“We want to know what consumers are looking for, what their values are, and how can we meet their needs. It’s not just about Big Data; it’s about translating that into the truth.” – Gayle Fuguitt
The ‘face of customers’ has changed and the customers now expect personalized service and customer experiences when interfacing with the company they are doing business with. They now demand and expect compliance with how and when they receive service and the quality of the offerings. Customer engagement happens when companies comply. However, simply providing service through multiple channels no longer suffices and in order to attain and retain their leadership, it is important that companies use data. It is crucial for companies to listen to what customers have to say and use their understanding to deliver customized options. Customer engagement through data means that collecting and collating data is not enough – companies must analyse the data in order to gain a thorough understanding of what the customers are saying. The messages a company sends out through the multi channels, would then be consistent, timely, useful and relevant for the customers. This translates to data optimisation, which in turn allows customers to believe that the company’s focus is their needs and in understanding their expectations.
Customer data is available from a plethora of sources – social media pages, websites, app usage, email messages, sharing and commenting history and such other sources. Customer engagement through data happens when companies consistently leverage this data and transform it to action. The action here means improving strategies and decisions that will positively influence their customers, enhance the levels of customer service and ensure customer experiences that no other market player is providing. Customer data is an unparalleled source of information for any business since the reason companies exist is because of customers and can serve them only when there is complete understanding of them. Customer engagement is not the only advantage of collecting and analysing data – companies also gain invaluable insights about the industry, competitors and even how and where to source the best talent.
Companies, despite the importance of customer engagement through data, fail to make the best use of this large body of information. It is pointless to continue gathering data without analysing and using what is already available. Without putting their information ‘under the scanner’, it would be impossible for companies to make any sense of further data, which in turn would not allow them to understand their customers or their target audience. The fact is, companies no longer have an excuse for not making good the information they have. The sources of customer data now are many and it is the onus of companies to integrate all these channels. Customer engagement through data would mean being able to put together solutions and offerings, based on the data, that will enable them to serve customers better. Engaged customers translates to business, repeat business, referrals and ultimately customer loyalty and profitability – the ultimate customer service goal.
Companies that are able to garner customer engagement through data will be able to provide customers with consistently high quality service, offerings and memorable customer experiences. In addition, they would also learn what more they can do in terms of improving the content on their websites and social media sites, the training and coaching they should provide their employees and how they can trounce their competitors. Thoroughly analysing the customer data would give them invaluable insights into what works for their customers and what they hate, allowing them to tweak their strategies and service to suit the patrons.
So how exactly can companies drive customer engagement through data? Analysis of data allows companies to convey to customers that they have been paying attention. Based on the customer’s history of buying, companies are better positioned to recommend the most appropriate products and services. Customers find this attention incredibly valuable and prospective customers would be attracted to the company and the existing ones, would be further engaged. Customer engagement through data becomes possible also because companies are able to provide their regular customers with incentives and offers that would be customized based on their preferences. Such personalized offerings find immediate favour with consumers, who would then tend to stick with the company and would be happy to recommend it to their friends and associates and possibly write about the company on their personal social networking sites.
To enhance customer engagement through data, companies also use the information collected to ascertain the location of the customers. This means that they could help customers with location specific stores and other details that would help them choose better. This further strengthens the quality of the customer profiles that a company has in their database. Through the data, companies can also identify their most ‘loyal and regular’ customers. This in turn allows them to put together loyalty programs to encourage and engage these customers and entice prospective ones. ‘Get on our loyalty program before xyz and receive attractive offers and benefits’ is the kind of enticements that companies are able to offer in a bid to attract more customers and retain their existing and most profitable ones.
Customer engagement through data does not only help to retain and attract existing and new customers. It is also possible for a company to re-establish connections with customers who may have left. Through a detailed analysis of the customer data, companies can ascertain as to why the customer left, what their current ‘buying’ status is and what kind of offers and communication they should put together to entice them once again. Such ‘effort’ many times yield positive results, either by way of customers returning or passing on the information to those they know could make use of it. In both cases, a company benefits and is able to please and engage its customers.
The data that companies gather about customers allows them to respond more swiftly and diligently to customer needs and likes. Being able to send out communication and offers that are most pertinent to the customer and at the most opportune time, allows a company to build customer engagement and loyalty. Consistently paying attention to the needs of the customers sets a company apart and further ahead of its competitors. Customers of today are always rushed and expect immediate responses and service and those companies that can respond in accordance with these ‘rushed wishes’ will garner more respect and business.
Customer engagement through data and other means is an on-going process and requires a steady customer focus and commitment to service. Engaged customers would consistently interact and respond to company communiqués and over time become profitable business partners, who are happy to let others know of the benefits and experiences they receive. Realistically speaking, every interaction they have with an existing or prospective customer must be treated as an opportunity for a long-term association and those companies that manage this, become big and successful on a sustainable basis.
Customer engagement through data cannot be overstated or underestimated. Engaged customers buy more, repeat their business and remain with a company for a long time. Harnessing the power of customer data and then using it to drive your company’s strategy and is the best way to keep your company way ahead of competition and consistently sustain this lead.