We live in the era of easy access to information. With a few clicks, customers can evaluate products and services, compare prices and make a purchase. Customers hold more power in the relationship than ever before. With this dynamic at play, how do you stand out? To truly differentiate your brand, you must build meaningful customer engagement — proactive, deliberate, and measurable — across the entire customer journey.
The benefits of truly engaging your customers are tangible. According to Forbes Insights, who in association with Pegasystems Inc., recently released its inaugural “50 Most Engaged Companies” list, leaders in customer engagement are:
- 4x more likely to experience growth of more than 10 percent
- 3x more likely to be in the top quartile of “Net Promoter Score”
- 3x more likely to see high acquisition rates
- More likely to experience a churn rate of 10 percent or less
What can we learn from customer engagement leaders? Here are five lessons from the likes of Amazon, Alphabet, Starbucks and Foot Locker that can help your company start building more meaningful customer engagement immediately.
Align Your Organization for Customer Engagement
Customer engagement doesn’t happen by accident. According to Forbes Insights, “Leaders invest more in staff resources to focus on customer engagement, which includes hiring, training and enablement.” Furthermore, engagement leaders are more likely to have a dedicated executive accountable for customer engagement.
A customer-centric culture begins at the top, and only from there can change and improvement take place. When someone with political power advocates for the customer, you ensure that changes are lasting, impactful and truly representative of what your customers want.
Take a Data Driven Approach
Interactions with your customers are more meaningful when driven by data, and the ability to proactively tailor and personalize these interactions requires analysis of customer data. Interestingly, it is not data volume that separates customer engagement leaders from followers, but an ability to derive meaning and insights from data that already exists.
More leaders (52 percent) than followers (43 percent) choose a customer engagement strategy based on insights gained from customer-related technologies. Leveraging leading technology partners enable you to collect, analyze and distribute insights that improve customer interactions.
Focus on Business Impact
Customer experience and engagement are often viewed as “soft” business objectives, but for companies that excel in these areas, that’s simply not the case. In fact, these companies are keenly focused on business results. “Their approach is also more long term, as customer lifetime value is more important to them than it is for brands that are less engaged,” according to the list.
ROI and business impact are more difficult to tease out of data that was created without a specific business objective or goal in mind. Architect solutions that measure predefined business cases to ensure your efforts have meaningful — and quantifiable — results. Use these results to adjust your engagement practices as needed, reevaluate and adjust again. Remember: that which is measured improves, and that which is measured continuously improves exponentially.
Customer engagement only works when implemented in a way that customers find useful. Shep Hyken writes on Forbes.com, “In the end, the customer doesn’t care about how many channels you make available to them. They just want to buy the way they want to buy, have their questions answered, their problems solved and their comments acknowledged. It doesn’t matter what channel. So, why do we keep talking about different channels? It’s really about connecting and responding to the customer.”
Is your approach creating a disjointed experience for your customers? Do you offer consistent service across all channels? Focusing on the entire customer journey — no matter which channels the customer uses — is critical to building more meaningful customer engagements.
Stay Human (While Innovating)
Both leaders and followers leverage technology to more efficiently engage with customers. There is, however, a major difference in which technology they use. Leaders are significantly more likely than followers to use technology that mimics human interaction, such as chatbots, virtual assistants and video support. In addition, leaders invest more heavily in technology that allows for always-on, automated learning from their customer interactions and use these insights to engage customers in more intelligent, useful and proactive ways.
Whether implementing these strategies will require a subtle shift — or dramatic changes — for your company, one thing is certain: with a committed investment of time and resources, any brand can build a leading customer engagement program that drives measurable business results.