10 Customer Engagement Strategies for Your Business
In his book, Predictable Revenue, Aaron Ross defines under-investing in customer success as an organization’s fatal mistake.
CEOs and executives, mainly in the early years of a company, are too focused on getting new customers and frequently ignore current and past ones.
No organization can afford to ignore account management and ongoing customer support.
Bad and good customer experiences get around instantly rather than taking a lifetime. Aaron calls this frictionless karma. One bad apple can spoil a bunch faster than ever.
He gives the example of a customer pitching to a bank. I have written this in the first person for better understanding.
In 2008, I had a client who were in their second pitch meeting with a bank for a potentially enormous deal. They had a coach on the inside, and felt the meeting went great!
A few days after this meeting, their coach contacted them and said, “As a friend, I wanted to let you know that we emailed a bunch of companies we know who use applications such as yours. You are my own personal favorite company, but all the responses we received from your clients said your service is terrible. It’s put you behind the 8-ball in this deal.”
This is not a pleasant message for a VP of Sales to receive.
Hold the hands of your customers; give them lots of love.
There is no magic pill to this – call them, visit them, and talk to them. Ask them what they need, if they need any improvements, and ask for their advice. And do something about it.
In this article, we’d talk about strategies to engage your customers proactively.
1. Proactively Talk to Your Customers
I worked for an organization with customers mainly in the North American and UK market. The company’s CEO travels to these markets every alternate quarter.
For instance, he will travel to North America in the first quarter. He will set up meetings with 20 top customers of ours and do a business review meeting with their management. In the second quarter, he would visit the UK likewise and meet with 20 top customers of ours.
Invariably, this strengthened the relationship with these customers, and all the accounts always grew.
Likewise, the account and delivery managers visit their customers for one-on-one meetings regularly.
Nothing beats meeting your customers personally and listening to them.
2. Listen to Customer Feedback Actively
Most people hate it when they are not listened to. Don’t pretend to listen. Instead, spend time actively listening.
Once you have listened, clarify whether you have understood what your customers are saying. It could be a new need, service, or support issue.
Once you have listened and agreed with what your customer is saying, it allows you to provide them the reassurance they need.
Active listening allows your customers to think highly of you and your organization, enabling you to build customer rapport and lifelong relationships.
Is there any better feeling than being cared for?
3. Omnichannel Communication
You can reach us 24×7 on call, email, chat, and social.
Wouldn’t your customers love this?
However, this may not always be possible, but you can choose the appropriate channels your customer personas would want to reach you. Be available on them, and ensure that all those channels are integrated. Your customers will not have to repeat themselves to multiple people in your customer experience function.
Look at this message as an example.
“Thank you for writing to us. You can expect a response from us within 2 hours for any query you raise. In your case, since this is outside of our office hours, please allow us 4 hours to respond to you.
Be rest assured that our experience engineers will be on it as soon as they clock in and ensure your needs are addressed immediately.
In the meanwhile, you may look at our FAQS on this link. Most likely, the issue that you are facing is addressed there.
Every customer would understand the situation here, and it helps you engage with your customers.
4. Be Truthful
In your zest to please your customers, don’t overpromise. When you overpromise and don’t deliver, it definitely disappoints your customers.
Let us assume your customer is asking for something you cannot deliver.
What do you do?
You ask them to wait, and you can evaluate alternate solutions. Alternatively, you can see if including what they need in your product roadmap makes sense and let your customers know the timelines.
There is no better way to engage your customers than being truthful.
5. Community Building
We have built a community of customer experience professionals and added our customers to this community.
The purpose of this community is to share good practices among customer experience professionals. The idea is to engage and encourage the community to share techniques that would make everyone’s job easier.
We regularly conduct panel discussions on the latest topics on customer experience.
Our customers absolutely love being a part of the community
Let me give you two scenarios here.
As a contact center agent, you get a call from a customer. With his number, you pull up all the information and say thus, “Hello, Mr. X. I see you have recently subscribed to our support service for your air conditioner. Thank you so much for that, and is this call related to that? I would be happy to assist you with anything.”
The customer would really love you for this. Most likely, they are calling to report an issue with their air conditioner, and you already have all the relevant details of the customer.
At the end of the call, the agent says, “I also see that you have looked up our vacuum cleaner but did not go ahead with the purchase. There is a 20% offer on the specific model that you looked up. Would you be interested?”
How do you think the conversation ended? Most likely, on a positive note.
You need to have a single view of your customers to offer this kind of personalization, for which you should opt for an omnichannel platform.
Let us assume that you don’t have personal data about your customers. How do you personalize with relevance?
Take the case of an online shopping site. When visitors see the option between Men’s and Women’s fashion, they choose one.
Assume they choose Men’s fashion, then you show them the sub-categories and price points. Based on the filters, you know what they are looking for, and your recommendation engine can throw suggestions around those filters besides looking at what people with similar interests bought.
Do you know that Amazon’s product recommendation engine contributes over 30% of the e-commerce giant’s revenue?
This would throw up a ton of choices for customers about whom you don’t have personal data. After their visit, your cookies pick up their preference, and you can start providing them with better suggestions in subsequent visits.
How often have you worked with your customers in co-creating?
Often, you would identify a market gap and develop a product. Before you roll out your product, you tend to offer it to beta customers, seek feedback, and incorporate those changes before your big rollout.
This step is very close to your beta customers. However, you would collaboratively define problems, devise solutions, and design here.
This would allow you to get closer to your customers. Eventually, these customers would become your advocates or evangelists.
8. Customer Success Stories
How often have you shared your customer success stories with other customers of yours?
Try sharing them, and most of your customers will come back and say:
That’s something we would like to try as well. Can you help us with it?
We haven’t considered the use case you wrote in your success story for our business. Now reading it, we feel that it might work for us.
Wouldn’t they love you for this tip?
9. Loyalty Programs and Free Trials
Reward loyal customers with discounts, exclusive offers, and freebies to keep them coming back.
How often have you gone back to a brand because of the offers you receive?
I have gotten credit cards mainly to have lounge access at the airports. Any such offers, I don’t pass them up quickly.
Offer free trials of new products and features to your existing customers. The upside is you already know about their business, and you’d know the likely use cases where your new product or a feature would fit in. With free offers, they can try before committing to buy.
10. Send Them a Newsletter
How many of your customers know your full capabilities?
Very few, I’d say.
It would not be possible for you to pitch your existing customers about your offerings easily.
The easiest way is to include your customer emails on your newsletter mailing list.
Very likely, you’d write about all of your offerings in your monthly newsletter, and the chances of your customers missing it is very low.
Engaged customers are happy customers. They tend to be stickier, and their lifetime value consistently increases.
It helps you improve customer loyalty, increase sales, and gain valuable feedback and insights to help improve your products and services.