There are numerous references available for what Customer Engagement is and why it is important. Most of it refers to and is centered on building brand loyalty and customer retention. Ensuring the customer continues to purchase your services over others and promotes your product over other available options. Successful engagement involves understanding the needs of your customer base, targets routine interaction and monitoring feedback. The effort involved to obtain this includes an important aspect of customer interaction referred to as the Customer Experience.
Customer experience touchpoints occur in multiple forms of the journey and involves multiple people within an organization.
- Phone Calls – initial contacts, support interactions, status calls and follow up.
- Email – service activity, information exchange, product bulletins and announcements.
- Online Portals – service requests, knowledge base articles, and product inquiries.
- Social Media – company news, marketing and product announcements.
- Surveys – service and customer feedback.
Touchpoints provide the opportunity to set an expectation, monitor the successes and failures of meeting those expectations and identifying areas for improvement. Providing the best experience possibly is always the target. Learning what works for a situation and how to improve on it is the goal. As listening and understanding of your customer needs is fundamental to customer satisfaction.
Many people think of customer service as the main driver of the customer experience. This group is often the focused point of contact and targets a specific set of scenarios. They have a specific job to ensure customers obtain answers to their issues and strive to maximize customer satisfaction. A good customer servicer team is a key contributor, but it is only one aspect of the customer experience. Sales, marketing, administration, development and professional services all contribute directly or indirectly to the overall customer experience.
A positive customer experience is a powerful way of differentiating your business from its competitors. It creates strong and resilient relationships that can ensure continued success for a product or company over time. Statistics show that customers will make purchase decisions, pay more and forgive mistakes when they have a history of a great customer experience with someone. These can be referenced as the dividends of investing and promoting this type of environment.
Follow these key steps to start, improve, or maintain your customer experience strategy.
- Identify customer personas – define the traits of your target customers, attributes, motivations, needs, and pain points. Work to understand what they think, feel, say and do.
- Identify key components – what actions, needs and decisions your customers go through. This can be referred to as the who, what and why references.
- Identify your goals – what is it you want your customers to think and feel. Think of this part as walking in someone else’s shoes.
The result of this customer journey exercise is to identify areas which “we believe this action, will solve customer needs, enabled by our product, resulting in improved attitudes” toward our company.
There are customer engagement tools and resources available online to help get you started and to monitor your progress. Just remember to always look back, re-evaluate, and refine your customer engagement approach. What works today may not always work moving forward.
– Steven Place – Vice President, Support Services and Client Support