Maintaining the Connection
Why Meaningful Customer Engagement is so Crucial to Sales
You may very well be reading this post in your pajamas. Or on a plane. Maybe even in the bathroom.
Today, we are all connected, all online, all the time. And the truth is, we crave that connection. We need to share what’s on our mind, to seek immediate answers to questions, and maybe show off a bit. And online is where (almost) all the interaction is.
I’ll refrain from passing any value judgments on this social situation. It’s a simple fact of life in our modern world.
But I will ask you this: Are you connecting with your customers, the way they and you and everyone else is connecting with each other?
At this point, you must be making a point to engage your customers in every way possible. This need outweighs nearly every other aspect of your company branding — because more and more, online customer engagement is how your brand gets built.
Customer surveys have found that engaged customers are likely to spend more with your company. Customers who are already working with your company are likely to allot more of their overall budget to your company if they have positive interaction and feel plugged-in to your company.
Not only does the average company get positive vibes from a company that is fully focused on engagement, but today’s customer has come to expect it. In fact, 42% of American consumers say they fully expect a company to reply to their social media inquiries within 60 minutes. And, most customers (57%) expect the same response time on nights and weekends as they do during normal business hours!
- As many as 24% of customers think the response time should happen within 30 minutes, no matter the day or hour
- 82% of all consumers say they use Facebook to reach out to company representatives (ACCENT Marketing)
- More than 60% of consumers will use Facebook to find company promotions and deals (ACCENT Marketing)
When you’re really clicking with customers, or they’re really clicking on you, a powerful emotional connection takes root. They like the feeling that you seem to like them! So you stay top of mind, and they’re more likely to buy, and keep buying.
But it’s not just direct sales that you can gain through these engaged customers. When they’re truly engaged, customers like to tell their friends and family. It’s that good old word of mouth marketing. Today, however, it’s more likely to be via tweets or Facebook posts.
And here’s one more plus of engaged customers. They feel like a part of your brand, and tell you what they think, because they trust you to do something about it. Don’t let them down; use what they have to say to make your products or services better!
Expanding Your Reach (And Your Sales)
So, what can your brand do to create better engagement with your loyal customers and followers? There are several ways to stoke interactions with your audience … and maybe keep them away from your competitors in the process.
Celebrate milestones. Whether you are opening a new brick and mortar site, reaching new heights in website visitors, increasing your registered users’ number or celebrating any other exciting point for your team, get your customers involved! You can help them remember you and make them feel like part of a group that’s in the know. It’s a great opportunity to boost sales with a special deal. Speaking of which …
Offer exclusive deals. Sending deals strictly to your email list or registered users is a highly effective way to make them feel like they’re special to you. Use your company promotions or exclusive content as a lure to help grow your registered user database.
Ask for Interaction. Simply asking your customers about their thoughts and opinions is an excellent way to prove you are open to discussion, accessible and engaging as a company.
That last point is key because it gets to the heart of what customer engagement is all about: putting customers at the center.
Being Customer Focused – For Real
Over the course of my sales career, working with hundreds of sales professionals and sales managers, I’ve witnessed thousands of sales calls and other customer interactions. Looking back, I can say definitively that the strongest business relationships were always built by focusing on understanding clients’ real needs.
Just like any relationship, having a genuine interest in a prospective business partner is the first step to success. Ultimately, the real opportunity to lies in how you can help the customer solve real challenges.
You can talk about being “customer-centric” all you want. But you’re not actually helping the customer drive the conversation — which is what they want! — until you’re giving them every last opportunity to bring their needs and interests to you, when and how they want to.
They have questions. They have comments. They have technical issues. And they all have different ways they want to share these situations at different moments. Your mission must be to make every engagement opportunity as easy and genuine as possible for them.
Certainly, you still need a compelling and relevant core message that differentiates your business, an attractive website, and all the other fundamentals. But perhaps most importantly today, you must be ready and available around the clock and around the world to meet your customers’ needs.