...and still counting
I am indebted to those experts who took the time to contribute their excellent insight to help improve my previous posts, 34 Secrets of Better Customer Engagement. I'm sure that we're not yet done, so if you have any other brilliant customer engagement resources then do let me know.
Here goes with a re-run of the original post, with the new secrets added to the end..... 35 onwards....
Sales make the world go round; no sales = no business = no income.
Sales happen when customers engage with your brand and product. Successful companies have lots of engaged customers who also spread the word and that makes your company even more successful.
If you want to know what customer engagement is, its a little tricky to get a clear or concise definition, so this is mine: Customer engagement is where the customer chooses to start, engage and continue a business relationship for a period with a company or a brand.
Getting customer engagement right can be worth a lot of money to your business; get it wrong and you’ll be wasting lots of money. In exchange for your email address you can download Medallia’s collection of customer experience management best practices to find out the latest industry insights for achieving extraordinary customer satisfaction results while increasing revenue.
Experian on the other hand asks, in its report, if customer engagement is the new CRM. In his article, The Changing Landscape of Customer Service and Engagement, John Cameron, looks at the growing body of evidence proving the link between customer service and engagement and business performance
Only 6% of companies are classed as super successful but what is it that makes them so much more successful? It’s their ability to first engage customers and then to keep them engaged so they buy more and recommend you more.
We started at 34 secrets to improving customer engagement. This post was designed to be dynamic and sure enough I've continued to add great content so we're now at 41.
Let's Start the List & Links
- Does your brand say what you want it to say to your customers? Do you know what customers think of you? How do people perceive your brand ? Check out Michael Locke’s article which explores this aspect. A neat trick is to ask the next 10 customers to describe your brand as a car or a shop. It’s a quick and easy way to take a dip test of customer sentiment and feeling. Now you have the answers, does your brand say the right things about you?
- Mission Vision and Values (MVVs) are pretty old hat these days. Progressive companies now have innovative, creative and concise brand manifestos. Jennifer Rice details how to write a brand manifesto in her blog. If you need inspiration Chris Getman has 17 manifestos to inspire you. Now is it time to write yours?
- Do your customers advertise you and your brand? Why do people wear branded clothing The Economist’s view is the label is more important than the clothes! So we want to display the label, hence the rise in fakes, and to show everyone that we love your brand. All in all your own team of unpaid advertisers; pretty cool.
- Kim Durant’s piece for smallbusiness.chron.com looks at why do customers buy the same brand, be that perfume, a car or a chocolate bar, again and again? Customers love consistency – the same product and the same experience every time. How consistent is your execution?
- Are your customers advocates; are they your unpaid sales force? If they are, you are onto a winner. People recommend brands when they have a good experience, but are they more likely to moan about a bad experience first; make sure you are in the recommend and not the moan category.
- What do your products say about your company; high end, cutting edge, run of the mill, serviceable, unique or boring? None are wrong unless you are trying to sell your product to the wrong target market! First the product has to be fit for purpose, and do what it is supposed to do, then people must be prepared to pay money for it. Achieving sales traction is key to growth and success.
- Do you make it easy for customers to do business with you? Are you available, reliable, flexible and expert; are you delivering what you say you do?
- Do you know who your competitors are and what are they doing right now to win over your customers? If your competitors are becoming more engaged with your customers than you are, then there is trouble ahead.
- Are you saying the right things, to the right people, at the right time and using the right channel to get your message clearly heard? Or have you lost control of the message? Remember Gerald Ratner’s review of his own product range?
- Websites and apps are the new shop windows, but are your windows crystal clean or a bit murky? The great thing about websites and apps is just how measurable they are. This measurement is the first step to assessing your website engagement factor.
- Newsletters are still popular. Although now they are more frequent, shorter and nearly always on line! But don’t forget the power of the printed newsletter. Whichever format you use you must have engaging content and Constant Contact has a great site on engagement marketing using newsletters.
- Is your mailing list and your customer database for that matter, up to date and accurate? It needs to be if you are going to have any chance of engaging with the right people.
