Social media and mobile technologies have shifted the balance of power to your customers. They can find the information that they need in seconds and from virtually any location. They have more access to reviews written by actual users of your product or service, they talk online about any negative interactions with your company, and they can instantly compare your brand with your competition's offerings. Marketers have therefore been forced to rethink what true customer engagement is in an era in which the customer is always connected.
Customer engagement can take a variety of forms, and companies that want to thrive are mastering all of the different aspects of building an engaging relationship with their customers. It may be an emailed order confirmation with tracking information, a coupon pushed to a customer's cell phone when the customer is within range of a beacon, or a text notifying customers when there is a sale on items they tend to purchase. Through consistent, relevant communications, companies are building bridges with their customers in new ways and through new technologies.
Engaging your customers is not a one-time thing. It requires ongoing effort and thoughtful planning if you want to keep your company foremost in their minds. Here are some examples of ways that real businesses have taken customer engagement to new levels.
The Fun Factor
Successfully engaging customers means realizing that customers come first. Satisfying the desires of the customer has to be your priority. One organization that illustrates this principle is the public transportation system, Societe de Transport de Montreal (STM), which deployed a mobile app to help make traveling by train and bus more interesting. The app uses geolocation to give customers promotional materials that are relevant to their current location, such as a sale at a favorite store near their stop or a discount at a nearby restaurant. Public ridership has increased, and users of the app can look forward to fun, engaging experiences.
Leveraging Social Media
Marketers tend to think of social media as little more than a platform that facilitates brand messaging and promotional events. However, the data collected from social media can provide a wealth of analytics. For example, Lenovo, a leader in the computer industry, has mined the data collected from social media to identify new trends before their competitors. By listening to online conversations, Lenovo has been able to reduce the amount of guesswork that goes into product development, such as the laptop colors that consumers prefer. Due to Lenovo’s extensive data mining on social media, customers receive product offerings that are more relevant and useful, and the company can reduce its development risks.
Anticipate Customers' Needs and Act on Them
Concrete and cement providers have little to differentiate them. The products may be essential, but there are no well-defined differences in the products sold by various suppliers. Customer service is therefore the primary differentiator. Because both products must arrive at the job site within a narrow window, the timing of deliveries is crucial. CEMEX Inc. anticipated that customers would welcome a way to track their deliveries. The first step was a CRM system that gave CEMEX employees access to live video feeds so they could determine the delivery status and relay the information to customers. The next step was to develop a mobile app that gave customers the ability to monitor deliveries without the need to contact the company.
Simplify to Satisfy
The Australian and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ) started with the belief that people have better things to do than spend their time handling their banking transactions. ANZ choose to focus on simplifying their customers' online experience. For example, ANZ's mobile app lets customers pay bills,check balances or transfer funds with ease. The data collected through the app has allowed ANZ to gather new insights into streamlining the experience based on customers' behavior and offer assistance, such as suggesting an alternative to a transaction that is requiring additional interactions from the customer.
Leverage Customer Feedback
There are still companies that shy away from customer feedback and are especially fearful of addressing negative feedback. However, after Ellen Brasse launched a grocery shopping app for a Swiss grocer, she actively pursued feedback, knowing that the feedback could help refine the app to better address the needs of customers. After analyzing extensive surveys,Brasse discovered that it was not the customers who had never experienced a program that were the most loyal — it was those who had had their complaints resolved. Taking the proper steps to address negative feedback can turn dissatisfied customers into your company's most vocal brand advocates.
An effective customer-engagement strategy can help your company achieve its goals. Mining social and mobile technologies can help you discover hidden correlations and new ways to use the data. Since you cannot afford to ignore the impact that social media and mobile devices can have on your company's profitability, it only makes sense to harness the data provided by them to further your goals.