Since the Great Recession of 2007–2009, many American consumers have reduced their spending, changed their shopping habits and increased their expectations. Changing consumer behavior has led some businesses to adjust their practices to keep up.
Consumers want more value for their money. And they want businesses to earn their loyalty. That’s why companies today must work harder to gain trust and create customer engagement.
What is customer engagement?
Customer engagement is the emotional or psychological attachment a customer has with a brand. It can be considered an expansion of customer service that becomes an ongoing dialogue and long-term relationship. Customer engagement can happen anytime and anywhere, so it requires companies to listen closely, answer questions, hear ideas and solve problems.
Why Engaged Customers Matter
Research shows a strong link between customer engagement and growth. Today’s consumer often makes buying decisions and forms loyalties based more on emotions than rational considerations. They are more likely to engage with firms they feel provide above-average customer service.
Engaged customers are more loyal. They go out of their way to seek out the products they prefer, and may recommend favorite brands to their friends and family. They want to be sure they are making good decisions, backed up by their personal relationship with a brand.
Every business – whether B2B (business-to-business) or B2C (business-to-consumer) – should work to meet customer expectations and engage with them on their terms. These days, it’s a major factor in sustaining growth.
How Customer Engagement Affects Business
In every industry, engaged customers offer businesses increased sales and profitability. They may bring in more revenue by utilizing more banking services, shopping more often at their favorite retailers and spending more money at their preferred hotels. Businesses that can provide the meaningful experience consumers seek will see a return on their efforts.
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3 Ways Business Can Improve Customer Engagement
Make the most of your opportunities to strengthen customer loyalty through these simple steps:
- Know Your Brand Promise and Deliver on It
Businesses must develop and stand behind their brand. They should consistently deliver on their brand promise: what the company stands for, why their products and services are better than the competition and why customers should choose them. Employees must be trained on each of these areas and supported in their efforts to deliver on the brand promise.
- Be Consistent Everywhere
At each point of contact, customers must receive consistent messaging and service that reinforces their perception of the brand.
- Go Beyond Satisfied Customers
Simply satisfying customers is not enough. Outstanding businesses go beyond satisfaction to create emotional connections with customers. They also continually measure and improve their performance and customer engagement.
Measuring Customer Engagement
Some companies focus on getting more customers, through price reductions and constant promotions. Other companies focus on customer relationships and delivering on a strong brand promise, to create engaged customers for life. One way they become successful at building relationships is by measuring customer engagement.
Gathering and analyzing data at every interaction point allows companies to spot the positive trends that can be built on, as well as the potential problems that need to be fixed. They stay one step ahead of their customers (and several steps ahead of the competition), always anticipating what customers will want and need and continuously evolving their deliverables accordingly.
Customer Engagement Can Happen in Any Industry
Any company, whether B2B or B2C, has the potential to strengthen its relationships and create more engaged customers. With intention, a united effort and a focus on every customer interaction, it is possible to improve profitability and sustain growth through the power of customer engagement.