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The Team at CallMiner
December 30, 2021
Customer engagement plays a pivotal role in every business’s operations, and as such, it is a hot topic in today’s customer experience discourse. Heightening customer engagement involves tailoring your company’s services and products to more effectively fit the needs of your client base. To do this, it helps to have a good idea of where to start. In this article, you will find proven strategies others have employed to improve customer engagement as well as a variety of useful tips to enhance your efforts.
Engaging with customers on a deeper level promotes longer lasting brand loyalty and consistent profit growth. However, refining your organization’s customer engagement process can be a difficult process to handle.
There are numerous factors to take into consideration for improving customer engagement, but the best options for your business might not necessarily be the ones that you suspect. To boost your company’s customer engagement results, you should first understand just what the term refers to and how it differs from similar concepts.
Customer engagement can best be defined as the totality of interactions between your company and its clientele.
Some also attribute due importance to the actual depth of a customer’s interactions with your company when defining this term. Each time someone interacts with your business, they demonstrate their level of engagement and loyalty to your brand.
Although customer engagement deals with the relationship your business has with each prospective and repeat client, the term is not interchangeable with customer experience. Customer experience serves as a more inclusive catch-all term for a given customer’s perception of a business’s entire offering and presentation, whereas customer engagement centers on interactions between the two.
Customer engagement plays a significant role in the overall customer experience. Today’s consumers interact with brands across a multitude of channels, from calling customer service to commenting on social media, engaging with live chat on a company’s website, visiting the company’s knowledge base or engaging with self-service options, emailing, and more. Most consumers understand that service levels may differ from channel to channel. They may not expect to find the solution to a problem immediately through self-service options, but when calling into the call center, they want to end the interaction with their issue resolved. That said, they do expect communications across channels to be consistent.
According to Salesforce, 83% of customers expect immediate engagement after contacting a brand, and 66% of customers expect the companies they interact with to anticipate their needs and expectations. Today’s consumers also expect messages to be tailored based on the channel, and 76% of customers use more than one channel throughout a transaction. While meeting customer expectations is crucial, it’s also vital to the company’s bottom line. Research from Gallup found that companies that effectively engage their B2B customers benefit from 63% lower customer attrition, for instance, as well as a 55% higher share of wallet.
Improving customer engagement can also have a noticeable positive impact on brand loyalty, encouraging one-time purchasers and clients to become repeat customers by ensuring all interactions and touch points are managed smoothly.
Where basic customer satisfaction ends, the cultivation of loyalty-building customer engagement habits begins.
The concept of customer engagement is easy to understand, and it’s clear that it offers numerous benefits for both customers and organizations. However, boosting customer engagement isn’t always easy and simple. According to Oracle, for instance, by the time customers actually engage with a brand, 57% of the purchase decision is already complete. That means brands may miss opportunities to engage prospects and nurture them through the sales funnel until more than half of the customer journey is complete.
Consumer trust in retailers and manufacturers has declined by more than 50% since 2014, according to Deloitte, meaning that consistent customer engagement is a must to stay on top of customer needs and expectations and deliver on them effectively. Another challenge is that 70% of consumers expect companies’ websites to have self-service options, and 40% prefer self-service options over human contact. While self-service options such as knowledge bases are engagement, the lack of human-to-human interaction means that it’s more difficult to adapt and respond in real-time to customers’ needs and emotions. For this reason, today’s companies must take a proactive approach to engaging customers across all channels.
Conversation analytics enables companies to analyze every interaction across channels for consumer intent, action, and emotion through unsolicited feedback. Coupled with feedback solicited through customer satisfaction surveys and other efforts, conversation analytics enables companies to gain a more complete understanding of their customers to make data-driven decisions and keep customers engaged throughout the customer journey.
Looking for more ways to drive customer engagement? Below, we’ve rounded up 26 valuable strategies and expert tips for improving customer engagement in your organization.
