A great customer engagement strategy is key to closing a sale and building customer loyalty. And because 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with a company that offers personalized experiences, every business owner should make a serious investment in providing channels of communication to their customers. However, there is no cookie-cutter strategy for customer engagement, which is why we have invited the experts to share different ways to develop and improve customer relationships.
Here are the top 25 customer engagement strategies and tips from the pros.
1. Listen to Your Customers with Empathy
Sophie Miles Cayman, Vice President, QuotesAdvisor.com
In medicine, there’s something called the ‘Golden Hour.’ It is the first hour after the occurrence of a traumatic injury, considered the most critical for successful emergency treatment. We have taken that concept and adapted it to our business. The result is what we called: The Golden 10 Minutes. It’s the first and most important part of a phone or face-to-face conversation. Our vendors are trained to pick up the phone, and go into an “empathic listening mode” for 10 minutes, no less. Listening with respect, interest and understanding our clients’ concerns. This is a way to inspire a level of commitment in clients and the feeling of membership. It also helps us to give better service as the idea is: what they say matters to our company.
Give your client ways and means to communicate with you and they will offer their suggestions. But they will not spend their valuable time to write you an email with a full description of their complaints and suggestions. You have to call and listen them, like old times. Their comments may not always be positives, but once you know there is a negative, it is easy deal with.
2. Encourage Your Customers to Participate in Reviews
Sarah McVanel, Chief Recognition Officer, Greatness Magnified
Engaging your customers by providing ways for them to give shout outs to your best staff. Let them know that every review online mentioning their fave staff member earns that staff member tickets to the movie. Put a kudos board where customers walk in and out encouraging them to write a quick shout out on a great experience. Put a customer rating link at the end of every email to gauge satisfaction with the interaction. You can even brand it such as FROG – Forever Recognize Others’ Greatness – making the kudos, satisfaction buttons, etc., FROG shaped and themed! Finding ways for customers to recognize staff has a double benefit – it is a way of showing your customers that you value them too. And while you’re at it, reward customers for giving feedback such as a draw for a gift card or credit for products/services.
3. Learn What Really Matters to the Customer
Gustavo Mayen Esq. / MBA, Trial Attorney, Law Office of Gustavo Mayen
As a litigation attorney, I engage with clients in various settings and with various factors (and facts). Once their case starts, I have to first zealously represent the client, but along the way I have to ascertain what really matters to the client. As much as I would like to take each case all the way, not all clients want to take their case all the way to trial, and you (as the lawyer) have to both assess this, and also clarify this with the client (who is the ultimate decision maker). Although this is something that is harder to do at the beginning, with time and experience, you get to recognize this quicker and become better at both assessing it and knowing what to do with the case.
Being able to get to what really matters to the client (and quicker) makes it easier to know what the options are and how to better advise the client as to their case. To put it in perspective for a small business owner, it is an invaluable skill to be able to know not only why the person is your customer, but what really matters to the customer regarding this engagement. Different customers have different pain points, which may require a different approach. This approach requires listening to the customer (via what is said, body language, and possibly background), but the end result is invaluable in the long term.
4. Know How to Greet a Customer
Nancy Friedman, President, The Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training
Think outside the box. “Can I help you?” is standard, but you want to show that you really appreciate their business. Be creative: ‘Hi, glad you’re here. Thanks for coming in. I like what you’re wearing.” A memorable greeting is a great way to establish a connection with the a customer. “Can I help you” is weak and ineffective. Make an immediate acknowledgment of the customer when they enter a store. Smile and introduce yourself. By introducing yourself, they will know you are there to help them answer questions or make a purchase. Don’t ever wait for the shopper to come to you. If the customers say they are just browsing, tell them you’re glad they came, and you’re available if they have any questions. If the customers mention their name, use it. Honey, dear, and other useless other names offend, particularly women.
