Engaging your customers is critical for continued business success. But how can businesses make sure they are genuinely engaging their audience?
Just as core business functions have evolved, the way consumers interact with businesses has changed dramatically. Customer interactions are no longer about a cut and dry sales transaction. Consumers expect more. They want valuable relationships with their brands, a connection that goes beyond the value of a product or service, explains Mohan Sawhney, clinical professor of marketing and McCormick Foundation Chair of Technology at the Kellogg School.
That's why customer engagement is such a focus of businesses today. Building a successful business involves more than just enticing people to buy your product, it means engaging them on a more personal level.
"If you only talk to customers about what you sell them, they have the option of tuning out," says Sawhney. "The motto for engagement marketing is, 'Ask not how you can sell, but how you can help.''
Taking the right steps toward better customer engagement
For businesses looking to better engage their customers, there needs to be an active effort to create campaigns and programmes that do more than just pitch a product, there needs to be an acknowledgement of customer needs and desired outcomes.
So - how can you improve your engagement levels in the modern business world? Let's have a look.
Put the people at the centre of everything
There is no real path to customer engagement without understanding your audience first. According to Harvard Business Review (HBR), this kind of people-centric focus hinges on three main elements: culture, community and credibility.
Culture: This area is made up of societal factors. How does your audience communicate? What kind of outlook do they have? What is the current cultural climate? Where do they fit within this space?
Community: The focus here is on stakeholders. Some subsets of your customers may have different needs. How do you communicate with the different demographics? How do you ensure engagement attempts hit the mark for all of them?
Credibility: This element is all about building trust through all of your actions. Your influence is built through continued credibility in the eyes of your customers.
When you understand your customers through these areas and actively build up trust, you are building a foundation for genuine engagement. Customer are much less likely to interact with a company that does not have these core pillars of understanding in place.
Serve up some real value
Modern marketing is less about pedalling a product and more about offering value. Sawhney explains that current content must be genuinely useful on some level.
"It's advertising as a service, as opposed to advertising as interruption," argues Sawhney. "Essentially, you're offering customers value in exchange for their attention."
When you offer up useful advice or insights in your space, you have effectively earned the right to then start talking about your products. Provide your customers with things they can use and they will naturally start engaging with your platforms and products.
Let everybody in your business know that customer experience is their responsibility".
Don't silo the customer experience
One of the biggest mistakes companies made in the engagement arena was trying to separate customer experience into it's own unique box, explained HBR. In reality, customer experience extends to every corner of an organisation. The way your business works should be centred around the effective engagement of your audience.
This isn't something delegated to your marketing department or even a customer service team, it has a much wider reach. Communicate this to your entire team. Let everybody in your business know that customer experience is their responsibility. Empower people to act. Show them how to best interact with clients. Don't isolate customer experience.
Pick the right drivers
HBR argues that a big part of effective engagement stems from choosing the right tools to drive these interactions. The end goal here is to promote customer action through three things: context, catalysts and currencies. Context is all about delivering "the right offer to the right person at the right time," according to HBR. This involves factors like location, timing, platforms etc.
Catalysts are what encourage people to act. For example, loyalty and rewards programmes are great at driving engagement. When a customer sees that X amount of interactions result in a tangible reward they are more likely to engage.
Currencies are all about encouraging behaviours through a tangible value. This takes the form of cash rewards, discounts etc. but can also include non-monetary measures like loyalty points or general customer recognition.
Having the right drivers in place allows you to maximise your customer engagement levels through strategic moves. The culmination of these three factors is what makes for sustained engagement levels.
Engagement is something every business struggles to master. However, these steps are a great starting point. If you're looking to learn more about how to keep your customers engaged with a variety of incentives and rewards, reach out to one of our Power2Motivate reps today!