1. Leverage conversation analytics to inform next best actions.
“Most organizations today use the insights from contact drivers descriptively, to document what took place in the past and try to derive patterns from these events. This includes disposition or reason codes for calls – most contact centers only record one of them (meaning identifying a single reason why a customer contacted them) and agents pick them from a pre-defined list. This is inherently limiting – and there is the opportunity to do more. The real value comes when you’re able to take that process a step further, using predictive analytics to determine the reasons why customers are most likely to contact your organization about based on past interactions. True organizational change is achieved when you use contact driver data prescriptively and proactively.” - The Hidden Power of 14 Key Customer Contact Drivers, CallMiner; Twitter: @CallMiner
2. Implement a loyalty rewards program.
“Customers don’t want to feel like they’re missing out on something. When you add value to every engagement that a customer has with your brand, you’ll create a powerful switching barrier. They’ll be less likely to shop with a competitor, since they’ll miss out on additional value they could earn from your store.
“Loyalty program members not only make purchases more often, they also have an average order value that is 12% higher than their non-member counterparts which makes them a critical part of your growth strategy.” – Alex McEachern, What is Customer Engagement, and Why is it Important?, Smile.io; Twitter: @smilerewards
3. Become more customer-centric.
“Research tells us 73% of customers fall in love with a brand because of friendly customer service representatives. Furthermore, according to McKinsey, 70% of buying experiences are related to how the consumers feel they are being treated.
“Clearly, the staff plays a massive role in engaging customers. Maybe that’s why Amazon – that strives to be the most customer-centric company on earth – enjoys such massive success. Yet, according to the CMO Council, only 14% of marketers believe that customer centricity is ranked high within their organization.
“Improving customer engagement rate means adopting a customer-centric business model. Don’t simply focus on selling. Develop connections that go much deeper. Equip your customer-facing teams with the right technology and emotional intelligence training to do this. Only then can you deliver the best possible customer experience.” – Dhawani Shah, 8 Customer Engagement Strategies That Actually Work, Acquire; Twitter: @acquire_io
4. Keep customers in orbit with valuable expertise.
“Become an expert in the things your customers care about and help them learn about it. If you sell HR management software, provide job description templates and advice on how to recruit the best employees. If you provide email marketing software, create content that helps customers create beautiful emails (like templates or best practice guides). Helpful content will always find an audience and your customers will be keen to share it – they will boost their own visibility by sharing great content too!” – Customer Engagement, Freshdesk; Twitter: @freshdesk
5. Give your brand a human touch.
“At the heart of everything, it’s important to understand that every customer wants to feel you understand their needs and that they can relate to your brand. This is easier for fun consumer brands like Red Bull or Nike than for more conservative brands like banks or B2B companies. But even these businesses can be humanized without trying to squeeze themselves into a contrived persona that won’t resonate with their audience.
For example, find a personality within in your organization who is passionate about your brand and a natural communicator. Grow that person into a thought leader and give them a voice to humanize your brand and engage your audience.” – Audrey Ference, 7 Customer Engagement Strategies That Marketers Can’t Ignore, Outbrain; Twitter: @outbrain
6. Build engagement from the inside out.
“Sometimes, customer engagement can occur as a result of another initiative. After hearing about his employees’ struggles, Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, decided to implement a minimum annual salary of $70K. While the move was meant to improve employee satisfaction, productivity, and quality of life, the change also had a profound impact on customer engagement.
“Monthly leads grew from 30 to 2,000 inquiries, profits doubled, and customer retention increased from 91% to 95%. It was clear that customer engagement was directly tied to employee satisfaction. When employees are treated better, they want to work harder for their companies, which results in happier customers.” – Basha Coleman, The Ultimate Guide to Customer Engagement in 2021, HubSpot; Twitter: @HubSpot
7. Incorporate bold emotions and values into your brand image.
“Since emotion remains the driving force behind a customer engagement strategy, it’s necessary to define core values around which to structure your brand identity, and those values can’t be tentative. A hesitant and ill-defined brand identity precludes heartfelt customer engagement, since your identity won’t truly resonate with anyone.