5. Build Customer Relationships Through Your POS
Meaghan Brophy, Ecommerce & Retail Senior Writer, Fit Small Business
If you’re a retailer, every time a customer purchases through your point-of-sale (POS) creates an opportunity to build a relationship with them. ShopKeep is an easy-to-use iPad-based POS with powerful customer engagement features. You can track information about each purchase, sync customer email addresses to MailChimp for targeted email campaigns, and create a point-based loyalty program to keep customers coming back again and again.
6. Promote Engagement by Asking Questions
Kevin Lindon Ryan, Creative Marketer and Founder, KLR | PR
Use Instagram Stories polls to ask your followers – current and future customers – questions. For instance, you might inquire about the kinds of content you share. Do they like it or want more of something? Survey your newsletter subscribers. Ask them how often they’d like to receive your newsletter, what topics are they interested in, and what type of tips, stories, or products they want to see. Incorporate the feedback you receive. Ask questions and even ask for comments in your Instagram posts. Follow a specific format that allows users to easily identify where the questions are—perhaps at the end of your caption. That way, they know what to expect, and you deliver with consistency. For instance, you might ask customers to comment below with their experience related to your post. Respond to these comments, and keep the conversation going to increase engagement.
7. Humanize Your Brand with Live Video
Tiffany Monhollon, Director for Marketing and Communications, ReachLocal
Dynamically optimizing across all channels for both desktop and mobile, including search, social, display, and video is key for local businesses. In particular, businesses need to think about how to humanize their brand, and live video can do that. Now that most social platforms have a live video option, it’s becoming more widespread and accessible for businesses small to large.
8. Use Twitter to Keep a Constant Flow of Customer Interaction
Simon Zaku, Twitter Marketing Specialist, SimonZaku.com
Customer engagement continues to be very important to businesses as consumers tend to care less about promotional emails, messages, content, etc., hence pay less time/attention to them. In 2018, the use of social media especially Twitter can be used to aid in customer engagement. Brands can leverage Twitter as a customer support tool to interact and engage with their customers on a regular basis. This will significantly grow the brand’s engagement and customer interaction. In fact, this doesn’t only keep a constant flow of interaction between brands and customers but can also grow their traffic and sales as research has proved.
9. Encourage Customer Engagement Through Mobile Apps
Ian Naylor, CEO, AppInstitute
One of the best ways to keep customers engaged is through the use of a mobile app. Whilst it’s undeniable that one of the best ways to acquire a customer is through your website, an app has a handful of benefits that offer an edge when it comes to engaging and retaining a customer – which is statistically cheaper than acquiring a new one! Your app can act as a loyalty scheme that sits on the users’ phone, with a coffee shop style punch card, or loyalty points system. You can also add vouchers to provide special offers to your top customers, and even send push notifications directly to their phone to bring them back to your business. Apps are one of the best ways to turn one-off customers into repeat buyers, and you can make one easily without coding using an app maker like AppInstitute.
10. Practice In-Person Interaction
Ricky Marton, Founder, Be Robin Hood
As a startup, customer engagement is something we are really trying to push to help spread our brand. The best results we have seen is engaging with our potential customers in person, then asking for their approval (off camera), and then making content for our “digital potential customers” to see. This particular video organically gained almost 50 shares and 5,500 views, back when we hardly had a following. We were showing how easy it is to change a life by allowing people to cut off a braid of my hair to donate to someone who needs it. Everyone loved the idea, but even more so the deeper meaning we were trying to portray. To get that close to individuals on a personal level in person sparks the desire for those just viewing it on their phones or computers to want to get involved as well.
11. Use Surveys to Get to Know Your New Clients
Lauren Brown, Operations Director, Coalmarch Productions
Every time we get a new client, we send them a survey. The first half covers the basics – what’s best time of day to call, what’s their ideal level of communication, etc. That helps us tailor our professional outreach to their needs. The second half is a little more fun – we ask about their favorite snacks, their hobbies, what their first job was. We use that information for everything from talking points on our monthly calls to picking the perfect gift to send when their site launches or they reach a particularly important goal. Prioritizing the little things in our client relationships makes them feel special and also brings a lot of joy to the team.