- On-line and social media marketing have grown amazing quickly; everyone is struggling to keep up with what is happening and to make sure that they engage with each one correctly. Trying to engage on every social media platform can be a recipe for disaster.
- Twitter has now earned its stripes in the business world; Twitter engagement has proved itself and is here to stay. There is an art to using social media to engage; lots of etiquette and un-written rules so this Twitter essential guide is a good read, as is Nicky Kreil’s How to Twitter for Business book.
- Facebook’s expansion in the business arena has proved very fruitful for lots of businesses. It has helped small businesses compete with the big boys on a more level (not entirely flat) playing field! Facebook allows all sizes of businesses to engage with customers proactively. But as customers and businesses become more familiar with the power of the online comment it is increasingly important to identify and take complaints out of the on-line world. Whilst its important to engage customers in sharing their reviews it is critical to know how to avoid a bad review and what to do if you get one. Facebook also has broken the old mold for competitions although you need to know the new rules!
- Social media management systems are growing all the time. For example, Hootsuite has its own blog and some great tutorials on how to use their product to improve your own customer engagement. Whichever platforms or tools you use, they all have (or should have) excellent tutorials to help you; they are worth a view you’ll always learn something!
- Business to business engagement tends to gravitate towards Linked In and Google+, both having worked hard to generate internal tools to help their users to engage better. Althought we now say goodbye to Google+
- Did you know that Instagram engagement is 58 times higher per follower than Facebook. Don’t underestimate its marketing potential. Instagram not only showcases your products, it offers a creative way to visually engage with your customers; perhaps a picture or two of your company’s stand at a recent trade exhibition or a behind-the-scenes look of how your products are produced might help your engagement?
- They said moving pictures would never last but they did and in the engagement world moving pictures – videos - have transformed customer engagement. You Tube is the weapon of choice; upload your video content and engage with customers.
- Surveys such as Survey Monkeyand SurveyGizmo continue to connect and engage customers with the brand and allowing you to discover insight easier.
- Rewards and loyalty schemes continue to prove popular especially during the recent recession. Now loyalty cards are going mobile according to CloudZync. Most of us have 4 loyalty/ reward cards in our wallet. Not all schemes are successful but here are 7 loyalty programs that actually add value from the guys at Hubspot.
- Customers increasingly engage before they decide to buy from you. They’ll be checking you out on feedback forums, ranking sites etc, so you need to be prepared. 100′s of contributions are posted to TripAdvisor every minute. But it’s not always a happy result because you also have to deal with the less than satisfied customers. Help is on hand from Simon Wadsworth’s ‘Reputation Matters’ blog which not only looks at reviews it also give a wealth of advice about online reputation management.
- Some people may believe that forcible engagement is the way to go – the dreaded contract – the bane of the B2C market and the essential of the B2B market. Business contracts either fixed period or annually renewable contracts, such as insurance or your overdraft and long term agreements fall into this category. Just remember that at some point a customer has to decide to renew or walk away so make sure that engagement doesn’t just happen at the renewal date! A Datamonitor report indicated that only half of all motor insurance is automatically renewed with the existing provider. A staggering 50% of all business is lost every year.
- It takes a lot more money to acquire a new customer rather than retain an existing one so you’d think that we’d all be focussed on our existing customers – wrong. We seem to be constantly thrilled by securing a new client instead of celebrating the fact that an existing customer wants to buy from us again! Ignore your existing customers at your peril, and your pocket.
- Tools are great but that is all they are, tools; a labour saving device. Mailing services such as Mailchimp, Constant Contact and Infusion Soft take the mundane work away – no more envelopes to stuff – they also offer additional functionality too. Visit their sites to see their own tutorials. Don’t forget the messages and engagement strategy are still down to you!
- What is your brand personality? Every business has one and it comes from you, your standards and the attitudes and habits that your employees have. Employees include outsourcers, freelancers, sub-contractors and partners. If your employees aren’t engaged then you’re in trouble when it comes to trying to engage customers!
- If your people and your customers are on different wavelengths then it’s going to be tough to make sales. In Susannah Scholfield’s book Mind the Gap, she explains the business critical gap analysis between employees and customers. Further details are also available at Dice Matrix Consulting.