“Be bold. Decide which qualities your brand wants to represent and uncompromisingly stand for what you embody. Being decisive might be intimidating; perhaps taking a clear stance could alienate certain people? It will, but that’s not a bad thing. For every person who decides you’re not their cup of tea, one might think, ‘this is the perfect brand for me.’” – Lola Barbier, How to Build a Successful Customer Engagement Strategy, Aircall.io; Twitter: @aircall
8. Incorporate analytics tools for deeper insight.
“Affordable and out-of-the-box analytics systems – like Mixpanel, Amplitude, and Heap – have made it easy to measure product engagement by customer.
“With analytics systems like these, you can get visibility into customer engagement through product usage. You can run reports and build dashboards on all kinds of metrics, like which features are being used by which personas, what cohorts are likely to churn and when, and how far a new user gets before dropping off.” – Jackson Noel, 10 user and customer engagement strategies for leveling up in 2020, Appcues; Twitter: @appcues
9. Give your customers a voice.
“People will be more likely to engage with content involving consumers just like them, rather than with your brand’s messaging. That is because they can relate better to real people. Olapic found that user-generated content is the most trusted type of content among consumers. It is also the type of content that people engage with regularly.
“Use social media to share your customers’ stories. These stories can be in the form of reviews, testimonials, user-submitted photos, and more. You will be able to win the trust of potential customers and even drive them to convert when you share customer stories on social media.” – Shane Barker, 7 of the Best Customer Engagement Strategies to Foster Your Brand’s Growth, SEMRush; Twitter: @semrush
10. Try in-product messaging for more tailored interactions.
“You should segment your email list. Because if you don’t, you’ll blindly send the same message to everyone.
“Sadly, not everyone of your subscribers or ideal customers want your latest product or eBook.
“Sending out of context emails will likely increase your customer’s email fatigue.
“The ideal approach is to message a specific segment of your customer base with the exact product/offer which they’ve indicated interest.
“In-product messaging is a viable strategy to adopt, because there is a market fit, which is the direction correlation between product and market.” – Ian Blair, 13 Easy And Effective Customer Engagement Strategies, buildfire; Twitter: @BuildFire
11. Use customer reviews to your advantage.
“When you think of engaging content, reviews may not be the first thing that comes to your mind. But customer reviews are a powerful way to re-engage current customers while also increasing your conversion rates from social and raising brand awareness.
“Why do people like to interact with customer reviews? For one, people can relate to content written by real customers more than brand messaging. Honest reactions from their friends, family, and social connections are more warmly received than generic branded content.” – Maria Katosvich, 7 indispensable customer engagement strategies, MyCustomer.com; Twitter: @MyCustomer
12. Turn interactions into games.
“Gamification is one of the most useful ways to boost long-term engagement, and one of the best times to implement it is after customers sign up. This onboarding phase is a time ripe for establishing how customers will feel about your brand.
“Why we recommend this customer engagement strategy: In addition to boosting engagement, gamification also builds customer loyalty. By introducing gamification right when customers are introduced to you, you increase the chances they will be engaged, loyal customers.
“How to implement this strategy: Think of new, innovative ways to keep customers engaged with your brand or even fellow shoppers. The only thing shoppers like more than a challenge are the rewards at the end of it.” – Aimee Millwood, 10 Customer Engagement Strategies You Should Be Using, Yotpo; Twitter: @yotpo
13. Be consistent across all channels.
“Nowadays customers start interacting with a brand on one channel but continue their conversations across other channels. Therefore, delivering consistent customer experience across all touchpoints is the key element of the customer engagement model.
“Omni channel customer engagement involves streamlining all the customer interactions across multiple channels like website, social media, phone, apps, or retail store under one platform to engage them and provide a personalized consistent omnichannel customer experience.
