Standing out in today’s crowded marketplace is challenging for any business. New competitors can appear without warning, trying to steal away your customers by promising a cheaper or superior product. Even if you have the most innovative service around, it’s only a matter of time before someone copies it.
To succeed in such a competitive market, businesses have to build strong customer engagement.
This post will help you understand exactly what customer engagement is, why it’s so important for your business, and how you can implement it effectively.
What is customer engagement?
The communication and interactions between a business and its customers, with the objective of creating a positive and long-term relationship between the two.
Our consumer engagement definition involves building a relationship with your customer that goes beyond a purely transactional business. This is achieved by interacting with your customers, listening to what they have to say, and providing an exceptional experience.
When someone shops in-person at a smaller, independent shop, customer engagement will often occur naturally. The owner gets to know the customer, learns about their tastes, and anticipates their needs. While a supermarket might offer cheaper prices or greater convenience, the independent store can offer a far superior experience by engaging with the customer.
For online customer engagement, the challenge is getting to know the people behind the purchases and recreating that same feeling at a far greater scale. Good consumer engagement leaves your customers feeling like they’re more than just another anonymous ID number. Instead, they can (and are encouraged to) have their voices heard.
Why you should care about customer engagement
Although it’s different from customer satisfaction and customer retention, customer engagement is a core component of both. Highly engaged customers are more likely to be happy customers. They’re more likely to stick around, make repeat purchases, and have a higher lifetime value to your business.
By regularly communicating with your customers, you’ll also have the opportunity to learn more about them and their requirements. Sometimes, this will result in a chance to recommend an upgrade or another one of your products. However, customer engagement isn’t a short-term hack to make a quick sale.
Instead, client engagement is a long-term strategy. Not every interaction will result in a sale, but it is an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with them. This might even mean encouraging them not to make a purchase when it wouldn’t be the right fit for them and, instead, pointing them to a better option. When your customers can see you have their best interests at heart, even at the expense of a sale, they’re more likely to trust you when it is the right time to buy.
Offering a high-quality product/service is no longer enough. According to research carried out by Salesforce, a customer’s happiness depends as much on the quality of a company’s engagement as it does on the product or service they’re buying. However, not all businesses seem to have realized this. More than half of customers (54%) think companies need to fundamentally transform how they engage.
Clearly, customers want better customer engagement, making it an ideal opportunity to differentiate your business.
How to increase customer engagement
First of all, you have to make it easy for customers to get in touch in a way that’s convenient for them. That means having multiple communication channels that are readily available, not just a phone number or ‘info@’ hidden away. For example, a click-to-call solution on your website makes it simple for a customer to get in touch and get their questions answered immediately, without having to wait on hold for hours or paying international call rates.
Whichever channel you use, the communication has to be two-way. Even the most nurturing email campaign will have limited results if it comes from a ‘no-reply’ email address. Likewise, it’s great to have a presence on a wide variety of social media platforms but, if you’re not interacting with and responding to people, they’re not going to help increase your customer engagement. To get the results, you have to put some effort in. Talk with your customers, not at them.
Where possible, go beyond multi-channel and embrace an omni-channel approach. This provides continuity for your customers, creating a seamless experience for them however they reach out to you. For example, with SnapCall’s LiveChat integration, your agents can initiate a voice call directly within the chat window, without anyone having to leave the chat or explain the situation to another team all over again. By tracking all the channels you use and unifying your response, you make things easier for the customer, rather than making them repeat themselves or fill in details you should already know.
Bonus: If you’re looking for customer engagement examples, our case study shows how SnapCall helped Valley Driving School provide their prospects with a full omnichannel experience.
Not all the messages you receive will be positive, but make the effort to respond to all customer feedback—good and bad. It might be tempting just to engage with customers that only have nice things to say about you, but don’t ignore the complainers. Hopefully, you can resolve their issues and win yourself another loyal customer. Even if you can’t, other people who see you making that effort will be more likely to trust you
Finally, in all your engagement, strive to personalize your communication. Rather than sending out an email blast that’s the same for everyone of your customers, you can make it unique to each recipient by basing it on your previous engagement. For example, if a customer has just bought a particular item, this could trigger an email showing how to get the most out of the product, or recommending other complementary items they might be interested in.
Alternatively, if you’ve segmented your customer list, you can send messages to just the customers that match your requirements (e.g. emailing your customers relevant to their specific industry).
How to calculate customer engagement
The result of your customer engagement strategies can be tricky to calculate, as it depends on the platforms and channels you’re using. As a result, it can be difficult to point to a single metric that would apply to every business. Instead, you need to consider how you as a company are currently engaging with customers and then how they are responding to that engagement. The first step is to ensure you’re tracking all of your customer interactions, wherever they take place.
If you’re active on social media, look at your dashboard to see how people are responding to your posts? How many people are reaching out to you? If you’re getting lots of shares and comments, it’s a good sign that people are taking the time to engage.
For engagement on your site, tools like Google Analytics or heat mapping software can show you how visitors are engaging with you. Bounce Rate and Time On Page are two key metrics to monitor. Are people just interested in making a purchase and then getting out of there as soon as possible? Or are they exploring your site, getting to know you and your brand? The more engaged a customer is, the longer they’ll stick around. You should also look out for other engagement signals, such as signing up for your email list or registering an account.
When sending an email out to your customers, use your email marketing platform to track metrics such as open rates and click-through rates. However, a positive reply rate is even better for showing whether or not customers want to engage.
Finally, there are other customer engagement indicators you can keep an eye out for. For example, if you’re able to track referrals, you can see how many customers are recommending you to their friends and family. Likewise, a high Net Promoter Score is a good sign that customers have gone beyond a purely transactional basis and are actively engaging with you.
A customer engagement strategy is an essential part of providing an experience that delights customers and inspires loyalty. However, not enough businesses view it as a priority.
By enabling two-way communication with your customers (ideally with an omni-channel approach), making it easy for them to reach out and interact with your business, and sending meaningful and relevant messages, you will see engagement go up and enjoy stronger relationships.
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