Customer engagement is critical to any kind of business’s success. Engaging customers is rarely easy, though. If you find yourself wondering how to engage customers, you’re in the same position as countless other professionals who want to grow their businesses.
Getting genuine engagement from customers is a tall order when there are so many brands competing for their attention. You have to adopt just the right strategy when you’re considering how to approach and engage with customers. Customer engagement should be a balanced conversation, not a one-sided pitch. It’s easy to come on too strong and scare away the customer with too much talk about how great your product or service is. In that case, the customer would probably look for a different business that seems more interested in their needs.
It’s usually better to approach the customer with the goal of finding out more about them so you can position your product or service to solve their problems. Shouting at customers about why your product is the best in general does not invite engagement. On the other hand, starting a conversation about what the customer needs can lead to an authentic interaction that shows the customer how your product or service can provide value to them, specifically.
It’s easy to overlook customer engagement, but it’s one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. Without an effective strategy for customer engagement, it may be difficult to grow your business or to hold on to a consistent customer base. Without customer engagement, growth could stagnate and customers will most likely churn more easily. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered with plenty of information about how to engage customers.
The first big question is: why is it important to engage with customers? If you’ve spent any time in or adjacent to the world of sales and marketing, you’ve surely heard people bring up customer engagement countless times. But why exactly is it such a popular topic in business circles? The answer is simple: engagement is key to gaining and keeping customers.
When you understand how to keep customers engaged, you’ll likely notice many different positive business outcomes, like greater customer loyalty and more insightful customer data. Most importantly, when customers are engaged throughout the entire customer journey, your sales reps are more likely to close deals and your customers are more likely to receive a great experience that keeps them coming back for more.
Think about it in real-world terms — when a customer is detached from and disinterested in your brand and your product, are they very likely to continue receiving value from your product? Are they very likely to make future purchases or renewals? The answer is almost certainly “no” on both counts.
On the other hand, imagine a customer who is fully engaged with your brand experience — they actively use the product, view product education materials, and interact with sales reps or customer support staff. This customer is getting a lot more value from your brand, which means they’re more likely to remain loyal to the brand, which makes them a much more valuable customer.
An effective customer engagement strategy is typically a combination of multiple parts. It could include components like customer feedback, industry events, customer loyalty programs, customer training and more. Here are a few common strategies companies implement to improve customer engagement:
One of the best ways to improve customer engagement is simply to ask questions. Seize every opportunity to find out more about your customers in all the interactions they have with your business. When a customer calls support with a problem, don’t just give them a list of steps to troubleshoot it, but rather empathize and ask questions about the situation that will help you personalize the experience for the customer. Always ask customers to tell you how their experience has been and what could make it better — and most importantly: remember to actually follow up on that feedback!
Another great way to encourage customer engagement is to reward them for it. Loyalty programs show customers you value their business, and can contribute toward positive relationships with customers. More importantly though, customer loyalty programs give customers a reason to keep coming back. When they earn points or some other kind of reward for their purchases, it extends the value of the purchase far beyond that single visit and incentivizes the customer to continue their relationship with your brand.
Industry events aren’t only about networking with other business leaders — they’re also great places to win over new customers. Try prioritizing customer experience at your next conference by sending a customer support specialist along with your sales or marketing managers. By demonstrating extensive product knowledge and outstanding customer support skills at the conference, your support specialist can educate potential clients and give them a taste of the excellent customer experience your company offers. You’re not just selling your product — you’re also selling the customer journey.
Some of the most impactful customer engagement campaigns focus on improving engagement through better customer training. User education is one of the best customer engagement channels because of the way it affects time to value and product adoption.
Time to value is the amount of time it takes a customer to realize how a product or service can benefit them. Better customer education decreases time to value. If customers don’t recognize how they could be using the product to their advantage, it makes sense that they’d be less inclined to use it. Customers that see how beneficial the product or service can be in their lives are usually more engaged with it.
Time to value and product adoption are closely linked. When time to value decreases, product adoption improves — and improving product adoption goes hand-in-hand with better customer engagement. Product adoption means your customers are using your service or product frequently and integrating it into their regular toolset. Using a learning management system like Northpass is one of the most effective ways to shorten time to value, increase product adoption and boost online customer engagement.
Another popular (and highly effective) customer engagement tool is social media. In fact, social media is one of the best customer engagement tools at your disposal; if your business has no social media presence whatsoever, that’s a lot of customer engagement potential wasted.
Social media is a great place to engage customers because it’s built for interaction. Social media isn’t like a blog or a company website — customer engagement through social media is a two-way street via which you can deliver messages to your customers (and potential customers) and they can respond in a variety of ways, or even be the ones to start the conversation! Social media is an invaluable method of interacting authentically with your customer-base and generating authentic engagement from them in return.
It’s especially important to focus some of your business’s engagement efforts toward social media because it’s such a mobile-friendly medium. Your customers are busier today than ever before, and it’s essential to make your brand’s resources available to them on mobile platforms. This goes double for your business’s customer education materials.
If the previous ideas aren’t enough for you, here are a few more creative ways to engage customers that are almost sure to succeed:
Self-service tools are a great way to engage customers with your products or services. One great example of this tactic is integrated training. You can use high-quality learning management software to embed learning content directly into an app or software platform. This can make the app or platform more engaging by enabling the user to take charge of their own learning process. Any time they don’t know how to do something, you can present them with an opportunity to learn and practice hands-on
Sometimes, talking with other users is one of the best catalysts for engagement. You can try creating a place where your customers can interact and help each other. Many companies provide an online community forum for this purpose. Customers can use online forums to discuss the best ways to use the product or service, help each other troubleshoot problems or interact in many other ways. Some of the best ideas to engage customers come from other customers.
Engaging customers for the first time is one thing — but what about re-engaging customers whose attention you’ve lost? It’s not a position any business wants to find themselves in, yet nearly every business has been there before (probably many times). The good news is: with the right re-engagement strategy, you can win back even some of the toughest customers and show them why your brand is worth getting excited about again.
Here are a few parting tips to help you learn how to re-engage inactive customers:
Sending a message to inactive customers is a great way to reconnect with them and remind them that you still value the relationship. The message could be something simple like a “happy birthday” or a short note that draws their attention to something valuable that made you think of them (like an article about their industry).
Feedback from your customers is one of your most valuable tools. Asking for it directly gives customers a reason to re-engage with your business and shows them you care about the quality of the service they receive.
If you want to really go all-out, you can host an event for your customers. Even better, make it a recurring event that happens once or twice a year. You can use this event as an opportunity to gather your best customers together, present them with new, valuable insights about your industry and get them talking about your business.