What are the 4 key attributes of successful customer engagement?
In an era of increased competition and more demanding consumers, engaging with customers is critical to driving a long term, loyal relationship. Engagement moves beyond transactional, potentially cost-based, interactions to build deeper ties between a brand and its customers. This makes companies more successful in two ways. Firstly, happy, engaged customers are likely to remain loyal and potentially spend more. Additionally, they act as brand ambassadors, recommending your products and services to other people, through both word of mouth and social media.
Creating an engaged customer community is, therefore, a key aim for brands and organisations across every sector. However, there are issues that often make engagement difficult. Many companies still operate through a silo-based approach that sees marketing, sales and customer services working independently, rather than collaborating to engage with customers. With more and more ways available for customers to interact, internal resources can be stretched thinly, leading to many companies focusing on particular channels and disengaging from others. So what can organisations do to get closer to customers?
To help, Gartner has identified the four key attributes that drive engagement:
1. Active customer engagement
If companies don’t take the time to actively engage with their customers, then they are missing out on the chance to build stronger relationships. So, the first point is 'be active' – communicate with customers and provide the ability for them to engage with your company through forums, communities and other channels. Ask for feedback and show how you are using it to improve products and services.
2. Emotional customer engagement
When consumers connect with a brand at an emotional level they are more likely to complain less and compliment more. Apple is the perfect example – people around the world feel that it ‘fits’ with their personalities and makes them feel engaged. Building this kind of trust can take time – but it is easily lost, for example, if personal data is misused, sold on or left unprotected.
3. Rational customer engagement
The sales process has been changed completely by the internet. Potential customers can now build up their knowledge of a brand and its products on the web and social media, without needing to get in direct contact until they have made a decision to buy. Gartner argues that companies, therefore, need to provide more information and make it easy for consumers to find answers to their questions, whatever channel they are using. Web self-service software that enables customers to submit queries in their own words is a good way of providing this tailored access to information and increasing engagement.
4.Ethical customer engagement
Today’s consumers are more ethically aware than ever before and demand high standards from companies. Social media and mobile devices provide the means to quickly spread the news of unethical behaviour, meaning that businesses need to publish clear guidelines for how they will act, use robust systems to monitor activities, and stay true to their promises.
Customer engagement is a key challenge for today’s businesses. Studying Gartner’s four attributes and looking at how you can apply them within your business provides the perfect starting point for the journey to deeper engagement and more loyal, profitable customers in the future.