You have seen The Page Group speak to this topic numerous times in the past. We are strong believers (and preachers) that all actions taken by the marketing and branding teams need to keep a focus on a few key things 1) Customer Engagement and Activation ( a specific action is sought and needed to be a successful campaign) 2) its all about building Customer Loyalty and a strong Customer Connection with your core consumers. (Having a strong customer connection with your brand enhances the blue sky value someone will pay to own or invest in your brand)
The points raised in John’s article support those beliefs and he gives us some good guidelines to evaluate and use in creating that stronger brand connection with out customers, and to enhance the power of engagement with them through these efforts. Good reading.
Think Engagement: A Five-Step ‘Power’ Process
CMO EXCLUSIVES | January 30, 2014
Chief Growth Officer
Customer engagement is more than a buzzword. It is the level of involvement, interaction, intimacy, and influence individuals have with your brand over time. Yet companies continue struggling to operationalize a customer-centric strategy.
- CMOs must begin to shift their focus beyond simply providing customer service.
- Take the time to really learn what your customers want, what drives their brand perception, and what inconveniences them.
- Engagement turns to influence when your customers’ needs aren’t just met, but anticipated.
For most organizations, it’s very difficult to keep up with the ever-growing list of new and emerging channels: Technology costs are too high, implementation time is too long, and the learning curve is too steep. Still, there is value in creating customer interactions that are appropriate, relevant, timely, and within the consumer’s channel of preferred choices. As consumers’ wants and needs continue to evolve, the customer experience must also change.
CMOs must begin to shift their focus beyond simply setting strategies for providing customer service. Instead, they must make it a priority to “think engagement,” a process that comprises the art of listening, learning, connecting, influencing, and optimizing.
The Power Of Listening To Your Customers
Today, consumers have more power than ever to positively or negatively influence brands, and that power grows every day. As CMO, you can ensure that each interaction begins by proactively and reactively listening to the voice of your customers whenever and wherever they choose to interact with your brand. Using a combination of tools and technology, monitor the social landscape for brand-relevant conversations and capture incoming inquiries and feedback across voice, online, and social media channels.
By listening to your customers, you have the unique opportunity to gather key information, which can later be used to respond directly to their needs. This includes not only stated feelings, but also the intensity and emotion of those feelings. Your goal should be to create a singular stream of customer information that is channel-agnostic. When you’re able to compile this data from across the organization, you can draw meaningful and informed conclusions and ideas around improving the customer experience, making product enhancements, and learning what the competition is doing.
The Power Of Learning From Your Customers
Now that you know what’s on your customers’ minds, you can set out to discover more information about them. Start by reviewing their interaction history with your brand. Have they reached out to you before and, if so, across which communication channels? Why have they reached out to you in the past?
Savvy marketers must have the ability to sift through, organize, and prioritize every piece of customer data as they look for behavioral clues and actionable insights across every customer interaction. On the front end, this should include known transactional, demographic, and behavioral data about each customer, as well as information regarding their channel preferences, product purchases, and response history to offers. But don’t forget about post-interaction data. Companies should also capture customer feedback from satisfaction surveys, quality assurance scores, and key performance indicator results.
Take the time to really learn what your customers want, what drives their brand perception, and what inconveniences them. Then put together a complete picture of the customer experience from start to finish. By taking a moment to better understand your customers and what makes them unique, you can uncover valuable insight to help inform the right customer engagement strategy.
The Power Of Connecting With Your Customers
Once you have a complete view of your customers and their experiences with your brand, you’re ready to join the conversation. The insights gained by listening to and learning from your customers will help you connect in engaging and personal conversations across self-service, guided assistance, and peer-to-peer support channels. When you connect with your customers, you change the conversation and make it easier for them to do business with your brand. How you interact with your customers plays a crucial role in the engagement process because positive interactions lead to positive engagement.
To really connect with someone, you must be able to relate to them. It’s imperative to provide the personal and relevant information your customers need to accelerate the relationship. Treat your customers with honesty and integrity. Give them responsiveness with urgency across all channels. Provide the best possible experience and continually improve on them. Regardless of how your customers choose to interact with your brand, make sure they know they are valuable by acknowledging their unique wants and needs.
The Power Of Influencing Your Customers
Engagement turns to influence when your customers’ needs aren’t just met, but anticipated. While the days of controlling the marketing message are long gone, brands still have the power to improve customer sentiment and increase customer lifetime value. Whether it’s proactively providing information to help them find the answers they’re looking for, resolving issues, or presenting modeled cross- and upsell offers to further entrench them, your goal is to strengthen customers’ level of involvement and intimacy with your brand. Best of all, by positively influencing the customer experience, word of mouth will spread and pay dividends long after the initial customer interaction is over.
So how can you provide a great experience that keeps customers coming back for more as loyal patrons and brand evangelists? Start by deliberately making it your mission to turn disappointed or disaffected customers into delighted and devoted advocates. And for those customers who already have high expectations, take conscious actions to ensure they receive the same high level of engagement every time they interact with your brand. To influence your customers, you must listen and truly understand what they need, what makes them unique, what channels they communicate through, and what drives their satisfaction. But the real catalyst is to take ownership of their needs and concerns across every touch point along the customer journey.
The Power Of Optimizing Relationships With Your Customers
To ensure each customer interaction is more intelligent and engaging than the last, continuously refine and enhance the customer experience. Update your knowledge base with real-time information that can be accessed by your customers across Web and social channels, as well as by marketing, customer care, and PR teams. By analyzing, monitoring, and incorporating information into a self-learning knowledgebase, you can ensure your customers have the most accurate and relevant information at their fingertips. Apply quality-monitoring techniques to benchmark each interaction against your defined customer experience. And use information captured to inform product, marketing, and customer service decisions, while gaining a more thorough understanding of your customers and the reasons why they interact with you.
When your customers interact with your brand, it’s for a reason. But your customer-service strategies should go far beyond simply interacting with consumers. By taking the time to “think engagement,” you gain the invaluable opportunity to drive the conversation and create positive engagement across every touch point that influences them, optimizes the relationship, and builds loyal brand advocates. This process ensures your brand remains strong, relevant, and a valuable asset.
After all, the most important customer interaction is the one that happens next.
About John Hoholik
John Hoholik is chief growth officer at ACCENT Marketing.