As customer expectations evolve, providing a quality product or service is not a big enough differentiator. This is leading companies to seek innovative ways to attract and retain loyal customers.
Everywhere you look, customer engagement is the topic of discussion. New data and analytical tools show that engagement is a top influencing factor in a customer's purchasing decision.
We made Engagement Waves™ to help answer these questions at a glance. More about that later in this article. For now, what is customer engagement?
Customer engagement is continuous relationship building between you / your service / your product / your company and consumer that goes beyond the initial transaction. It's intentional. It’s consistent. It’s intended to provide ongoing value to increase loyalty.
Customer engagement builds the customer experience. The customer experience is the perception that customers form based on everything they see, hear or learn about you / your service / your product / your company. Customer satisfaction them become the quantifiable judgement a customer places on the customer experience.
Aside from the obvious “increased sales”, there are many other benefits to customer engagement that position you / your service / your product / your company for sustained success and improve your return on investment. Companies that strategize and implement a customer engagement plan can:
Relationships have been the backbone of traditional storefront businesses forever and can be challenging to maintain in the digital age.
Regular communication with customers across platforms helps build rapport. Customer engagement doesn't start and end with the purchase, and consumers often have questions throughout the process. Effective engagement strategies allow you to connect with and consider consumers' needs from initial awareness to the purchase and beyond.
A health feedback-action loop between you and your customers helps ensure insight into how your customers feel product or service, the qualities that they value, and any areas of improvement needed to take action a better experience.
When customers feel heard and appreciated, customer retention increases. When you show genuine interest in your customers, the more likely they will renew and expand. Instead of a commoditized product, you become a partner.
With regular customer engagement, you will inevitably uncover more opportunities to share solution for their problems. Moreover, it's simpler to sell to a current customer versus a new lead. In fact, the likelihood of selling to a new prospect is just 5-20%, but the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%.
Upselling saves time, costs, and can help you to more quickly earn a profit. Using consumer trends and data, you can quickly assess product performance and identify up-sell opportunities, such as recommending products that are frequently brought together or purchased by similar buyers at a later date.
Now we get into the good stuff. Tracking activities is easy and hard. It requires intention, discipline, and consistency. Some company cultures turn activity tracking into a common place habit, others struggle and outright ignore it.
The struggle is further exacerbated when work activities are done across multiple apps. I can’t think of a single company that uses one app for everything.
Let’s first try and simply engagement into stages and categories. Work with your various teams to agree on all these terms. Remember, you want every one participating in and improving your customer experience. Spend time and effort getting this right. If you don’t, you’ll waste a ton of time, effort and resources re-working systems.
When you all done, you may come away with something like this:
Once you agree on stages and types, you will likely find that these exist in different apps. Pre-sales uses apps like DocuSign, Hubspot, Outreach, and SalesForce. Post-sales uses apps like Quickbooks, Stripe, Asana, Trello or Zendesk. Renewals, expansions and retention can include apps in pre- & post- sales, plus additional apps.
No matter the apps, the biggest difficulty in centralizing engagements is inconsistent or unpredictable use of the apps. When cross-department and inner-department processes change from person to person or app to app, finding a “common thread” is really hard. Spend time to get alignment.
From here, you have many options. Some put everything into spreadsheets, others spend 8 figures on a data warehouse. Whatever your method, the goal is the same. You want to identify a customer in each app and list associated activities. You want to know at least when, how, and who was involved with the interaction.
If you get through getting organized and centralizing engagements, the work really begins. Many companies stop here. Managers don’t understand the value or how to use the information. The biggest takeaway should be “how does X activity relate to Y outcome”, but this can be a real challenge.
That’s why we made the Engagement Waves™.
Engagement Wave | Example 1
Engagement Waves help you visualize your customer engagement against meaningful outcomes like deals. If gives you a temporal component to help emphasize the peaks of the interactions. It draws attention to the lack of engagement by flatlining. Finally, it allows you to inspect the diversity of interactions you have with your customer as they relate to specific events.
If we use our example visual, we can see a flurry of engagement type in the week we closed the deal, but very little prior and little after.
Engagement Wave | Example 2
In our second example, we can see how a lack of engagement lead to a deal turning to “Closed Lost”. It’s a simple, but critical for teams to see.
How easily can you discover these things today? What change could you inspire if you had these data visuals in the hands of all your team members?
The companies that treat customer engagement with the attention it deserves will win.
The companies that make customer engagement easier for their staff will dominate.