The customer journey has become both less linear and more complex as customers use an ever-increasing array of digital devices to engage brands across an almost limitless number of touch points. This has huge implications for initiating and maintaining engagement with customers and prospects as they move throughout the buying cycle.
It is important for companies to build a solid foundation of both on-line and off-line customer data, which can then be aggregated into holistic customer profiles. These profiles are essential to enable companies to identify and reach the right customers at the right time through the customers’ preferred engagement channels. But where does this customer data come from, and how can it be leveraged to optimize customer engagement and drive sales? The answer lies in the middle of ISM’s Engaged Customer Strategy framework.
Sitting on top of the data foundation are four customer engagement “pillars.” Each pillar is an important source of customer insight as well as an avenue for ongoing interaction.
Even today, feedback from traditional media like face-to-face meetings, phone conversations, advertising/direct mail, email exchanges, surveys/focus groups, paper-based mailers and more can provide valuable customer insights.
Public communities like Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn are great for branding and information-sharing, but they are a bad place for intimate conversations with customers. Private, “branded, or “invitation-only” communities are an excellent complement that can allow meaningful discussions with invited members in a controlled setting. By actively participating in these communities, companies can gather tremendous “social insight” to better engage with their customers.
eCommerce offers great ways to listen to your customers through tools that include new website technology, customized customer portals, optimized search engine visibility, an effective shopping cart, meaningful next-best-offers, and much more. Based on your listening, you can then create more customized websites, portals, etc.
Customers are now engaging with all kinds of new digitally-connected devices. Many companies already capture customer data from mobile apps. Some are also leveraging data coming off wearables – like smart watches and glasses – as well as a growing assortment of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies, as well as personalized video and addressable TV, will increasingly provide meaningful data on customer behavior at home, in-store and elsewhere. Properly leveraged, this data derives enhanced customer engagement.
When pursuing customer engagement through each of these pillars, it is important to realize that customers with various demographics differ in their channel preferences, and to carefully select the most appropriate channel(s) to reach your target audience. Your product messaging also needs to be ‘contextually relevant’ for a given channel, since this greatly increases your likelihood of being heard. Lastly, you will need to be present across multiple channels, both offline and online, at all times. Today, customers expect a consistent brand experience across channels, and they need brands to meet them wherever they are as they move from channel to channel throughout their buying journey.
One last point. Once you have made the decision regarding which channel(s) are best for selling your product, make sure you “listen” to customer feedback coming from each channel and integrate this feedback into each person’s holistic customer profile. As each profile becomes more robust, you can use the customer knowledge it provides to develop increasingly-customized sales, marketing and customer service efforts. Properly done, this ‘closed-loop’ sales, marketing and customer-service listening process will deliver to your company enhanced customer acquisition, retention and growth.
Since 1985, ISM has been creating Engaged Customer Strategies for best-in-class companies worldwide. To learn more about customer engagement developments impacting your business in more detail give us a call. You can also choose a good time here: https://calendly.com/