28th September 2018

Customer Engagement – how important is it?

When we talk about customer engagement, what exactly do we mean? Any business that has survived the start-up stage knows it goes beyond simply managing to get customers to buy a product or service from your organisation. Customers today are engaged at all levels with an eye-watering awareness of the markets. Whether it’s from a practical and psychological response to brand image, comparing you and your competitors online, interacting with other customers to gather opinions and reviews, learning the details of your offering, their buying experience and post-sales interaction… How your company and offering are perceived is affected by how effectively you engage with the customers at each step.

As it is commonly known in business, if you can’t measure it you can’t improve it. It is therefore imperative that, while working on how best to engage your customer, you also devise mechanisms to help you measure the success of that engagement. This should take into account various metrics that link to customer engagement, such as: level of feedback, loyalty score, amount of subscriptions, page views, number of clicks, social shares, replies to emails, content submission, net-promoter score and of course, purchases. But the success of customer engagement can be difficult to measure. Tracking how many times someone visits your site might indicate engagement, but they could go and buy elsewhere. Engagement is not the same as consumption. To convert, we need to engage hearts a well as minds.

Innovative engagement ideas developed within your organisation will be more tailored to your specific business, ways of working, customer segments, offering and goals. Various tools can support and sustain innovation, and social media makes these possible to manage. A customer suggestion box, interactive innovation blogs that are well publicised and in the public domain are crucial. Knowing your market’s preference for means of engaging is key so be adaptive to their preferred styles. Also crucia is the ability to admit when you get it wrong, publicly and quickly, so you have the opportunity to transform a negative exchange into a wholly positive one.

There is extensive research showing how strong the link is between customer engagement and business success. Effective customer engagement has positive effect on measures such as order size, up-selling, cross-selling and profitability. Ultimately, successful customer engagement builds trust of the company’s brand, and if a company is trusted its products and services are trusted too. That means the customer is more likely to buy, to buy more and to buy again – providing that successful customer engagement has built loyalty to the brand. Loyalty is the big prize of course, of course, bringing with it not only a faitfulness but also helping to transform customers into brand advocates who will positively influence other potential customers.

The information gathered on the engagement of your customers is highly valuable to your business and should therefore be leveraged as much as possible. Your first step should be to refine the way you measure engagement to best focus on what is most relevant to your business and strategic goals. Then, the refined measurements should be used to complement your other business performance metrics into a coherent and comprehensive tool to report on and assess business performance. And finally, the assessment should link back to investment decisions in order to maximise return on investment in the future.

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