It is All about Customer Engagement

“The more you engage with customers the clearer things become and the easier it is to determine what you should be doing.” – John Russell

If you have been in business and support customers, you would probably say that you know all about customer engagement – and you could be right. However, given that customers are evolving and their expectations have changed dramatically, what you would know about customer engagement from the past is possibly obsolete now. While the basic premise of this important aspect of customer support may be the same – that is encouraging customers to connect emotionally, share their best experiences, and build positivity around your business and brand. Every company must have a robust strategy to promote engagement from customers, which would foster feelings of loyalty and brand advocacy among them. Businesses that have understood the importance of keeping customers engaged would stay focused on creating value for them, rather than aiming solely for their own gain.

Does your company understand all there is to know about customer engagement? The answer lies in evaluating whether your customer believe that they are getting real value, their experiences with your company are exceptional through all channels and touch-points, they receive valuable and value-added information and content from your company, and that they believe your company is not always out to make a sale. What are some of the reasons that have exaggerated the importance of customer engagement? The fact is that with so many options, customers now have a low attention span and memory, and are easily side-tracked by all the noise in the market. They also, now have access to tons of information to help them decide for or against a company / brand. Multi-channels, especially social media has made it extremely simple for them to see what existing customers and users say about a company / brand, and an increasing number of prospective customers make their decisions based on these comments / reviews. The key aspect all about customer engagement is that it is not a one-off exercise but happens through top class interactions, repeatedly.

To understand the reasons that could lead to customer engagement, a company must first endeavour to understand its customers and target audience. Customers would have some emotional reason owing to which they would buy or not. It is the onus of the company to ‘dig deep’ to ascertain the major pain area / areas of its customers, and then fashion solutions and products to alleviate the ‘pain’. Making a customer’s life easier, addressing their desires, and eliminating the stress of choosing, would over time lead to customer engagement. This is the act of persuasion without seeming pushy or violating the privacy of customers. All a company needs to do is highlight the benefits and features of their business and products – customers are smart enough to pick up on these, and over time come to trust and depend on a company.

As mentioned, as customers become informed and realize the importance of their business for a company, their expectations, and demands increase. Companies that can keep pace with these demands fast and efficiently will be able to retain their customer base, and even add to it. Since customer engagement takes time to achieve, companies unable to match the speed of expectations from customers, will find themselves struggling to survive. Another fact all about customer engagement is that customers are open to suggestions, and are unlikely to switch companies if they receive the kind of service and products they expect. They want to know that they can trust the company, and depend on it for a deep understanding of all their reasons to buy – both rational and emotional. As companies pick on these traits, they would be better equipped to provide customized products and personalized solutions for each of their customer segments. They would be able to communicate the right messages, using the best channel of communication, and in timelines that would suit their customers. When everything would work according to what customers want, could customer engagement be far behind?

While customers might check a company’s website and social media sites for information, they would not decide in favour of a company solely based on these. They turn to other sources of information and feedback to make their decision. These ‘sources’ of information would primarily be existing or former customers, users, and or industry leaders and experts – who may have posted comments or written reviews about their experiences with a company and its offerings. The thing then, all about customer engagement, is that companies understand this massive shift in trust and information gathering mechanisms on the part of customers. For a company to deliver real and long-term value, it would be imperative that it constantly endeavours to provide the best to and serve its existing customers well, which in turn could encourage them to spread positive comments, and encourage others to engage in business with a company. When existing customers are treated with importance, they become engaged, and through their engagement, they allay the preliminary fears and apprehensions that prospective customers may have, thereby getting them on board – partly engaged. There is a lot there is to know about customer engagement!

Another way to encourage and promote customer engagement, is for a company to become known as a market leader, an authority on a wide range of subjects, and offer free expertise through their website and other sites. This ensures that customers learn to depend on the company, rather than seeking other sources to gain information, making the company more valuable to customers – existing and prospective. Every interaction they have with the company must display the company’s ‘intelligence’ and depict it as a subject matter expert.

While a company would have other strategic and crucial aspects of business to care about, it is important to remember customer engagement. To encourage it, a company and its representatives must remain accessible to the customers at whatever time they deem appropriate. Keeping service and information accessible will allow customers to remain at ease in the knowledge that they would get whatever they require from the company, irrespective of the time or medium they choose. A company must constantly reaffirm its commitment to its values by aligning service and its offerings with those values. This in turn would create and build trust in customers – the more transparency and honesty they perceive in the dealings, the easier it would be for a company to gain customer engagement. As online business continues to surge, a very real danger is that service could become rote and robotic, which in turn could frustrate customers. A company must ensure that it maintains personal associations, and always comes across as humane. This human touch features high on the list of customer preferences and reasons to remain with a company, according to research.

There may be a lot more things to know customer engagement, and we are certain that your company would have figured it out. The fact is that engaging customers and keeping them so is now quintessential to the very survival of a company and unless a company is unflinchingly devoted to this cause, it could face some serious problems. Customers invest a lot of time, money, and effort in doing business with a company. They expect to be valued for that and will more than likely to continue providing business if they believe the company would stay focused on overcoming their problems and working towards simplifying their lives.

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