Social Media Web has led to a fundamental shift in the way businesses engage with their customers. They’re using social technologies to form meaningful, ongoing relationships that involve frequent online interactions, oftentimes through social channels.
The truth is: Companies that engage with their customers via social media have more loyal customers. BETTER YET, it turns that customers who engage with a brand online are spending 20% to 40% more on that brand.
You need to expand your concept of “customer service.” It’s no longer an isolated section of your business model but part of a larger, customer engagement strategy. In order to build loyal relationships that extend and last, you need to understand the basic principles of the new definition of customer engagement and put them into action.
1. Full spectrum of experiences.
Customer engagement, it’s an ongoing dialogue. The peer-to-peer relationships are core to the social Web. Because of course, your customers won’t just be interacting with you, they’ll talk amongst themselves, sharing their perspectives across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and even YouTube. Your job isn’t just to sell your product, it’s also to facilitate an active, passionate online community around your product.
When you engage your customers, have a goal in mind, whether it’s improving your product or nurturing loyalty and increasing sales. Nurturing an ongoing and genuine relationship with your customers will naturally make a major impact in both these arenas.
Naturally, how you engage with your customers impacts how customers view your brand. 70% of People are willing to spend an average of 13% more with companies who they feel provide above-par customer service. That means that all your customer engagement efforts should lead clearly in the direction of resolution. Know what the outcome should be, and provide your customers with clear tools (as EYE) that make it easy and efficient for them to get what they need.
3. Anytime, anywhere.
TODAY we’re living in an “always-on” world ruled by the mobile experience. In 2011, customers were using mobile apps 10 times a day and a growing number of customers have used an app to buy a product. But here’s the big news: an astounding 78% used mobile apps for customer service purposes. In other words, if you’re not engaging your customers on-the-go—in the context of their daily lives—you’re essentially neglecting them, or are at least missing an opportunity to nurture the relationship through an open, honest interaction.
You want to be able to interact with your customers in the context of their daily lives. Not only are you able to provide them with better, more immediate service, but you also gain loyalty and stay in the forefront of their minds. When the time comes to make a purchase, they’ll choose the product they’ve come to trust through a series of positive experiences.
4. Mutually beneficial.
The new customer engagement strategy should feel less like a marketing and sales campaign, contest, or tool, and more like a well-developed friendship founded on the basis of interdependent needs and mutual respect. The feedback you get from your customers isn’t just important for you, it’s important for them, as well. If you can listen to what your customers are saying and improve the product and their experience, everybody wins. You get more loyal customers; they get what they really need and want.
The relationship you build is a two-way street. On one hand, your customers feel heard, and they can see the ways they’re actually contributing to your company. At the same time, you get free feedback, and have the opportunity to improve your business, thereby by attracting more customers.
Your customers decide if and when to communicate. Your job is simply to give them the tools that make the interaction and communication easy and natural. Not only should these tools be easily accessible and highly visible, but they should also offer options for different types of conversation. Do they have a question? Do they want to post a rave review? Are they experiencing a technical difficulty? Present your customers with an intuitive tool for communicating with you, and let them initiate.
When you put control in their hands, you’re more likely to be able to meet their needs, but you also win their trust, and ultimately, you build the loyal customer base you need to grow and succeed.
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