Customer Engagement is vital to success

“The single most important thing to remember about any enterprise is that there are no results inside its walls. The result of a business is a satisfied customer.” – Peter Drucker

The spectrum of Customer engagement has changed significantly. It is no longer a one time or one-off ‘event’ but is now an ongoing and consistent interaction. Companies that want to hold customers attention now must be willing to actively listen, acquire new skills, new technology and be there for the customers. Customer engagement is about how much and how often the customer is willingly spending time and resources on a company, for mutual benefit. The higher the engagement levels, the easier it is to retain such customers. Engaged customers become loyal and profitable customers. Loyalty alone, as we have seen in a previous exposition, does not necessarily mean profitable. To keep customers profitable requires hard work and an undeviating adherence to increasing customer satisfaction and providing memorable experiences.

Customer engagement then, is probably easier to manage, influence and even measure. It is more closely connected with a company’s bottom-line profits and ROI. The effort and activities a company undertakes to build a rapport and cordial relations with customers, results in they being more willingly and actively involved in the relationship which in turn has a positive and significant impact on the company’s profits. Companies that involve their customers in most of their activities are more likely to succeed in their efforts to grow and be successful. Involving some longstanding and trusted customers for example before launching a new product or an innovation, gets customers more interested and involved. They see their role as being pivotal in the success of the launch and provide their complete support. Such customers have a higher engagement level that fits well with any companies overall business strategy.

Effective customer engagement is when the company can create an emotional connect to their brand and the offerings. Customers feel more ‘at home’ and are more willing to stay away from the company’s competitors and also have decreased price sensitivity. Over time such customers become brand evangelists and the company’s efforts at customer engagement become more tightly connected with revenue, profits and sustainable growth. Customer engagement therefore is a key measure of how the business is performing and will perform in the future. An understanding of certain features of customer engagement would explain lucidly why companies must aim at engaging customers.

– Customer Engagement is a more robust and unambiguous method to measure the customer’s perception and indicates more accurately the likelihood of a customer being profitable and loyal. Loyalty is hard to measure and companies use surveys to understand the customer’s stand. The customer’s frame of mind, condition of business and other factors could influence the entries on the survey and the company could possibly have no bearing on these factors. Also given the fast paced environment customers may not even respond providing a skewed proportion and information. Customer engagement is now – real time. It is typically depicted by how the customer is behaving and interacting with the company, for example, in participating in some promotional activities leading to instant purchases, signing of contracts or even renewals of these. Dipping customer engagement are instantly perceivable when customers stop interacting or participating in activities with the company. A company can take the necessary remedial measures since long term revenue would be at stake.

– Engaged customers show it – they talk about your company and its offerings, post comments on social media sites, provide excellent referrals and keep up their buying momentum. They would also bring more business through friends and associates, who would already be partly ‘sold’ on the idea that doing business with your company is wise and profitable. Engaged customers and their partly engaged friends would not even mind paying a trifle higher price. Engaged customers are extremely effective brand advocates and even a single positive comment via social media is likely to put the positive spotlight on your company.

– Engaged customers are happy customers. They are people who trust your company and will buy from you simply because their ideologies and strategies are matched by your company’s strategies. They see your company as an ally, a friend and see their success in conjunction with the success of your company. Engaged customers are more likely to be loyal, good and profitable. They will buy and are not with your company for freebies or discounts. Customer engagement therefore is directly connected with higher revenue and increased profits that will grow steadily.

As the market becomes more volatile and digitized, customer demands are increasing. As part of customer service they are not just expecting but ‘demanding’ that their voice is heard and they are kept constantly involved. They demand that their feedback and opinions are taken in to consideration. They are not reluctant to show their displeasure and will leave your company for another if they see your company flinch on any of these factors. When companies are able to provide memorable experiences, meaningful connections and give their customers what they want and when they want, the company will have engaged customers who will reward them with loyalty and long term sustainable profits. It will be easier for companies and their representatives to connect with customers on any emotional level too, making the relationship personalized and friendly.

As with all customer service activities, customer engagement too is an ongoing process, more so because it is aimed at being beneficial and fruitful for the company’s business too. Customer focused business strategies with procedures and processes that conjoin both employee and customer friendly endeavors will lead to maximized gains through higher levels of customer engagement. Empowering and motivating employees, leads to engaged employees who in turn prove to be a major means of achieving customer engagement. Continuous monitoring is also required to track customer engagement levels. Current situations combined with customer data and history will help companies to develop and improve strategies that with ensure maximized gain through customer relationships both for themselves and the customer.

Interactions with customers must be honest, transparent and continuous. Empathy towards customer combined with speedy and knowledgeable solutions, taking feedback, supporting them outside of the realm of the products or services, publicly acknowledging their achievements, thanking them profusely for support and praise – all form the vital ingredients for the dish of success.
Companies must also remember that customers talk to each other. They take more feedback from each other than with the company regarding the company’s offerings. It would be wise to engage your customers and their associates via social media as well by providing opportunities like open forums, a discussion site over your social media page – to ensure that your company is occupying the mind of your customer and that of their social circle. If you have done a great job, the benefits of these open forums can be huge and unprecedented. Providing these opportunities will let your customer see you not just as a ‘seller’ but also a facilitator interest in open discussions. The information gathered from such ‘conversations’ is not only vital for your company, it is also important for your customers. They are gathering information that they can pass on to you helping you to better your service and offerings. It is a winning situation for all involved. Customers get what they want and you get customers who are happy, engaged and profitable.

For these reasons then, customer engagement becomes a two-way street – when they feel important and in the driver’s seat, they are more likely to contribute more and remain interested. Your company benefits from their feedback and implementing the suggestions leads to offerings that delight the customers. You won’t need to bother with attracting more customers – they are already in waiting!

When companies put the control in the hands of the customers, it will be easier to meet their needs, win their trust, gain their loyalty and remain as the front-runner in their minds.

“Cut through the noise by engaging individuals in a dialogue that connects them emotionally with your brand.” – Marketo

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