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3 Key Rules of Customer Engagement

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And, Warner observes, companies are not only competing with other companies for their customers’ attention, but they are competing with other aspects of each individual’s life. If someone is browsing Facebook and sees a tailored marketing message with a coupon, he might be in the middle of a chat with a friend about setting up a coffee date for later this week and could easily neglect to pay attention to it.

It’s challenging to keep a person’s attention. Still, like it or not, companies are forced to keep up with these unpredictable affinities to meet the demands of customers, and they must do it in a way that scales.

In such a confusing climate, industry experts stress the importance of getting creative with technologies and strategies that enable efficient two-way dialogues in sales, marketing, and service, and serve to create value for both customers and companies.

1. MASTER CONTEXT AND RELEVANCE

According to experts, two essential components of customer engagement are context and relevance. It’s important to show customers that you value them and their business, by indicating that you know who they are and that you respect their time enough to provide them with something that applies to them as an individual.

Some questions ought to be considered. Who is the person you are reaching at a particular moment, and where is she (mentally, physically, or otherwise) when she comes in contact with you? If you are trying to sell her a new product, how do you know you’re not wasting her time by explaining concepts she’s already discussed with another salesperson on your team? In service interactions, how does a company avoid making customers repeat information they’ve already relayed to someone, thus helping them quickly accomplish the task they’ve set out to complete?

Central to such efforts is customer data. The right information must be collected properly, processed, and used to uncover insights that inform a suitable course of action.

“Expectations play a big role in what data you should be looking at,” pointed out Patrick Russell, product marketing manager at InContact, during the 2016 CRM magazine web event “Customer Engagement Strategies that Keep Customers Connected.”

This has certainly been a consideration for WGBH Boston, a public television station responsible for prime-time PBS programming that relies on contributions from donors. The station broadcasts such popular shows as Downton Abbey and American Experience, yet is still in danger of being replaced by emerging media outlets. The company has worked to collect better data and engage its fan base on social media, according to George Corugedo, CTO and cofounder of RedPoint Global, a technology vendor that assisted WGBH in its efforts. The broadcaster picked up on the tendency of its younger viewers to use second screens and tweet out their reactions to a new episode of their favorite show during the hour it aired. By collecting data from the tweets, the company could link Twitter accounts to other contact information and data, which helped it better target the audiences with personalized appeals for donations based on their interests. The broadcaster can send them messages that are more relevant, with Downton Abbey–themed requests, for instance.

2. MOVE BEYOND TRADITIONAL CAMPAIGNS

As people become more technologically savvy and get used to having information available at their fingertips, they become very impatient with information that is not relevant or helpful to them, which makes them “advertising averse,” Warner said.

During a daily subway commute in New York, London, or any other major city, a passenger is exposed to hundreds, if not thousands, of different ads. “We know, in London, if you commute for 45 minutes on the public transportation system, you’re exposed to 130 to 150 different products in 80 to 100 different advertising messages,” the London-based Warner said. “We know that by the end of the day we’re exposed to between 3,500 and 4,000 different messages. It’s impossible for the human brain to take all of that in, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that if we can avoid irrelevant content with a swipe of the finger or click of the mouse, that’s what we’re going to do if our information is coming to us via our digital channel.”

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