“Regardless of the number of touchpoints involved, customers evaluate their journey with brands as an overall experience, and this is what determines to have a solid customer engagement strategy in place.” – Snigdha Patel, How to Build a Customer Engagement Strategy, REVE Chat; Twitter: @REVEChat
14. Organize an event or summit in your sector.
“B2B companies most commonly use this strategy since they have high-value customers, and relationship with them needs to be developed and nurtured. This can be done in many forms like webinars, seminars, and conferences.
“This explains how beneficial summits can be, both for an organization and its customers. They can be instrumental in improving existing relationships with customers by helping them engage with the brand directly, put up questions, and provide suggestions. This makes them feel that they are an integral part of the brand.” – Brayn Wills, What is Customer Engagement: Strategy, Examples, and Tips, CustomerThink; Twitter: @customerthink
15. Seize opportunities quickly with warm clients.
“The chances for a user to convert from the status of ‘interested’ to the status of ‘partner’ significantly increase if the response to their action or request occurs as soon as possible.
“Harvard Business Review notes the surprisingly long response time of most US companies:
“A callback or a chatbot on the website allow you to significantly increase the likelihood of a sale. Moreover, working with a ‘warm’ client is much more effective than ‘cold’ calls.” – Megan Ranger, Customer Engagement Strategies to Try in 2019-2020, Nimble; Twitter: @nimble
16. Create digital communities.
“When getting customers to engage with you, you must give them a platform to do so. Creating a digital community for your offerings, brand, and industry is a great place to start. You not only give your customers a place to interact and connect with your business and each other, but also increase brand awareness. Effective digital platforms allow customers to create content, answer questions, and become ambassadors for your products and services.
“Sephora's Beauty Insider is a prime example of a digital community. With almost 1.5 million members, the Beauty Insider draws users with a common interest in beauty and makeup. Designed like a social media platform, the digital community shares makeup tutorials and other valuable content related to the brand.
“By creating a digital community, your company provides a sharing and discussion forum to establish a community of users with a shared interest and builds a loyal customer base.” – Ben Lilienthal, 5 Real-Time Customer Engagement Strategies, ScreenMeet; Twitter: @screenmeet
17. Develop a customer-centric focus.
“A strong customer engagement strategy starts with alignment across the company around the importance of the customer. Customers should be the beating heart across everything your organization does and across each and every department.
“To encourage a customer-centric mentality, company KPIs should be centered around customers and include customer engagement goals. All departments have to come together as one unified front that will appeal to customers with a clear vision and consistent voice.” – Jeff Breunsbach, Your Guide to Building a Strong Customer Engagement Strategy, Higher Logic; Twitter: @HigherLogic
18. Consolidate customer data for more efficient analytics.
“Nearly every marketing team experiences difficulty when it comes to unifying their customer data. We operate in a world where we are collecting more data than ever before and this data is held in more disparate silos than ever before, meaning marketers are relying heavily on IT or third parties to provide this data in a clean, readable manner. In turn this makes it difficult and time-consuming for marketers to act upon any insight they gain from their data – let alone creating data-driven customer engagement strategies!” – Anthony Botibol, Step-By-Step Guide for an Effective Customer Engagement Strategy, Upland BlueVenn; Twitter: @bluevenn
19. Look into AI-empowered approaches to discounting and more.
“Customer engagement and proper expectation setting are critical considerations for any business. Customers typically respond more favorably to dynamic discounts than to dynamic pricing. That’s because everybody likes getting a deal, no matter how much. In a world where brands are touting personalized offers to customers via loyalty programs based on engagement history and AI technologies, there is a precedent set by marketers treating customers unequally. This is the window of opportunity for businesses to capitalize more effectively on customer engagement, and more specifically, dynamic discounting.” – Jonathan Treiber, How AI-driven discounting leads to more effective customer engagement, RetailCustomerExperience.com; Twitter: @retexperience
