The benefits that customer engagement can bring to a business are widely documented, and range from increased brand awareness and trust to improved customer retention and loyalty.
Nonetheless, the question of how best to engage customers remains an open one. Here, we outline 10 creative ideas proposed by experts in the industry – and then highlight exactly why each customer engagement strategy works.
1. Focus on the four ‘I’s
I believe that customer engagement rests on four objectives – a) interaction, b) involvement, c) influence and d) intimacy. As a business owner, if you can achieve these four objectives, you can reinforce long-term engagement, loyalty and advocacy towards your business.
Phil Grudzinski, CEO of the Professional Association of Customer Engagement [source]
If you’re relatively new to the concept of customer engagement, the four ‘I’s listed above offer an excellent starting point: they really get to the heart of what customer engagement is about and what it aims to do. If you try to incorporate these factors into every aspect of your business, you are likely to see customer engagement levels soar.
2. Offer customers an experience
We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com [source]
Customer engagement and customer experience are intrinsically linked; you cannot have one without the other. And this is something that a growing number of brands are aware of – according to some predictions, 44% of companies already see customer experience as their key differentiator, and this is expected to rise to 89% by 2017.
How can you use this insight to engage customers? Try to deliver an experience that is not only positive, but also memorable.
3. Deliver consistently excellent customer service
Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them.
Kevin Stirtz, Strategy Manager at Thomason Reuters [source]
It is already well established that good customer service is essential for retailers to flourish. According to the Institute of Customer Service, 63% of customers would buy from a retailer again after receiving good service from a member of staff.
However, consistently high-quality customer service is also important for customer engagement. This is because customer service interactions play a key role in helping customers develop active relationships with a brand – a vital ingredient for engagement to occur.
4. Engaged employees = engaged customers
We don’t employ people for their high-pressure sales skills; we choose team members who are friendly, enthusiastic and genuinely passionate […]. That means that our sales teams have something in common with our customers straight away, which makes it easier to build a rapport.
Julian Richer, CEO of Richer Sounds [source]
This tip highlights the powerful role that every staff member has to play in building customer engagement. The takeaway? Invest in recruiting, training and retaining the most engaged employees you can – and you will see the positive impact on your customers.
5. Use psychology
Engagement demands our customers take an action, to both initiate and maintain an engaged relationship, but how do you encourage action? An understanding of the principles and subtleties of the psychology of persuasion can be invaluable. Our ability to ethically use concepts like scarcity, consensus and reciprocity can help immensely when trying to engage audiences.
Richard Sedley, Director of the Customer Engagement Unit at cScape [source]
We’ve already written about the importance of incorporating psychological principles into your customer loyalty schemes – but, as this quote makes clear, a grasp of psychology is essential for customer engagement as a whole.
6. Personalise to engage customers
There are so many opportunities on the horizon, from mobile exclusives to geo-located offers to better filtering and searching. We’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible with personalization.
Michelle Peluso, CEO of Gilt Groupe [source]
Personalisation can not only increase sales by 19%, but also drive up customer engagement. Already, 75% of consumers like it when brands personalise messaging and offers. The lesson is clear: in this era of personalisation, delivering messages to your customers that are targeted to their interests and needs is a requirement, not an add-on.
7. Create a dialogue
The digital era has […] led to consumers having very limited attention spans. We therefore are finding ways to engage them like never before. This change in our approach enables us to go from simply having one-directional conversations to creating two-way engagements that are more fulfilling to our consumers.
Raja Rajamannar, CMO of MasterCard [source]
The aim of customer engagement is to develop a mutually beneficial, ongoing relationship between a customer and a brand; it’s not a one-way street. By focusing on developing conversations rather than simply sending messages, you can build a community of customers who actively engage with the brand.
8. Give customers the chance to become brand advocates
In the early days of the Graze business we relied on our most engaged customers to act as brand advocates. […] Ultimately this success comes from getting all elements of the customer proposition right and giving them the means to share this positive experience with others.
Noel Eves, Head of UK Online at Graze.com [source]
Transforming customers into brand advocates has two benefits: it attracts and engages new customers, while also increasing engagement levels among existing ones. Encourage your customers to make this change by providing them with opportunities and incentives – for example, by implementing a ‘refer a friend’ scheme.
9. Create a joined up customer journey
We will continue to see a convergence of the digital and physical world. Those who conquer that trend will be market leaders.
John Phillips, Senior Vice President of Customer Supply Chain and Logistics for Pepsico, Inc [source]
It is no longer relevant to think about customers’ engagement with brands in terms of different channels – today’s customer can flit between a retailer’s website, social media streams, smartphone app and bricks and mortar stores seamlessly, and expects the brand to keep up.
For this reason, if you want to keep your customers engaged, it is imperative that you focus on the complete customer journey – only then can you create the joined up, connected experience that they expect and deserve.
10. Learn from your failures
Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.
Bill Gates, Former CEO of Microsoft [source]
The customers that you fail to engage can provide you with the most valuable feedback, and must not be overlooked when it comes to refining your current customer engagement strategy. By analysing the relevant feedback and data, you can gain valuable insights into what works – and what doesn’t – with your customers, and use this knowledge to shape future plans.
We hope these creative customer engagement strategies serve as useful inspiration for you. If you’d like to learn more about how K3 can support you in providing your customers with an engaging, joined up journey, take a look at our What We Do page.
Are any of the above ideas already a part of your customer engagement plan? Or do you have any other strategies you’ve found to be effective? Please share your experiences below.