As we move in to 2018, it’s that time of year when everyone is reaching for that restart button, and listing out their resolutions for the coming year. Get in shape, save money, buy a new car, take a trip, call your family members more often, etc. All of these are examples of personal goals that we set to better ourselves as individuals. The same holds true for businesses when evaluating the accomplishments of the past year, and strategizing objectives for the new one. This strategy may include increasing profits, hiring new talent, increasing employee engagement, or making deals with larger clients. However, one particular goal that companies everywhere seem to be focusing on is the opportunity to enhance customer engagement.
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In the wake of a global social media tsunami, customers now have the ability to stay connected at all times. With technology constantly accelerating forward along with the integration of digital automation software, the glass screen between company and customer grows thicker and thicker. In an Accenture consumer research study evaluating the digital disconnect in customer engagement, one major issue found was that there is “too much reliance on digital technologies,” which has resulted in "human-less" customer service.
These developments cater to the need for faster services and response time, but can dehumanize you as a service provider. Does anyone actually enjoy speaking to those pre-recorded robot voices over the phone? Now more than ever, there is a need for creative and innovative solutions that increase and maintain customer engagement. Here are five tips to help ensure your customers feel connected and reassured that there is a live person beyond the screen of their mobile device.
1. Think like a customer
“Communicate unto the other that which you would want him to communicate unto you if your positions were reversed.” - Aaron Goldman
Our first day back in the office at CATMEDIA, we discussed a sort of mantra to live by for the 2018 year: “Think like a customer, act like an owner.” CATMEDIA and many other companies are strategizing on how they will improve upon the relationships they have with their customers. In order to really understand and communicate with your customers, it makes sense that you would first try to think like them. Who are they? What are their needs? What are their problems? What are their motivators?
These are just a few questions a marketer could ask in order to fully interpret the desires of their clients. Once these questions are answered, marketing becomes more than a job. You develop empathy for your customers by putting yourself in their shoes. In that way you develop personal relationships, and aim to deliver quality products and services by communicating with clients regularly, on a one-on-one basis.
2. Humanize your brand
“The greatest technology in the world hasn’t replaced the ultimate relationship building tool between customer and business; the human touch.” - Shep Hyken
After going through the motions of thinking like your customer and developing a confident understanding of their needs, the next step is to ensure that your brand is relatable. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the easiest task for companies that don’t fall into that “fun consumer brand” category. Typically, companies in fintech, healthcare, aviation, and energy stay on the semi-conservative side of marketing and advertising. This is not to say that voice can’t be given to these types of businesses.
Customers tend to respond well when they see and feel that there is someone passionate about their wants and needs. By delegating a real person within your organization to be a leader in advocating for your company’s products and services, you humanize your brand. This in turn creates reassurance that your company genuinely cares about its customers. Regular blogs, video content, speaking opportunities, webinars, and ebooks are all examples of ways to give your clients a voice, and in turn gain customer loyalty.
3. Personalize Customer Communication
“The basic building block of good communication is the feeling that every human being is unique and of value” - Unknown
It’s an inherent trait within us to feel like we are being spoken to directly and in a personable way. This rings true not only in our day-to-day lives, but also when it comes to how we feel we are being treated as customers. The vast numbers of channels to communicate through today make it possible to reach out and make consumers feel unique and recognized.
About 83 percent of U.S. consumers prefer dealing with human beings over digital channels to solve customer service issues (Accenture). These forms of personal communication can range from something as small as sending a “happy birthday” email to a customer to welcoming a new follower on social media by sending them a direct “hello” message. Sometimes even encouraging your customers to take quizzes can give you a clear idea of their unique interests and needs. In doing this, you are able to make suggestions that are relevant to them on a more personal level.
According to Verint, 61 percent of consumers would tell friends and family about their experiences, while only 27 percent reported that they would sign up to the company’s loyalty scheme.
Accenture reported that 51 percent of U.S. consumers are loyal to brands that interact with them through their preferred channels of communication.
4. Create useful content
“When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective” - Stephen R. Covey
Once you have an understanding of your customers and what they are searching for, you can begin developing content specifically catered to them. In order to obtain customer retention, rather than just selling them on any and every service you provide, you can make sure only certain messages or campaigns reach them. For example, in the marketing world, it's more often than not that agencies take on clients from different industries with very different needs. Your customers or clients are aware of that too.
So, how is an aviation company going to know that you can produce something for them that will be relative to their consumer base when you also produce work for healthcare companies? Content development in the form of blogs or ebooks can be useful that target the specific needs of an aviation marketing director. Topics of interest might include the latest marketing trends in aviation advertising or research on what aviation customers value most.
By developing an email marketing strategy where you can create specific lists of contacts, you can target a specific niche with your message. When you produce content that shows customers that you are an expert in their field, the level of trust and credibility increases in your brand.
41 percent of U.S.consumers are loyal to brands that offer them the opportunity to personalize products or create something that is bespoke to them.
5. Respond Promptly
"77 percent of people say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service." - Forrester Research
The same way you are pleased when people respond to your calls or texts, your customers are the same way. In a world where everything is delivered to your door, ready for pick up, or instant (like ordering online), consumer patience is at an all time low. Reverting back to the first point of “thinking like a customer,” it is crucial that businesses are responding to the questions, concerns, and needs of their customers as quickly as possible. Many organizations are taking this more seriously, and developing larger more advanced social media departments to respond in a timely manner.
This year, make it a goal to boost your customer engagement with these five simple tips! Have any other ideas for increasing engagement? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
Check out our ebook on organizational change for helpful tips here!
CATMEDIA is an award-winning Inc. 500 company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1997, the company specializes in advertising, creative services, media production, program management, training, and human resource management. As a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB), CATMEDIA provides world-class customer service and innovative solutions to government and commercial clients. Current CATMEDIA clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).