Customer engagement is a highly coveted measurement of a business’s customer experience. Knowing whether your customers feel engaged by your brand and employees, and which specific measures affect that sense of engagement, can reveal opportunities to build better relationships with your customers.
The goal of generating engagement has driven creative thinking in recent years as businesses look for the secret to getting and holding their customers’ attention. Much of the current conversation centers around social media and mobile devices in the endless race for more followers, likes, clicks, and shares.
While social & mobile strategies are certainly important, don’t lose sight of the basics amid all the chatter. Customer engagement on any platform starts with three key steps: watching, listening, and sharing.
In any interaction, a customer can reveal something about himself or herself that becomes an opportunity to engage in a conversation. Customer-facing employees should be encouraged to look out for such opportunities. Clothing or accessories might reveal if the customer is a fan of a particular sports team or musician, or a graduate of a local university. A parent or grandparent with a small child along with them may appreciate it if you engage the child – “Who’s the handsome little guy you have with you today?”
Just like watching, listening may give you a clue about a customer’s wants or needs that haven’t been covered yet. This applies to in-person interactions as well as over the phone or via text (like email or web chat interfaces). The most important part: being attentive. A customer can tell if the employee’s attention is divided or his/her interest is inauthentic and scripted – in other words, if they’re not being listened to.
Conversation is, of course, a two-way street. In addition to engaging the customer with questions about him or herself, you can also use the opportunity to present information about your business, products, or services.
For example, if you know a particular customer to be a dog lover, you might mention that your business is participating in a fundraiser for a local animal shelter or cause. This is why it’s so important to be attentive in the other parts of this cycle: the more information you remember about each customer, the more the relationship can grow over time.
THE CASE FOR DISCRETION
There are a few shadowy side-effects to the pursuit of engagement. It’s certainly possible to draw the wrong conclusion from a verbal or nonverbal context clue. A rep might say something potentially awkward, confusing, or in the worst case, offensive. Additionally, not every customer is going to be in the mood to participate in small talk at every interaction.
Similarly, not every customer is going to welcome the idea that your business is somehow following their personal lives, whether from their digital data or from in-person interactions. If they feel like you know things you shouldn’t know, or are disseminating information about them across the company “behind their back,” they might feel you’ve crossed the line from engagement to intrusion.
But playing it safe by avoiding Watching, Listening, and Sharing opportunities is not a way to build customer engagement. Skill, training, and practice can equip you with a service & sales staff who engage customers with grace and ease, even if a slip-up happens.
CSP has many resources available for training your employees to engage customers effectively and graciously, including our customized employee training services and our STARS library of exercises, articles, and activities. Contact us or call (800) 841-7954 ext:101 to talk about your customer engagement goals and questions.