“Offered by company, chosen by customer. That’s incredible customer engagement.” – Paul Greenberg
Building robust customer engagement is vital to the success of any business, and is quintessential for retaining customers long-term. We know that customers begin to add profitability to a company only after some time of being associated with a company, and hence the longer they stay, the more profitable they become. However, with so many options retaining customers is becoming an increasingly harder challenge for companies, which is why having a durable and robust customer engagement strategy is critical.
Several companies still however, find it extremely tough to plan, execute, and monitor the strategy around customer engagement. The reason is probably because every customer is different – their rationale for buying, their emotional needs, their preferences are all very unique, and unless a company can truly understand what makes customers tick, it would not succeed at engaging them. In many ways, putting together a robust customer engagement strategy becomes impossible given these variances, and manifold criterion. Customers expect and demand personalization and customization, which means that they want companies to understand them and work towards building an emotional and personal bond with them. The catch is that customers want to keep control and power with them – hence the personal connections they demand must be created in a manner and pace, which customers deem appropriate.
In order to create and build a robust customer engagement strategy it is vital that a company and its representatives focus on providing top class experiences and service to all its customers. The better customers feel while interacting with a company, the more likely they are to become engaged and loyal. The fact is that building a positive and happy association with customers, does not just happen – rather, it is an on-going and purposefully carried out activity that everyone in the company is aware of and works towards. By deliberately creating a culture, a company would be able to forge robust customer engagement, something that would prove highly beneficial in the short, and long-terms. It is not that hard to engage customers – treating them with courtesy and respect is the top ‘commandment’. In addition, a company must come across as professional and competent, prepared to work around the timelines and requirements of the customers. It also helps to keep customers informed, and building personal connections with them. It would make sense also, to understand customers so well that the company is able to predict future behaviour, needs, and expectations.
Building a robust customer engagement strategy is about ensuring that a company goes beyond seeing customers as transactions. Focus solely on transactions does not encourage companies to turn them into continuing relationships – and customers soon begin to search for ‘better’ companies. This does not mean a company with better products – rather the ‘better’ company would be one that would keep customers as the focus, and make every effort to build emotional connections with them, and keep them for the longest time. Building engagement is about providing consistent value – beyond what any other company can, and this goes beyond product quality and pricing. It is about knowing the customers – their personalities, likes, dislikes, their pain areas, and putting together strategies to consistently give them as much benefit as possible. When a company does all this, it would end up making customers feel valued and important – the topmost reasons that customers stay with a company.
With time, the feelings of importance become feelings of trust and dependability. Customers love working with companies they can depend on – not just for the business relationship, but also, beyond. This over time creates a special emotional bond that transcends any kind of rationale or explanation. Customers become more forgiving, less price sensitive, and would much rather buy the products from the company even if there were several other options in the market. With time, customers become loyal, and begin to advocate the brand and company, ensuring that more customers experience what they have, translating to success for a company. Emotionally engaged customers are the best kind of customers, and a company must strive to make all customers ‘emotional’ about its products and service. Such a company becomes the ‘go to’ company, with customers approaching it for solutions that go beyond the immediate business requirements, and help to alleviate their problems. Companies, which become ‘popular’ as solution providers and those that add value, are more likely to build more robust customer engagement – enhancing throughout the ‘life’ of the customer with the company.
Another great way to build robust customer engagement is through the leadership of the company. They must display personal commitment towards the fulfilment of the company’s, and customer’s goals and objectives. Leading by example, they would be able to ensure that everyone in the company understood their responsibility towards serving customers well, and ensuring they feel engaged with the company. People within the organization – must be treated with respect, given enough recognition and rewards, and made part of the decisions taken for customers and the company, in order for them to pass on positive feelings to their customers. Customer engagement must be made a goal and woven into the framework of a company, in order for it to become a reality. When focus on the customer is to become a culture, employees should be empowered to make decisions to resolve customer problems, without the delays of ‘red tape’. Each person must understand their responsibilities and have enough leeway to innovate and come out with the best solutions for customers. This not only saves time and money for the company, it also cuts down on wait times and effort for customers, and adds to their satisfaction levels. Receiving such service and attention consistently, encourages customers to stay with a company, and over time forge deep personal connections with it.
Just as customer service cannot be the responsibility of a single department, building robust customer engagement too cannot happen without the involvement of each person in the company. It is about surprising and pleasing customers in every interaction, and through each touch-point in the company, such that they spend more time and resources on the company, which in turn would lead to feeling connected and engaged with the company. Customer engagement must be an objective at every stage – while sending out communiqués to attract customers, during the initial stages of their interaction post becoming customers, during their entire ‘life’ with the company, and if possible even after they may leave the company. Customers that leave a company for reasons other than poor customer service, are more likely to return as customers, if a company treats them right.
Happy customers are willing to impart feedback, provide insights, and even help a company to develop and launch new offerings. They become part of the company, and do everything they can to make a company successful. Such is the power of robust customer engagement! Ultimately, it does not matter what engagement strategies a company employs. What makes the difference is consistently good service, and a focus on benefiting and making the lives of customers easier. Customers reciprocate – they reward a company through more business, trust, loyalty, and brand advocacy. A company that has customer engagement insures its success for a very long time.