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7 Customer Engagement Strategies to try this year

With technology opening newer versions of communication between brands and customers, the expectation to anticipate and meet demands in real time has soared significantly in recent years. This has narrowed down the membrane between customer service and marketing. The customer experience has gone beyond sales to customer engagement.

Customer engagement forms the crux of existence for all brands today. Brands are going all out to encourage customers to interact and share their experiences that are created for them as a business and a brand. When executed well, a strong customer engagement strategy will foster brand growth and loyalty – the ultimate aim for any brand.

Businesses that focus on customer engagement are focused on value creation, not revenue extraction. They give people something meaningful beyond a sales pitch: a brilliant end-to-end customer experience, great content, or interactive, real-time customer support – a connect that stays with them.

Here are seven customer engagement strategies that can build a loyal customer following:

01. Customer Experience Is Priority #1

Ensure that your customer support team, front line business, organizational culture is not only just focused but focused on providing an amazing customer experience. For example, Zappos, the leading online shoe retailer renowned for their customer service, doesn’t enforce call time tracking because they believe their representatives should spend that little extra time with customers rather than be focused on getting through each call. A study by White House Office of Consumer Affairs found that 80% of U.S. consumers would pay more for a product or service to ensure a superior customer experience.

Rethink your business strategy as in how much it is aimed at creating customer satisfaction. Be there when your customers need you, if required streamline the hours. When do your customers need you? What hours do you need to be available to them? Indian food delivery brand, Swiggy has been working it well- they are not only fantastic at providing customer service around the clock but they’re stellar at timely, relevant offers, weekend tips – sweet affair weekend, healthy weekend and engaging you with fun food facts across their Twitter, Facebook and email channels.

02. Humanize your brand

Its highly important to understand that every customer wants to feel that their branding agents understand their needs and that they can relate to your brand. Although it’s easier for B2C products, today even B2B brands are working newer strategies to profess humanization of their brands. Identifying a personality within your organization who is passionate about your brand and a natural communicator and you can grow him/her into a thought leader giving them a voice to humanize your brand and speak to your audience. Create promotional opportunities and initiatives like regular r guest blogging and repurpose these into video content through the right digital channels. There are platforms where your spokesperson can engage in speaker opportunities, publish white papers and eBooks.

03. Get sassy on Social

Social media is the place to be. Influencers are very common on Twitter, and it's a great way to get interest, interaction, and even viral traction for your brand. Mentioning a video campaign that won accolade at the Cannes Lions Festival 2016 made for the Indian Association of Palliative Care by Medulla Communications - This video campaign was an effort to build awareness about palliative (end-of-days) care through digital and social media. People usually do not like talking about the inevitability of death and dying, especially for patients with serious illness. It often happens that their 'last words' are heard by nurses rather than their family members. This emotional video features eight nurses who share the last words of their dying patients in a campaign that leaves a lump in the throat.

04. Drawing the line correctly

But one needs to be cautious with their posts and content since social fails do happen and sometimes if not handled aptly can become nightmares for brands. Mishaps like misjudged jokes to accidentally tweeting a link - all can happen but if cautious can be avoided.

05. Personalize Customer Communications

Here, personalization can be in any form, from the auto-generated happy birthday email to a sophisticated algorithm that recommends products based on browsing history. Amazon and Netflix does this immensely well. Zivame, an online Indian lingerie brand, uses a quiz to personalize recommendations for potential customers. This is a brilliant way to help people find a perfect fit online, and to make what can be stressful - trying to find a flattering bra - that much easier.

06. Create useful content

This was an underused strategy until now, but today with the increasing amount of enquiries that are emanating from customers themselves, using content to educate customers to enhance their experience and increase satisfaction is being widely practiced. According to a Google study, 48% of smart-phone users are more likely to buy from companies whose mobile sites provide instructional video content. Home Depot saw that their customers were going to YouTube to find instructional videos for DIY projects, so they decided to create their own. Their “how to” collection now has over 43 million views.

07. Really listen to what People are telling You

The other side of using social media as a way to differentiate your brand is using it to listen to customer complaints and really respond. Batting out customer issues spontaneously and instantly is a great way to show that your customers matter to you. While it can be hard to hear sometimes but honest negative customer feedback can be one of the most important drivers for a change in an organization.

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, which controls more than 400 companies once said, "To succeed in business you need to be original, but you also need to understand what your customers want." This is a golden statement evergreen in marketing world. Since your brand is what your customers feels about it its essential to be able to engage them entirely through exceptional strategies.