Surveys can give you a trove of important new customer information. Let Fit Small Business articles on the most popular survey solutions provider such as SurveyMonkey, Zoho, LimeSurvey and SmartSurvey help you decide which one will work best for your business.
12. Utilize Personalization to Maximize Customer Engagement
Lili Le, Marketing & PR Manager, GREAT WINE, Inc.
With improved production technology and the support of big data, many companies adopt personalization as a way to boost sales. Most companies that offer personalized products allow customers to put their names, anniversary dates, and messages on a product. However, personalization should go much further; after all, people are more than names and numbers. We can make personalization work by providing both the right products and the right environment. While experience can unpredictably happen among people at any time, business-minded professionals should ask the key question of how businesses and advocates of personalization can build a frame based on which unique experiences are created.
As an example, in June 2017, GREAT WINE opened its first tasting room in Bellevue, Wash., which serves as a private space where clients can talk about wine freely and learn about “vinotype”. Every client works very closely with wine specialists to uncover their preferences or needs. That is GREAT WINE’s way to show respect to the uniqueness of each individual and the uniqueness of each wine.
13. Avoid Being Too Sales-Oriented When Speaking with Customers
David Scarola, Chief Experience Officer, The Alternative Board
The Alternative Board 2014 B2B sales survey revealed that over half of customers believe the information they receive from vendors is too sales-oriented. It is common marketing knowledge that customers are getting smarter, and sales jargon is likely to turn them off. The most powerful sales approach is to educate the customer. A great way to do that is by providing a trial version of your service or product. This allows you to sell the product in a natural way. In fact, the same survey revealed that 64% of business owners are likely to be swayed by a free demo when testing a product or service.
14. Use Pop Culture References to Make Your Business More Relatable
Eric Ramos, Personal Injury Lawyer, Eric Ramos Law, PLLC
Here’s what I did: I am a local personal injury lawyer, and I wrote a fun hypothetical article using the movie “Home Alone” as the backdrop for a personal injury case. I made up the legal arguments for actual parties involved in the movie, and I used names of local attorneys and law professors as “attorneys” for the parties involved. I then gave my thoughts on the legal issues involved in the case. To my surprise, I got a lot of traction in the local community, with the local law school, and with some potential clients (I target other lawyers because many of my clients come from referrals). I am currently working on a blog post based on Jack Dawson’s family suing for wrongful death (Titanic) and criminal charges against Preston Waters AKA Mr. Macintosh (Blank Check).
15. Engage Your Customers with Simple Polls
Ayat Shukairy, Co-Founder, Invesp
One of the great inventions of the 21st post dot com bust were marketing technologies that could gather customer information, behaviors and insights in the easiest ways possible (who doesn’t love Google Analytics). A tool we created to collect further insights is Figpii, which includes a polling feature where you can ask a couple of questions to visitors to a certain page about their experience to learn more about how to improve it.
16. Use the ‘Four I’s’
Jason Perkins, Founder and CEO, San Diego SEO and Online Marketing Inc.
As a business owner, we experiment in different ways to engage more with our customers. It is very important that we think of new ideas every day, so as not to make our customers feel bored. I always take into consideration the four Is, which is involvement, influence, interaction, and intimacy. In my experience, if you can accomplish all four of these objectives, you will be able to reinforce long-term engagement with your customers. Plus, you will also get loyalty and advocacy. You should also give your customers a one of a kind experience every time they visit your business or your website. I value my clients and customers very much, and to me, they are considered family members, or guests to a private party.
It’s our job as business owners to make them feel special and give them the best customer experience — better than what they expect to get from you. Giving importance to every customer interaction is the key to a better business relationship with our clients.
