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The One Thing They Do Not Tell You About Customer Engagement
  • 29 August 2017
  • Eric Michaels

The One Thing They Do Not Tell You About Customer Engagement

Small business owners know that customers should come first. But what happens when complications arise and you are not able to immediately satisfy customer expectations? Nowadays, consumers have more ways than ever before to publicize problems with your company, which means a small problem can escalate on a national (or even international) scale overnight. What is more, damage control can be costly, and you may not have the resources to patch up your reputation.

This is why it is important to proactively build relationships through customer engagement. You may already win at customer service, but customer engagement is different from customer service. Engagement can give you an added boost by encouraging a productive conversation between you and your clients, even when things do not go as planned. Ideally, engagement with your clientele will inspire brand loyalty and motivate your customers to be mouthpieces for your products and services.

Customer-first strategy and customer engagement

A customer-first strategy is never easy to pull off. Giant brands like Amazon and Google succeed on this front by being available and useful to consumers. In the case of Amazon, the company made a concerted effort to please customers after every transaction. Anyone who contacts Amazon customer service usually walks away satisfied and rates it high in terms of this service, according to Forbes. For Google, the company's core products are so user-friendly that the brand seems to be functioning everywhere at once.

While these strategies are a good start, engagement needs to go a step further. Take Apple, for example. The company's products, combined with its marketing campaigns and decades-long branding efforts, created a following of customers that are constantly connected, receiving the latest news updates and advice through their Apple's products. This level of success is partly due to the brand building a cohesive narrative that revolves around and rewards consumer behavior, which drives customer loyalty and growth, as AdAge describes. When considering how best to engage with your own customers, think about how your products and services can offer continual perks for your clients and how your customers fit into your brand story.

Examples of winning brands

While Apple has had a long time to grow and establish itself as a leader in engagement, smaller businesses have also managed to achieve success in winning a loyal customer base. An example of a younger company is JetBlue, the airline that launched in 2000. Early on, the company represented a low-cost alternative to larger carriers. As time passed, JetBlue managed to keep winning back fliers with personal touches as air travel became more impersonal. Its Twitter feed, which constantly responds to customer complaints, showcases the brand's popularity and is emblematic of why the brand is successful.

Seamless, the restaurant delivery service, is another company that has mastered engagement in recent years. While delivery orders can be a tricky game, Seamless serves as the intermediary between hungry customers and busy restaurant employees. Their customer service team reinforces this branding with a lighthearted touch. They let their customers track orders and can connect them to the restaurant instantly. People enjoy the convenience, and Seamless does a good job keeping customers engaged through their app.

Your company's best bet

While you may not be the next Apple (yet), any small business can engage customers. Humor is a good policy, but cleverness works just as well. When posting on social media accounts, pay attention to the type of posts that have the most direct engagement, such as visuals or surveys. But the best overall strategy is delivering a great product or service. If you have a winning product that keeps customers coming back for more, you can expand upon it by continuing to talk to your clients and ask what it is they would like to see next. Constant communication is vital.

Customer service is a good, necessary first step, but customer engagement will help you grow your business in new, exciting ways. Once you and your customers start to hit it off, they will spread the word to others and inspire you to develop innovative products that enhance the conversation.

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