- When is an engagement not an engagement? When it’s one sided. Both parties have to be willing to remain engaged at every touch point, the moment of truth, between customer and company.
- Engagements can be fragile – some will break easily, and they can be broken by either side. Too many people think that it is only the customer that can break the relationship; it’s not; you can finish it too and you should do so when the situation is right.
- In the last century, CRM – Customer Relationship Management, was the ‘in thing’, but it failed to deliver the radical results it promised. The reason; most companies expected the tool / program to solve the problem. A clear PICNIC case (Problem In Chair, Not In Computer). Rightly or wrongly CRMs reputation was dented. CRM is a philosophy which may or may not use software / tools or programs as a management framework.
- Some of the 21st century CRM tools include SalesForce, Capsule and OnePageCRM. The new kid on the CRM block who is causing quite a stir is Salesformics.
- In the early days of building a business, any customer will do. But that doesn’t mean that they are a customer you’ll want to keep; you’ll soon need to weed out the bad ones as Mike Michalowicz explains in his very readable book, The Pumpkin Plan.
- Good engagement stems from good communication that is open, honest and transparent. Pimlico Plumbers underpins their customer engagement with excellent communications backed up by great consistent standards; every time. Not only does the plumber take his shoes off at the door and bring a vacuum with him, the bill is as quoted on the website – not the cheapest, but when customers are engaged with the brand then price is not such a sensitive issue.
- Communication must be ongoing; at all points of the process; pre-sale, the sale, post-sale and repeat sales process; ignore any aspect and you’re bound to fall short. Customers detest inconsistent communication especially when you don’t talk to them for ages and then when you do, you are just asking them to pay!
- This one goes with my thanks to Neil Davey, journalist at Sift Media, who pointed out that for engagement to really work, four attributes need to be present: active, emotional, rational and ethical customer engagement. The fully detailed account of these 4 attributes is a great read.
- My great friend Phil Beavan, is a wise accountant (not an old one!) who like me is focused on helping businesses get better. He reminded me that relationships and therefore engagement breaks down quickly when payments go wrong. This excellent small business guide from Xero explains it all.
- Paul Anderson from Corelynx Sales has added another great CRM resource; "rated as one of the most modern and advanced CRM system for small and medium businesses" by CRM Idol. Read the complete review of Converge Enterprise CRM here.
- Gini Dietrich Author of Spin Sucks responded to my request for some help and put me in touch with Adam Toporek and Jeannie Walters who are both experts in customer engagement. So for number 38 in honour of Gini, I'm adding the ability to ask your customers for help. Engage with your customers by asking their opinion - for help - for input. Just ask the question and you'll be amazed at the wealth of insight you can uncover and how much its strengthens your relationship.
- Jeannie Walters is CEO and Chief Customer Experience Investigator at 360Connext prompted me to remember how much the little things matter. She is a big believer in how the small things matter, especially in light of saying the mundane or the unpleasant. Here is Jeannie's piece on little things mattering. Jeannie is always carrying on about what she calls microinteractions - those small moments that matter. Listen to what she said when she spoke about this at TedX Naperville.
- Adam Toporek asks, does engagement result in greater customer retention? This infographic from Customers That Stick shows some of the key components that inspire customers to stick around. Friendly employees, personalized information, and the ability to easily find information or help are key engagement factors that impact customer loyalty.
- Turn the clock back 20 years and 'social media' was rarely uttered. Now its everywhere and by billions of people everyday. Its pat of our everyday life; staying connected, engagement, entertained and informed. The team at Broad Band Search have a great blog The Most Popular Social Networking Sites Many of us would, when asked, correctly put Facebook at the top of the list but for how long.... what are the new trends emerging and which platforms might we see disappear.....?
There is no doubt that the engagement philosophy is here to stay. What’s key is how you engage with your customers and make sure that it’s a long and profitable engagement.
The other side to the engagement coin, is employee engagement, and that blog will be due for launch next month.
The only reason that you have this blog full of brilliant content from a host of other brilliant writers, bloggers and global thought leaders is that Gareth Brown and Brian Dean showed me the power, and pleasure of blogging this way. Thanks @backlinko & @gareth_brown