The increase in awareness in today’s world means customers have come to expect more from businesses. The spread of the internet has brought about another major change in the business scenario—you’re no longer competing with companies offering similar products or services. Rather, the competition is now with every business interaction your customers have, as noted by Dan Gingiss, customer experience expert, keynote speaker, author, and podcaster.
That means that along with excelling in terms of product/service quality, you also need to ensure that every interaction or experience your customers have with your business sets a new standard. That’s where the need for a customer engagement plan comes into the picture.
What is customer engagement and why is it important?
Customer engagement is the process of proactively or reactively nurturing and guiding your prospects and customers throughout the customer lifecycle using different channels, all while consistently ensuring a positive customer experience.
Customer engagement or user engagement is critical to business sustenance as today’s economy is customer-centered, and customers are very vocal about the experience they have with businesses. People trust the reviews of their friends and family, influencers, and industry experts. Especially in a world where negative publicity spreads faster than positive, your customer engagement plan can literally make or break your business.
The right customer engagement plan, when executed well, will not only help you retain existing customers, giving you more revenue at a lower cost but will also give you new customers at no additional effort through word of mouth. In addition, customer engagement throughout the customer journey will give you valuable up-to-date insight into what your prospects and customers feel about your brand, product/service, and what more they need in a product/service like yours so you can continuously improve it. Engaged customers proactively try to stay updated on the product or brand, so you don’t have to redundantly throw the same updates at them in hopes of catching their attention.
What is a customer engagement plan?
Now that we know what customer engagement is and its importance in today's business scenario, let's look at what a customer engagement plan is.
A customer engagement plan outlines strategies and tactics to create meaningful interactions and relationships between a company and its customers. It involves rightly timed interactions with customers to capture their attention, keep them interested in your brand, and ensure they have the best possible experience. The goal of customer engagement planning is to enhance customer loyalty, satisfaction, and overall brand perception.
What are the key elements of a solid customer engagement strategy template?
Before venturing out to build a customer engagement plan, it’s imperative to know the essential elements of a successful one. They are:
Value addition at each interaction
Alignment with your brand values
Multiple, easily accessible communication channels
Clearly defined and measurable KPIs
How to build an effective customer engagement strategy
There’s no one perfect customer engagement strategy template that you can duplicate. What works amazingly for one business need not work for another. You can only approach customer engagement planning with the idea of giving your customers the best possible experience every time and fixing gaps between their expectations and experience.
Here’s a step-by-step approach to build a customer engagement strategy that works for you and your customers:
Step 1: Understand your customers and their demographics, buying habits, preferences, and typical spending, as well as how they’re interacting with your brand.
Step 2: Check if you’re meeting their needs and expectations at every point of contact.
Step 3: Understand their sentiments towards your brand and what it stands for.
Step 4: Project the right brand image to your audience throughout your user engagement plan and establish a genuine connection.
Step 5: Ensure consistency between your brand identity, value proposition, and customer experience.
Step 6: Develop a content strategy that provides valuable and relevant information to your prospects and customers. This can include blog posts, videos, webinars, and other resources that address their pain points and interests.
Step 7: Always keep the line of communication between your business and prospects/customers open and consistent across channels and devices.
Step 8: Showcase the human and moral side of your brand as customers favor brands whose values align with their own.
Step 9: Make your customer onboarding intuitive and interesting.
Step 10: Regularly scan for and remove existing or potential bottlenecks in the customer journey.
Step 11: Proactively reach out for feedback from your quiet customers, as not all customers vocalize their concerns or problems with your products/services. Most simply churn.
Step 12: Regularly monitor the talk on social media about your brand, leverage the positives, and control the damage done by negative news/reviews.
Step 13: Improve communication and data sharing between your internal teams so they all have a 360-degree view of the customer, your customers get a consistent experience, and to ensure the success of your customer engagement plan.
Step 14: Ensure all your employees believe in your brand’s vision and mission and are enthused about your business.
Step 15: Measure your results and iterate your user engagement plan regularly.
Top 3 customer engagement strategies
Let's take a look at some top customer engagement strategies that are sure to work.
1. Share your story
Create some intrigue and develop a deeper connection in your customers' minds by sharing your business's/product's story in a memorable and relatable way. Help customers understand why you built your product/service and how you reached where you are. If it resonates with them, they'll join you the rest of the way.
2. Encourage customers to share ideas
Give customers a platform to voice their ideas/suggestions to improve your product/service. Encourage your customers to participate by announcing the ones you implement and giving a shout-out to customers who suggested these changes. When customers play a part in improving your offering and get recognition, they'll be more invested in your brand, leading to customer loyalty and advocacy.
3. Gamify your customer onboarding/product tour
This user engagement strategy works particularly well if you have an online product/service. Make your customers' first encounter with your product a fun and rewarding experience. This can be in the form of unlocked additional features, badges, or freebies. Gamifying the onboarding process works because it incentivizes users to go through the key phase of the customer lifecycle where they understand the value of your product. You can also use this for your user community building. If community building is something you need some pointers on, check out our free webinar recording on nurturing a community and how they can improve your business.
Convert your customer engagement plan into action with Zoho SalesIQ
All your customer engagement planning is of no use if you can’t implement it effectively. Now that we’ve run you through how to create an effective customer engagement plan, it’s time to introduce an accomplice for your customer engagement journey—Zoho SalesIQ, a complete customer engagement platform.
Here’s how SalesIQ can help you execute your customer engagement plan:
Gives you a list of all your website and mobile app visitors sorted by criteria like location, actions, and time spent on your site.
Categorizes your visitors as leads and contacts based on the availability of their email addresses, and further organizes B2B contacts based on their company.
Helps prioritize your most valuable leads with rule-based automatic lead scoring.
Facilitates proactive lead and customer engagement with proactive chat invites.
Helps you deliver consistent customer experience regardless of when they contact you via website live chat with translation, audio calling and screen sharing, mobile SDK, or IM channels like Whatsapp, Telegram, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and LINE.
Automates a major part of your customer engagement plan with the AI and codeless chatbot builder.
Connects customers with the right agents via smart chat routing.
Provides you a 360-degree view of the customer, including their support tickets, purchase and interaction history, stage in the customer lifecycle, previous interactions with your customer-facing teams, and more.
Alerts you when high-value customers visit you.
Aids customer re-engagement with push notifications.
Helps you collect regular customer feedback on their interactions with you.
Gives you all the metrics and insights needed to improve your customer engagement strategy template.
Switch from business transactions to continuous customer engagement
Customers have the power to decide the fate of your business, and if customers like you, they’ll do business with you. So, get started with your customer engagement plan and run it with Zoho SalesIQ to form better customer relationships.
Do you have any other ideas, best practices, strategies that have helped you with your customer engagement planning? Let us know in the comments below.