t interest your customer base, customers love augmented reality (AR) for an immersive example of how to use your product. Or consider producing a video with internal purchasing options or QR code links to your product. Customers love when brands step outside the box to reach them on their own level.
Customer engagement has no hard and fast rules. It’s in your best interest to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. You could be the subject of the next “tell-all” article on your successful customer engagement strategy. Try new things. Personalize everything, and make your product and e-commerce channels meet your customer where they live, instead of where they visit.