Top Tech Tools for Optimizing Customer Engagement
Guest post by Sara, The Digital Diva. Sara is an experienced tech expert who established her first blog, Ms. Digital Diva last year to share her passion with others around the web. After 15 years in the industry, her goal is to bring information on all technology to the masses. Her philosophy is to create each article so that anyone can understand the content, whether they are a consumer or technology expert.
Today’s consumers have a unique position in today’s marketplace. They’ve made it clear their interest in a brand comes not simply from the products or services they offer, but also from the personal connection built with the brand. Gone are the days where companies can remain successful with a simple editorial ad and a quality offering. To win over today’s consumers, companies must actually engage their prospects and customers outside the office walls. Fortunately, with these new demands also come with great rewards. According to customer experience advocate and software company CEO Mark Hurd, “86 percent of today’s consumers are willing to spend more on a better customer experience.” Technology is playing a big role in this transition and adopting new trends can make a world of difference when it comes down to optimizing your engagement.
We’ve broken down what it means to engage customers in 2018 and how technology can help you do it.
Customer Experience vs. Customer Engagement
To the untrained eye, these terms may appear to be one in the same when in reality they’re quite different. Though equally important, the method and results of each can have drastically varying impacts on the success of your business. To truly optimize your engagement, you must start with a clear understanding of what exactly each phrase means and how one affects the other.
Boiled down, customer experience is defined as how customers perceive their interactions with your company. This is much more of a transactional process as a customer must have an actual interaction with your brand to form their experiential opinion. Whether that be top quality in-store service or speedy delivery for eCommerce purchases, how the physical experience plays out will determine a positive or poor customer experience.
Customer engagement allows for much more flexibility, as it is ultimately the depth of the relationship a consumer has with a brand. You have complete control of the level of engagement you choose to put forward to a customer, and the verticals to do that through are constantly expanding. Utilizing best practices of engagement for your specific customer base can, in turn, improve the experience your customers have, as positive engagement generally results in increased interaction and conversion.
Now, let’s dive deeper into the tools you can use to fully optimize your customer engagement.
As we discussed earlier, customers are looking for personalization and brand connections. At first glance, this may seem like a burden and more work for your team, but with the proper prep-work, that doesn’t have to be the case.
Big Data, Machine Learning, & Predictive Analytics
Understanding your market is crucial in any and all business efforts, especially customer engagement. To best reach target audiences, marketers need to know what consumers are thinking, feeling, and saying about their brand, and through what channels.
Machine Learning, Predictive analytics and AI technology can help you get a handle on this information and organize the data into categorized segments. Once you know who your customers are and which channels they’re favoring, you can adapt to match. This information is crucial in setting yourself up to place the right message in front of the right people at the right time.
Internet of Things
Better customer engagement at its core is about better understanding your audience and building upon the individual relationships with each interaction. The Internet of Things (IoT) plays a major role in this process as its key purpose is to utilize data to make stronger connections between consumer and product. In fact, enterprises are most often using data generated from IoT solutions to improve customer experiences.
This all, once again, comes down to greater personalization. Take for instance the Amazon Alexa. Smart home assistants like this can let you know when you’re running low on household items, and not only order them for you, but let you know when they’re on sale. This sort of interaction contributes to an ongoing connection with the Amazon brand which is invaluable.
Another rapidly growing trend in customer engagement is making the most of social media. Between SnapChat, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, the average consumer is active on at least one platform every day. Particularly with the Millennial audience, social media can be an excellent way to engage your customers both individually and widespread. The key here is to always try and make your audience feel valued.
Something as simple as a response to a Tweet directed at your brand shows consumers you’re not just a faceless company, but real people who care about what their customers have to say. Finding opportunities to engage customers this way starts with utilizing your own social media followers. Enable them to offer suggestions for improvements, or acknowledge humorous mentions of your brand. Whatever your process is, just find a way to communicate your commitment to customer service and the results will follow. A robust social listening tool like NUVI can make the process of sifting through thousands or even millions of mention much easier while simultaneously depicting your data in easy-to-read visualizations.
If it seems like we’ve covered a lot here, it’s because we did. When it comes to customer engagement, there is no one size fits all. Some things work better for one brand and not so much for another, it all comes down to the preferences of your target audience. Seems simple enough, but actually this is where so many companies miss the mark.
According to a study by Marketo, brands tend to have significantly more optimistic views on just how effective their efforts are than the actual consumers experiencing them. While 82 percent of marketers believe they have a deep understanding of their customers’ desires, 42 percent of B2C consumers say brands/vendors could do better-aligning engagement activities with their needs. Considering the major loss you could potentially face from not meeting your customers’ engagement needs, this should serve as a reminder to always be self-testing.
When you look at the big picture of effective customer engagement, the reward so greatly outweighs the work. Unlike traditional advertising, engagement allows you to tell your company story and relate to consumers on a personal level, which your loyal customers will want to share. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that in today’s technology-saturated world, people share everything, and that includes their opinions on your brand. So make sure that opinion is a positive one, because once you’ve earned that loyalty, you’ll learn nothing converts a prospect to a customer like a current customer’s recommendation.