Customers in the Digital World: Get them Engaged!
Customers are becoming more demanding than ever before. And technology is providing them the much needed impetus! With the world coming close, consumers are increasingly steering the way businesses interact and deliver services across channels. Customer Centricity is the trend today!
Increased access to internet and use of smartphones has painted the digital world like never before. Customers have an array of communication channels at their disposal-websites, mobile, social media, text, email etc- there is an explosion in channels that are being used by businesses to connect with their customers. In this cluttered online market, only companies who can engage with their customers and improve their experience across channels will stand out. And to compete, businesses will have to be agile and fast and deliver personalized service at every point of contact, every time. If you don’t, your competitors will, leaving you behind.
Customer Engagement is the Key
To win their customers, businesses need to understand their customers and engage with them to convey how they can help. Making the first sale is not enough, repeat purchase is equally important. To retain customers and to prevent losing them to your competitors, you need to capture their mind share and have a positive brand image. This is possible if you keep in touch with your customers and engage with them on a positive note regularly.
How is customer engagement different from customer experience?
Unlike customer experience, customer engagement encompasses an ongoing relationship with a product or brand. Customer experience refers to the customer’s interaction with the product and the company only at a single point in time, whereas customer engagement is an ongoing process with an objective of building a consistent dialogue with customers that garners familiarity and emotional attachment to a brand, product or service.
How to achieve customer engagement?
Gone are the days when you will send text messages or call your customers to tell them about your services. Neither would giving away freebies and inviting them for cocktails work alone.
Today’s customers are smart. And digital channels have made them smarter!
However, for organizations, the answer also lies in these digital channels!
Organizations need to realize the importance of data which can be gathered –both structured and unstructured—across channels, and then analysed to provide actionable intelligence into customer sentiments and the overall customer journey. Not just analyze, organizations also need to act. They need to optimize customer engagement by carefully evaluating customer journey, break any existing silos.
The game remains the same whereas the rules have changed. The war for customer engagement has now changed its field to the digital domain but the objective is still the same- collaborate, engage and win! To win, you need to be proactive and adaptive with the changing customer needs and business dynamics.
So how do you engage with customers in the digital world?
Three basic forces are shaping disruption across industries – customer service and relationship management; customer insight; and transaction and loyalty.
In order to win you will need to execute the following across these three key areas.
Customer service and relationship management
> Automation to the rescue. Businesses need to leverage tools and technology to automate various aspects of customer relationship management. Yes, technology cannot replace the human touch, neither is it intelligent enough to understand business emotions while responding. However, most of te standard responses can be automated. And such personalized communication can be delivered across channels preferred by the customers. This is crucial, especially in the face of increasing number of channels and increasing number of interactions. Technology is the sole harbinger to help organizations manage such communications and scale while being efficient. CRM solutions from Aalpha can help you automate the entire customer engagement lifecycle.
> Make your audience resonate using technology. Today’s customers are well networked and connected. They are active across social media and seek advice and share opinions through online conversations. Every interaction with your customer is hence, an opportunity to present your product and brand to the customer and their social circle. Hence, businesses should embrace technology to track the social impact of their communication with customers and influence their audience to resonate their message. Social and tracking tools and solutions from Aalpha can help you understand your customers better.
> Go Real Time. As customers become mobile, they demand services anytime, anywhere. Redressal to queries in real time is a must have- be it tracking status of requests raised, receive confirmations or place orders. Personalisation in communication is equally important. Businesses need to be at the tip of their toes and communicate with their customers in real time. Technology can come to their rescue here. Communication solutions from Aalpha can help businesses enhance their customer engagement.
> Personalization is the key. The attention span of online visitors have reduced to below 8 seconds. Online dwellers are actively looking out for products and services- all you need to capture their attention is to understand their needs and offer them what they want.
Using data from social media and tracking their online behavior will help businesses understand their customers better and deliver tailor-made products and services. Analytical tools from Aalpha can help businesses achieve this!
> Manage your social reputation. Pen is mightier than sword. In digital world, social media is the pen of the physical world. Customers share their opinion with their networks very fast. And the effect is not the same. Bad word spreads faster than good words and can tarnish your brand. It is also a function of the size of the network of your customer. Hence, brand reputation management is a critical area for organizations. Technology tools from Aalpha can help you keep a regular track and take measures immediately.
> Offer buying convenience. A sale is not just dependent on the product but also how it is delivered, the entire purchase experience matters. And this experience has a considerable impact on further engagement. A customer willing to buy a product on credit would want a credit card or COD facility. In the online world of clutter, where customers are increasingly running behind convenience, payment convenience is extremely critical. Organisations need to support a plethora of payment facilities like biometric authentication, coupons, mobile payments, loyalty points, PIN, real-time fraud detection, real-time offers etc in addition to modes of payment to their customers. ecommerce solutions from Aalpha are built with customer convenience in mind.
> Switch to value selling. With online medium getting more transparent and meta websites delivering comparison of benefits and prices readily, it is imperative for businesses to not just be transparent with pricing, but augment selling ideas by structuring real time dynamic offers suited to needs of their customers. Analytically driven systems can help devise tailored offers to increase online sales. Web developers and tools from Aalpha have helped multiple customers increase their business revenues
> Focus on Long term loyalty. The loyalty paradigm is set to undergo transformation as organizations will soon start offering loyalty benefits like points, rewards etc. for not just the transaction but the entire customer lifecycle including checking out products, adding a comment or review etc. Tailored software solutions customized to your strategy can help. Aalpha is a pioneer in this regard.
With such key focus areas, organizations need to embrace software solutions to streamline business process and scale by engaging with customers.
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About The Author
My name is Stuti Dhruv & I am senior consultant at Aalpha, primarily working on pre sales, consulting with clients on latest technology trends.