Customer engagement strategy? Or outdated marketing plan based on figures and historic patterns? Believe it or not there are still many business leaders out there who sit in their offices and ponder the best ways to launch a new product, develop a new marketing campaign or sign up new business without acknowledging the one most important factor in all of these plans; the customer.
The rapid explosion of digital technology means that your customer can rate or decimate your reputation in seconds. Customers have, in their hands at all times, access to you, your products, your reviews and their own relationship history with you. Customers want, and expect, immediate solutions, prompt resolutions and educational and/or entertaining content. Customers want relationships.
Forward thinking market leaders now recognise that customer engagement is key to maximising profit and are already placing greater emphasis on driving customer value, loyalty and retention.
If you’re not of the view that customer experience is destined to overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator in the future, you are now in the minority.
The customer of today is more informed and more in control of the experience they receive. Customers expect businesses to know their individual needs and preferences and often expect their experience to be customised for them.
Statistics now saturate most B2B marketing reports and social media platforms such as LinkedIn and the message is usually the same:
Loyal customers are 5 x as likely to repurchase, 5 x as likely to forgive, 7 x as likely to try a new offering, and 4 x as likely to refer. (Temkin Group)
The customer of today expects more than polite, friendly service. They want to feel valued, to be listened to and to feel that they matter to you. If you treat your customers with that criteria in mind you will win a lifetime supporter whose value could be worth more than a new customer.
So instead of simply focusing on expanding your customer database, there are three simple things you can do to improve your profits immediately:
- Develop strategies to retain your existing customer database
- Improve your customer engagement
- Maximise your customer lifetime value
1. Develop Strategies To Retain Your Existing Customer Database
A repeat customer spends 67% more than a new one (BIA/Kelsey).
What are you doing to retain your existing customers?
- Are you updating them on new products or services?
- Do you offer incentives to draw them back?
- Do you invite them to stay in touch and perhaps share their experience with others?
- Do you offer competitions or draws to make them feel valued?
- Do you create opportunities to ask for their feedback and views?
There are pages of statistics devoted to showing the worth of the repeat customer and the pattern is clear for obvious reasons. If a customer already has a relationship with you and likes what you offer, they will return, unless you give them a reason NOT to.
2. Improve Your Customer Engagement
Engaging with your customer is much more than a simple ‘hello’ as they enter your premises or site. Customers want to feel loved and appreciated. They need to feel that if there is a problem, it will be handled confidently.
- How often do you engage with your customer? If it is only during your transaction you are not really engaging your customer.
- Do you stay in their minds by keeping in contact with them?
- Do you have a weekly or monthly newsletter?
- Do you have seasonal events or occasions to invite them back?
- Is every member of your team aware of the need to make your customer feel special? It’s a culture. Spread the intent throughout the whole team.
3. Maximise Your Customer Lifetime Value
My father only ever owned a Ford. He loved the cars and said he always received great service. His local dealer knew him, addressed him by name and always had his favorite paper in the waiting room when he took his car for a service. He was a lifetime customer and no amount of persuading would encourage him to defect.
- Reward your longstanding customers.
- Pay attention to the little things; that’s what makes your customer feel special.
- Be honest and transparent at all times.
- Effective customer engagement calls for a thorough understanding of the customer. Make sure you KNOW that your customer is a wheelchair user or works abroad.
Forward thinking businesses go to great lengths to identify their ‘typical’ customer and then attempt to create deeper parallels by matching social and ethical preferences. For example, businesses that advertise charitable work or sustainable or eco-friendly ethics publicise these values and attract like-minded customers.
Customer lifetime value is one of the most important metrics in your business toolbox.
In this age of the empowered customer, businesses must look forward to develop better customer engagement strategies. Being reactive does not work in the arena of customer relationships; it’s about being proactive, about noticing and predicting your customer intelligence and using big data to provide customer mapping. It’s about being sure your customer journey is great – in every regard and at all times.
“It’s very critical that we are honest and provide value every single day to our customers, because otherwise they won’t renew. It’s a culture of taking care of your customers, not just once a year or once a quarter when you need to sell and make your number, but increasing value to our customers throughout the entire year.” —Gabriel Szulik, Red Hat
The expectations of the 21st century customer are complex and multi-faceted. Competition is fierce and digital platforms flood your customer’s inbox or newsfeed with attractive offers every second. And yet the answer to a healthier bottom line is so simple. Love your customer. Your customer engagement strategy should be front, back and middle of any business strategy if you are to grow and create solid foundations for future profits. And the mantra again…….LOVE YOUR CUSTOMER!