We live in an always-online world. Brands are no longer distant entities merely supplying customers with products. Now companies have personalities of their own, and the line between customer service and marketing is thinner than ever before. The customer experience is more than just getting customers to spend their money, it is about the before, during, and after a sales journey. Customers want to feel heard, to have their questions answered, and to have a personal connection to the brand. This does mean brands are working harder than ever to be top in the customer’s eye.
The customer is sought after and companies are constantly vying to get customers to engage. Customer engagement is when companies encourage their customers to interact with the brand in some way. This engagement could be anything from a customer sharing a picture of a product or a written review of an item they recently bought. While some customers will engage without an effort from the brand, a customer engagement strategy is much more effective and will net a brand more engagement.
No one enjoys talking to a robot, and most people would prefer conversing with a real human. Customers are looking for a personal connection to the companies in their lives. Customers want to feel like they are dealing with another person rather than a business. It doesn’t matter what industry a company is in, be it banking or activewear, humanization is essential. Thankfully, making your brand more human is not as hard as it sounds.
One simple way to add a human element to your company is to highlight a personality from within your ranks. This person should be passionate about your organization and a robust neutral communicator as they will be an interactive face of your brand. Have this person talk to customers in a variety of formats such as blogs, videos, or on social media. Simply by putting a human face to your brand, customers will feel more connected.
Talk to your customers like friends and don’t be afraid to throw some humor in the conversation. According to Turku PET Centre, University of Oxford and Aalto University, have found that social laughter releases endorphins and promote the establishment of social bonds. This means laughing at something together creates a connection between people. This will help customers see that your company is not just interested in selling products.
All of this humanizing makes a customer feel more comfortable interacting with your brand. Talking to someone you know is easier than talking to a stranger. By adding a face to your brand, customers are more likely to engage.
Everyone likes to win something, especially if it cost nothing. Brands can easily take advantage of how good winning something feels by hosting contests. This is very commonly done on social media platforms like Twitter or Instagram. For example, host a photo contest on social media where customers are tasked with creatively showing a company’s logo with a prize for the winner. Add a hashtag relating to the contest to keep track of all the pictures and decide a winner. You will be amazed at by what customers can come up with. By giving customers a specific goal with a potential reward, they are more willing to engage.
You might not think that APIs, application program interfaces, have anything to do with engagement, but they can make the difference in several small ways. The definition of an API is a set of functions that allows one application to talk to a different application. This brings features from one program to another, often combining for a better experience.
Live chat is becoming the preferred customer service medium. A recent study showed that 42% of customers prefer to live chat over other types of customer service. Live chat might sound daunting to add to your site, but that’s where APIs come into play. Many companies, such as Zandesk, offer APIs that include live chat interfaces. Having the customer service method customers prefer means they will be more likely to use the service. Customers interacting with customer service is a form of customer engagement.
The highest form of customer engagement is buying a product. When it comes time for a customer to enter their payment information on an online store, it should be as easy as possible – APIs to the rescue again. By working with APIs from Venmo or Paypal, you can easily integrate simple payment methods into your site. By working these APIs into your website, the checkout process will be even more straightforward.
Customer engagement is something every business strives for, but it isn’t hard to achieve. By talking to your customers like friends, hosting creative contests, and making things as easy as possible, you are cultivating customer engagement.