Customer engagement could very well be the most important part of your small business, as it leads to customer retention – the essential backbone of any business, large or small. That means that you should constantly be asking yourself, ‘Am I engaging my customers in the most effective possible way?’ and ‘Am I using the most up-to-date customer engagement tools?’
According to a recent report from Qualtrics XM Institute, a company that helps businesses measure the effectiveness of customer engagement, companies that earn $1 billion annually can earn $775 million more within three years of investing in customer engagement.
In today’s digital age and competitive business market, customer engagement is much more than simply smiling and telling your customers “Thank you and come back again” as they walk out the door, or counting the clicks on your website.
In order for your customer engagement to be effective, it must be well thought out, modernized digital, and personal. This means analyzing your customer journey; getting customer feedback; listening to what customers are saying about you through reviews, communicating with them through various channels and delivering a consistent and pleasant experience. During the COVID-19 pandemic, more customer touchpoints developed than there ever have been.
Here are some digital tools that can help ensure that you are staying on top of customer engagement:
The benefits of using social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, to name but a few, are endless. A recent study from Business 2 Community found that 63% of millennials use social media to keep up to date with their favorite brands. Effective social media marketing, however, should go beyond simply setting up a company page to make announcements and promote product discounts.
Social media can be used as a platform for your customers to share their experience with your company, and to produce content that could establish you as not just a great business, but a thought leader in your industry. It can also be used to start conversations between you and your customers and gain valuable contacts, among other things. Navigating the social media maze, however, can be a bit challenging, as every platform has its own set of rules. Fortunately, there are online courses you can take to learn how to maximize social media, with many of them not costing anything.
Messaging platforms send messages directly to your customers’ smartphones, tablets or computers, often through downloadable apps. They can be used to inform them of new products, promote sales or promotions, or make general announcements. If you’re dubious about SMS platforms because you think customers will automatically delete messages from your business, research has shown that isn’t likely to happen. A recent survey from Retail Dive showed that 83% of SMS messages are opened within 90 seconds by people. A 2021 survey by Facebook also found another hard-to-ignore statistic: 53% of consumers want the ability to purchase directly through a messaging app, while 59% want to customize products through chat functions.
Setting up a messaging app can be tricky because a lot are out there. Some of the most popular ones include RingCentral, Twist, and Cisco WebEx Teams. Many of them are also free and seamless to use, but you generally want to choose business apps over personal apps, and you should read customer reviews and check their ease of use before committing to one of them.
Whether you’re a law firm, retail store owner or a construction company, your website is the hub of your digital presence and therefore absolutely central to your customer experience. Just measuring the clicks on your site is not enough. You need to ensure that it’s optimized to provide customers what they need – and maximizing engagement is fundamental. That said, website analytics can help you exactly track the progress that your site is making.
Website analytics tell you things such as how much time visitors are spending on your site, the bounce rate (the percentage of your site’s visitors who leave without taking action) and average session duration. Without website analytics, your business is simply taking a shot in the dark on the internet.
Google Analytics, which is free, is probably the most popular website analytics service out there, but there are a host of cost-effective services such as Improvado and LEADSrx that can help you maximize your site and tell you if your site needs to be improved.
As a business owner, you aren’t going to be available 24-hours a day to interact with your customers, so chatbots may be a great solution for you. Chatbots are online AI tools that act as virtual assistants and can speak to your customers when you can’t. They can provide real-time customer assistance and can answer basic questions that potential customers may have about your business.
Most of all, they maintain the all-important two-way dialogue with you and your customer and can speed up response times when your customer requires human assistance.
Digital Customer Surveys
Customer surveys provide feedback on what your customers experienced when doing business with your company, and they can tell you what your customer liked and disliked. Well thought out customer surveys are especially helpful for retail stores, restaurants, eCommerce and other consumer-related businesses, as they provide insight on what your company should keep doing and what it should improve upon, and they are a way of letting your customers know that you care about what their experience was.
With the right software, customer surveys can be completed conveniently on smartphones, tablets and computers. There are plenty of survey software providers out there, with the most popular being from Qualtrics and SurveyMonkey.
A/B testing may be one of the more complex marketing tools out there, but it is also one of the most important. A/B testing is when two or more variants of a digital asset – such as an email or a web page – are shown to users at random, and statistical analysis is used to determine which performs better in terms of customer conversion.
Put simply, it’s a technique used to determine the effectiveness of a web page or other digital asset, and can ensure that you are building your company’s digital presence in the most effective manner. For example, if you want your site to include a new page to promote a sale or new product, and you want to know how effective it will be in attracting customers, you may want to execute an A/B test.
In such a test, you would modify a web page to create a second version of the same page. This difference between the two pages may be as simple as a headline or button, or it could be a complete redesign of the page. Then, half of your traffic is shown the original version of the page and the other half are shown the modified version of the page. Each page would have a dashboard to show you the effectiveness of each.
There are a host of A/B testing software companies out there, with Optimizely and Click Funnels being among the most popular. Prices range from $100 to $250 per month, depending on what exactly you are looking for.
Modernizing Makes a Difference
The reality of today’s consumer is that they want to shop online yet continue to want personable service. Of course, that’s a lot to ask of small business owners, but in today’s digital world, it’s crucial for your survival that you meet customers’ needs and expectations.
We all know that there aren’t enough hours in the day to fully address customer engagement, so these digital tools can ensure that you aren’t losing customers and that your returning customers are kept happy.