Like social interactions, the relationship between a business and the customer needs regular input and investment in order to develop and grow. It takes more effort to land a new customer than it does to retain a current client, and customer retention is very important in a small business.
Customer relationship is an often overlooked, but incredibly important variable that determines the success of your business. But what is customer engagement (or client engagement)? Simply put, it’s the act of engaging your customers with your brand via social media, personal outreach, and a laundry list of other methods.
Engaged customers are more loyal, stick around longer, and provide you with a reliable revenue stream. That is because customer engagement directly impacts customer satisfaction. And the benefits mentioned above actually stem from satisfaction.
So, how do you improve customer relationship and reap all those benefits that will help you grow your business? Below we cover 13 customer relationship management tips and best practices that will inspire and empower you to take your customer relationship management efforts to new heights.
1. Focus first and foremost on the overall customer experience
As mentioned above, a great customer experience is only possible if you consistently engage your customers. And like I said, a great customer experience leads to elevated levels of customer satisfaction, which should be one of the most important objectives of any business. It is all interrelated. Customer engagement produces a better customer experience, which leads to higher levels of customer satisfaction. Check out this article to learn how to boost customer satisfaction levels.
2. Use the right software
To effectively engage customers, you need automation tools that streamline processes and allow you to focus more on the customer and less on routine administrative tasks. Key among them is a customer relationship management (CRM) solution. It helps you store all your customer data, so you can personalize their experience and increase engagement (more on that below). These days, many businesses are opting for an all-in-one CRM, because they provide marketing automation, sales enablement, and customer service all on the same platform. With marketing automation, you can more easily communicate with and engage customers. And with a customer service help desk module, your customer support team can automate processes and spend more time engaging customers.
3. Ask for feedback and do it often
Ask your clients how you are doing and what you could improve to facilitate their success using your product. Send a follow-up survey after customer support calls. Send annual surveys to uncover customer pain points that you were not aware of. Then implement changes based on their feedback and tell them about it. If they see you making the improvements they asked for they will look to engage more and become more loyal.
4. Listen to your clients and display empathy
Empathy is incredibly important in life in general, and the same goes for business. When you speak to your clients, the conversation should revolve around their needs and challenges.
Ask them questions that will allow them to be candid and tell you what they need to make better use of your product. Listen intently. If they tell you something that is insulting to your company, try to relate to their frustration. Tell them you understand and will escalate their issue to the appropriate person. Always put yourself in your customers’ shoes and empathize with them. As the old adage goes: you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
5. Always reply to comments on social media
Social media is arguably the best place to engage customers. As millennials overtake baby boomers as the largest consumer demographic, we will continue to see an increase in social media usage. When someone takes the time to comment on your post, it’s imperative that you respond quickly and in a polite, encouraging manner. Thank them. Compliment them. Stroke their ego and they will continue to come back and engage with you. Ignore them, and they’re gone. You can use social listening tools to be alerted the moment someone mentions your brand or comments on your social media posts. Leverage those tools to reply as quickly as possible. Engage your audience right when they engage with you, and you’ll have a dialogue started.
6. Follow high-value clients and comment on their social posts
Just as clients engage with you on your social media pages, you can engage with them on their pages. Follow your high-value customers, so their posts appear in your feed. Comment whenever possible. If they ask a question in their post, answer it. This will engage your most important customers, ensuring that they stick with your brand over the long run.
7. Create compelling content that solves real problems
One of the best examples of super effective customer engagement strategies is to produce great inbound content. This refers to blogs, eBooks, and other content that does not try to sell your product.Rather it educates your audience. It solves common problems they face. And it helps keep them on the cutting edge of emerging trends. If the content is engaging, your customers will be the ones engaging with it. Read more about leveraging inbound content marketing to increase engagement.
8. Leverage personalization in all your customer interactions
With so much personal data on each contact stored in your CRM, you can personalize every interaction you have with them. This will make them feel that you know them, make them comfortable with you, and will encourage them to engage with you. Use personalization in your marketing efforts. Use it on sales and customer support calls. Find personal data that you can use to speak to them like an old friend, not a company who only wants their money.
9. Reach out to check in on a consistent basis
Make it a habit to have someone in the company reach out to every customer on a regular basis. It should be the same person every time, so you build a personal relationship with them over time. It could be an account rep, a support rep, or even an executive for high-value customers. It is just a quick call to check in, make sure everything is going well, ask them if there is anything they need, etc. It shows that you care about their success. If all is well, the call will take a few minutes. But the loyalty and increase in customer engagement will be worth exponentially more in the long run.
10. Leverage social media contests
Your customers will love this one! Create a contest and manage it through social media (preferably Facebook). For example, challenge your customers to submit a photo that best illustrates the impact your product has on their business. Then offer an award for the best photo. The award could be a $50 gift card to a popular retail store like Amazon. Send an email to all your customers announcing the contest. And blast it all over your social media channels. Then send a reminder email when there are only a few days left to participate. If you do this right, you’ll see a ton of submissions. Customers will comment on other customers’ photos. And you should do the same. That’s powerful customer engagement. Finally, send an email announcing the winner and post it on your social channels. Customers will enjoy participating. In this way, you make customer engagement fun.
11. Create closed forums to let customers for a community
Many of your customers will face the same challenges, and it’s important to let them connect with each other to discuss those. Create a forum that is tied to your website and is only accessible by customers with their login info. Allow them to ask questions or request product updates. Other customers will respond, and a dialogue will begin. They will start to form a community in which they reach out to one another for suggestions. Not only will this engage them with your brand (albeit indirectly) but it will lighten the burden on your customer support team. The more that customers can solve their own problems with the help of their peers, the less they will rely on your support team for assistance. A lighter load on your customer support team means they can spend more time on each support case, and their conversations will be more engaging to the customer. Everyone wins!
12. Engage in corporate social responsibility
Consumers increasingly consider a company’s morals and standing in the community when making a decision to buy. Millennials tend to be more altruistic than past generations. If you can show them you’re dedicated to supporting the community you serve, they will respect your company more and give more consideration to your product. It’s easy to do. Donate to a local charity. Organize employee volunteering events. Start an employee matching gifts program where your company matches any donation your employees make to a charity. Then shout your results from the rooftop, so your customers know you’re a socially and environmentally conscious business. If you achieve that, customers will respect you more and want to engage with you more often.
I noted the key takeaway here in the introduction of this article: Increase engagement, and you’ll deliver a better customer experience, which will lead to more satisfied customers. Satisfied customers spend more, become brand advocates, are loyal, and stick around longer. Follow the tips above and you’ll raise customer engagement to new levels, which will result in increased revenue and sustainable business growth.
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