20. Inspire consumers with social/environmental leadership.
“The Edelman Trust Barometer for 2019 shows that the public is looking to business for leadership on big social issues: 76% of survey respondents said CEOs should take the lead on change, rather than waiting on governments to impose it. Issues like equal pay, discrimination, and the environment were among those areas that people thought CEOs could create positive change in.” – Loren Webb, The 3 defining C’s in the future of customer engagement, Dynamic Business; Twitter: @dynamicbusiness
21. Invest in a strong online presence.
“IDG Connect and Siteimprove conducted a survey of over 100 marketers worldwide, working at companies with at least 1,000 employees in various industries, and discovered a mixed picture: while modern marketers are committed to digital tools, many admit to having suboptimal online presences where budgets, team structures, infrastructure, and content quality and freshness are questionable.
“The results point to a desire for marketers to optimize the customer experience across every touchpoint. That aim is commendable but, as the research makes clear, there are serious obstacles along the way.” – Digital Marketing Depot, How marketers confront the obstacles of digital customer engagement, Martech.org; Twitter: @martechismktg
22. Simplify the disengagement process for your customers.
“Once brands have mapped their customer base more effectively, they need to re-imagine the processes that customers in different phases can take when wanting to end their brand relationship. Fundamentally, errors in mapping the customer journey are rooted in the process companies utilize to track their customer interactions.
“To address this, brands need to optimize their customer life cycle process by bringing together the people running the processes to collect their feelings and suggestions on things like customer service, sales, and marketing. Organizations should be checking the necessary supporting documents for the successful completion of the end-to-end leaving process. And lastly, brands should improve on the subscription process that already exists, using all the information collected, and under the control of a centralized process owner.” – Stefan Krumnow, Why Easy Disengagement is Your Best Long-Term Customer Engagement Strategy, MultichannelMerchant; Twitter: @mcmerchant
23. Hone your deflection skills for better customer interactions.
“Deflection is a particularly tricky term because, by definition, to deflect a customer means to turn them away. Further, it’s widely believed that deflecting customers to less expensive digital channels is the best way to cut costs.
“That said, when deflection is carefully designed and properly executed, it’s not about rebuffing customers, it’s about helping them optimize their time with the right channel. Referring customers to alternative mediums can be highly effective and result in a faster resolution.” – Priyanka Tiwari, Rewriting the Language of Customer Engagement, CMSWire; Twitter: @CMSWire
24. Use images and even emojis for better emotional connections with customers.
“So, far from being a formality fail, emojis enable customer engagement. Emails with an emoji in the subject line have better click-throughs, social media posts that have images have more responses. Words alone don’t cut it anymore as they don’t reflect the language changes of customers.
“That’s not to say you should go from zero to heavily emoji laden comms; there are some clear rules of thumb to get the best out of these modern day hieroglyphics. For example, start by using them in real-time – whether it be by chat, social media or on feedback buttons – by catching customers in the moment you can boost engagement.” – Lindsay Willott, Using emojis for business communications and boosting customer engagement: A guide, MarketingTech; Twitter: @MarketTechNews
25. Encourage customers to engage with others as well.
“Driving positive customer engagement doesn’t have to happen solely between a customer and a brand. Moreover, engagement is more authentic when it is happening between customers.
“Loyal and returning customers hold the opportunity to become a referral network to win over the hearts of new prospects. Empower your current customers to easily share your brand with friends and family, and help you attract new customers. While doing them, showcase the benefit they get with fun incentives.” – Nikolina Maškarić, Drive Better Customer Engagement, Paldesk; Twitter: @paldesk
26. Base your approach on concrete results.
“Communication between a brand and its customers is an ongoing process. You can’t follow one strategy or tool to increase the communication. You must apply various ways to increase the interaction. In the present scenario, customer engagement has become more important than any other business activity.
“Your engagement strategies should be result driven. You should know why you are doing it and how you are going to do it. Your customers will see, what you want to show them. The more they can understand your business the more opportunities you will get for revenue generation.” – Top Customer Engagement Strategies You Must Try, Apogaeis; Twitter: @apogaeis