5 Things Companies Must Do to Stay Engaged with Customers


They used to call it customer engagement, but now they should call it customer entanglement, because companies are more involved in their customers' lives than ever.

Today, marketers are staying engaged indefinitely and as seamlessly as possible to keep their customers in the loop. Through social media, direct mail, online advertising, public relations, mobile apps and other channels, companies establish and maintain lifelong relationships with their customers---and are reaping big rewards.

To keep the relationship going strong, businesses of all sizes need to think differently or be left behind. Here are five deliverables that must always be in the mind of any business that wants to attract customers.

Let’s Devise a Plan

Simply periodically jumping in and out when it comes to your customer engagement efforts won't work anymore. You need a well-designed strategy and a definitive plan, and to stick to it.

Every time you engage with your customers, have a clear goal in mind, whether it's improving your product or adding benefits customers will want. Sixty-eight percent of Americans are willing to spend 13% more with companies providing superior customer service, according to Inc.com. This means all of your customer engagement endeavors must lead directly to some type of offer, decision or action, backed by a strategic approach.

Let’s Embrace More and More Mobility

More people use their personal devices to buy products and services online. Nearly 70% of all adults in the U.S. have a smartphone, and tablet computer ownership has edged up to 45%, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. If you are not engaging with your customers via their cell phones or tablets on a semi-regular basis, you're still in medieval times.

Let’s Listen More Closely

Developing effective tools to promote customer engagement is no longer simply a one-time thing, or something a company does quarterly or even monthly. Now you have to be in your customers' minds all the time.

To achieve this, marketers have researched and engaged with what their customers are doing, to stay ahead of trends and effectively identify fads, as well as to ride the former and discard the latter until the buzz begins to die down.

Companies always covet peer-to-peer, one-on-one relationships. People love to share personal stories about products and services they like, and that's the sweet spot every marketer wants to tap into.

By learning as much as you can through online reviews and social media, you can learn your customers' habits quickly and respond promptly. Adapt or perish is the motto when it comes to customer engagement, and listening carefully is a vital part of that.

Let’s Develop 2-Way Relationships

If you truly want to stay engaged with your clients in an effective manner, treat them more like good friends instead of customers. Too many companies milk their customers dry with a different offer every other day. That’s overkill and you won’t won’t remain friends if you do it on a continual basis.

Your overall strategy shouldn't be all about selling them something aggressively, but rather more about developing good friendships with your client base.

To this end, value all feedback you receive from your customers and share it with your team. If you're listening to what your clients are saying about you, you can respond quickly and improve your products, services or processes if needed.

Pivoting is not just for Stephen Curry of the NBA---companies must be ready to do it on the drop of a dime.

Let’s Make it Easily Accessible and Visible

There's a whole big world out there when it comes to all of the different approaches to stay engaged---and entangled---with your customers for the long run.

In-product messaging, email, mobile, social media and customer care/support are the five leading ways companies can consistently achieve top-tier results. The ones that truly excel at it have figured out how to do it all well.

The role of any smart marketer is to provide its customers with the correct tools to enable easy and natural communication. You should always be easily available and visible, but you should also offer options for varied types of interactions.

If you can offer your clients an intuitive tool, rather than just a platform for communicating with you, they will take the reins and do the rest themselves.

Ed Attanasio

Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist and Autobody News columnist based in San Francisco.

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