Three Creative Ways to Engage With Your Customers

At this point it’s no secret that customer engagement is critical for business retention and growth. According to one study, companies with the strongest omnichannel engagement strategies retain about 89 percent of their customers while companies with weak strategies only retain 33 percent.

It’s one thing to recognize the need for customer engagement, though, and another thing to execute it effectively. Many marketing departments today are trying very hard to encourage dialogue with their customers, but a large number are failing in their efforts. Engagement needs to be done very carefully in order to invoke valuable responses from customers.

Is your team struggling to engage with customers? It’s time to start thinking outside of the box. Here are three strategies you can try to encourage customer engagement:

Expand your horizons: Some companies today are rather limited in terms of the subject material they have to talk about online. That’s because certain industries simply have little industry news, and products that are pretty self-explanatory.

Engagement for companies in this situation, however, is not impossible. It just requires taking a different focus. One company that does this very well is The North Face, makers of outdoor athletic gear. Instead of talking about their industry or their own products, the company’s blog highlights all of the amazing professionals who are using North Face gear in the wild. There are stories and interviews with mountaineers, snowboarders and even conservationists. The content is interesting and highly sharable online.

Value customer input: When you think of customer engagement, your first thought may be Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. Understand, though, that customer engagement needs to extend beyond social media.

One of the best places to engage customers is over the phone, with the help of a dedicated contact center. Give customers direct access to support specialists, technicians and even managers. Provide direct opportunities for feedback and suggestions. Then, show customers how you are taking their input seriously. In doing so, you will make customers feel like they are part of your team. And in response, they will be much more likely to reward your company with brand loyalty.

Host a webinar: Take customer engagement to the next level by hosting an online webinar where you zero in on an important subject and provide a comprehensive educational experience. You could offer commentary from your own team members, outside industry experts and even customers who are using your products on a daily basis. A webinar is an excellent way to attract new customers, retain current ones and penetrate new markets.

While it may take some effort to engage with your customers, it certainly won’t be impossible to get them to interact with your team members. The more you do it, the more interest you will generate in your products and services.

 

62 Billion Reasons to Make Customer Service a Priority in Your Budget

Customer service continues to be one of the most widely-discussed topics in business today. It’s talked about endlessly on LinkedIn. It’s been the subject of countless keynote addresses. And it’s discussed daily in board rooms around the world.

Many people, however, are still wondering why customer service is so important. They know they need customer service, but they are still struggling to understand why they have to play the game and keep customers happy. After all, the “customer first” attitude is still a relatively new phenomenon. A few decades ago, before the advent of the Internet and social media, companies took a much different approach to customer service.

Now, there are many ways to approach this question. I’m going to tackle it from a purely financial standpoint:

Poor customer service can cost your organization a lot of money. End of story.

In fact, according to one recent report, businesses are losing a total of $62 billion per year through poor customer service. And this figure is increasing annually.

This is because we are living in an ultra-connected era, where customers have endless options at their fingertips. If a company fails to meet a customer’s expectations, all that customer has to do is take to Google and consult with a competitor. There are endless options available to browse. And as the above figure shows, customers are not afraid to shop elsewhere when they are let down with poor customer service.

Here are two more telling statistics about the importance of providing great customer service:

  • 86 percent of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience by 2020.
  • By 2020, the customer experience will surpass product and price as they key brand differentiator.

So, what can your business do if it’s falling behind in its customer service efforts? Understand that strong customer service starts and ends with a reliable contact center. So if your customer service department is failing to perform up to expected standards, it may be time to consult with a third party business process outsourcing provider who can streamline the process for you and help you generate the profits your company is capable of producing.

Contact center operations, in other words, can be outsourced in the same fashion that you would with any other business solution. A company like InfoCision, for instance, will offer cutting-edge, hosted infrastructure, high quality — and experienced — Customer Communicators and a data-driven approach to marketing. Altogether, you will save money by outsourcing while also gaining all of the pieces you need to provide amazing inbound and outbound interactions.

What Can Happen When Customer Service Goes Right

Earlier this year, a 16-year old named Carter Wilkerson became an overnight online sensation when he publicly challenged the customer service department at fast food giant Wendy’s on Twitter — and won, in a big way.

It all started when Wilkerson took to Twitter and asked Wendy’s how many retweets he would need to receive a full year of free chicken nuggets. Wendy’s, which has a reputation for being vocal — and at times, even sassy — on Twitter, tweeted back with a figure of “18 million.” Wilkerson responded with a confident “consider it done.”

As it turns out, the request went viral.

After Wilkerson unexpectedly racked up about 3.42 million retweets, the company caved and declared him a winner. Now, Wendy’s is honoring Wilkerson’s full year of chicken nuggets, and is even making a $100,000 donation in his name to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

Wilkerson — who now has over 100,000 followers on Twitter — is continuing his cause on his own website, nuggsforcarter.com.

The lesson here is very simple:

Sometimes, it’s okay to have fun with your customers online. Listen to everything that your customers have to say, and keep a sharp eye out for opportunities like this when they arise. Let your customers know that you are paying attention to what they have to say, and pounce on opportunities that will make great human interest pieces.

Here are some of the ways your brand will benefit:

Greater customer loyalty: When current customers read about stories like Wilkerson and his free year of chicken nuggets, it fosters their feelings of pride and brand loyalty. It makes them feel great about doing business with your brand, and encourages them to share the news with others. Stories like this remind customers why they love the brand in the first place.

Increased engagement: What does just about every company brand want today? Increased audience engagement. Some companies are practically begging customers to interact with them more. This type of activity encourages customers to reach out and interact with the company. Ultimately, it generates free marketing.

Thought leadership: By responding to Wilkerson, and granting him a full year of free chicken nuggets, Wendy’s took a leap of faith. And in doing so, they reminded us about the need to keep trying new things in customer service. Wendy’s has proven that its customer service department is responsive and highly in-tune with its customer base. Wendy’s is setting an example for all other fast food chains to follow. And it’s hard to put a price tag on the type of return that this will create for the company.