17. Add Interactive Content to Your Website
Grant van der Harst, Managing Director, Anglo Liners
Providing interactive content is a great and creative way to engage your customers. Try to utilize the latest technology to do this if you can. For example, see if you can deliver your content in the form of a 360O video that can be viewed through virtual reality headsets. Customers tend to love this level of creativity and interactivity as the novelty of using something unconventional to view content captures their imagination. There is an abundance of new technologies on the market that are becoming increasingly common, meaning you will still be able to reach a large number of people.
18. Do More of What Works
Ali Jafarian, CEO, MemberDev
Many businesses get caught up in new product/service development to constantly please their customers. This is commonly found from the need to “innovate” and push new limits. Instead, take a look at what’s working well and do more of that. Leverage tools that track customer engagement online to help you see what’s working.
For example – Google Analytics (for page views), FullStory (for session replays), Mixpanel (for custom events), etc. Invest more time and energy into the strategies that already work to drive higher CLV (customer lifetime value).
Remember that most of the people on social media platforms are not there to be sold to, but rather, expect to spend their time leisurely scrolling and being entertained. This is why marketers need to be more relaxed and entertaining rather than sounding like a sales pitch. Your target audience will respond more by adding a more humanized approach to your posts. Sassiness gets a huge response and following, as voicey personas on Twitter are more interesting and more enjoyable to interact and engage with for the audience. However, it’s also important to keep to your brand even while working on gaining attention on social media.
Nowadays, free trial prospects can just as easily be considered as customers with the right engagement strategy. Keep in mind that the general question in these prospects’ minds is whether to upgrade their account or not. It is in this stage that customer engagement should be able to nurture and ultimately convert these prospects from free users to paying subscribers. Take the free trial phase as an opportunity to show your customers what your product can do and how good your customer support is through personalized communication that can help them feel more secure about your brand.
The very objective of customer engagement is to gain more clients to better improve sales. One thing that’s notable, however, is that scaling in order to maintain the same quality of relationship with customers becomes more difficult as a business succeeds in increasing its customer base. If unattended, this can pose a risk of losing hard earned relationships so knowing how to integrate CRM tools to your strategy is important if you want to avoid the problem. This ensures that all your customers will continue to enjoy the same personalized attention that they are used to, regardless of the number of customers you gain.
Your loyal customers can significantly help your efforts of customer engagement. Power users of your products will already have enough product knowledge and loyalty to your brand to be able to speak on behalf of your business. It would also be easy for potential clients to listen to them since they can be considered as reliable sources of reviews. Ask your power users to get involved in your marketing events that will allow them to interact with your potential clients. Chances are, they will be more than willing to help out.
It’s important that we find value on those customers who only shop on occasion since a McKinsey research revealed that –“Only 13 % of customers are loyalists, who don’t shop around” so knowing how to capitalize on the low to mid loyal customers through customer engagement can become a huge difference to the bottom line. Develop a specific line of communication for this segment of your customers and send a series of emails, even text messages with a theme that shows how you value their business.
It’s not surprising for customers to go out of their way to support businesses that sponsor a local non-profit. Sponsor and promote an event or a fundraiser and take the opportunity to engage your customers from there. Come up with creative ways in your establishment that customers can participate in for the benefit of the local organization you chose to support. This will not only improve your brand but will also build relationships and improve customer loyalty.
Instead of marketing emails that have lesser chance of being read and lead to conversion, in-product messaging is a good alternative. In-product messaging are customer messages placed directly on the product. And because customers will only handle a product when they have to use it, you’re always sure that your customers get your messages whenever they are relevant. This means that you can easily tailor your message to something that they would not mind focusing on, as opposed to interrupting their train of thought while at work or adding to the customer’s email fatigue with more marketing emails.
Over To You
A business relies its success on knowing how to gain and retain customers, without these, there is little to no opportunity for a firm to grow. Consider these ideas from the experts the next time you strategize on relationship building with your customers.
Got more customer engagement strategies you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!