September 27, 2020

Mads Fosselius: Strategies to drive customer engagement in the Now and the Next

By Mads Fosselius, CEO and Founder, Dixa

Regardless of industry, product or service, one of the drivers for achieving business success is having a strong customer engagement strategy. Due to the ongoing fallout from the pandemic, 2020 has been one of the most challenging years for businesses affected by consumer behaviour and buying habits.

The UK is officially in recession and consumer confidence is historically low. In order to improve and grow, businesses need to focus on what they can do to rebuild and repair customer relationships in these final months of the year  and beyond. Part of this involves focusing on relationship building with customers, in an effort to win back spend and loyalty.

This is where improving customer engagement has a powerful role to play: two-thirds of companies compete on the quality of their customer experience and 96% of consumers agree that customer service is key to their purchase decisions. Ramping up customer engagement, therefore, has the potential to pay dividends down the line.

Interactions with customers

Customer engagement can be defined as the continuous and valuable interactions between a business and its customers. Running a successful business is not only about attracting customers to your website, converting them, accepting their money, and thanking them for their custom. That’s crucial for ongoing success, sure, but engaging customers and cultivating valuable relationships long-term takes entirely more finesse and should be the focus.

Businesses trying to make a major impact on their industry, or niche, must therefore understand their core audience, pain points, budgets, shopping habits, goals, the most appealing options available to them, etc. before they can start to really engage them.

A successful company focusing on customer engagement will use this data to anticipate buyer needs and position itself as the ideal solution in light of this information. Catering to these target consumers’ requirements and delivering a quality service can help secure shoppers’ loyalty too; as highly-engaged customers are likely to keep coming back, make repeat purchases and recommend the business to others.

Automation vs. the human touch

Anyone who’s ever called a support line and been greeted by a never-ending list of options will understand how frustrating ‘poor’ automated service can be.

This isn’t to say that there’s no place for a well-executed automation strategy. Automating standard, repetitive tasks will promote speed, efficiency and effectiveness in the customer journey. However, this automation must be introduced in a thoughtful way, with a clear strategy shaping its impact on your business.

The right customer service software can intelligently determine whether an inquiry can be handled with pure automation, if it needs the human touch, or a mix of both. As with most things in life, balance is key, and a combination of automation and human-to-human connection is important to many customers.

Empathy towards customer needs

To become empathetic, businesses must understand their target customers and recognise which problems they are experiencing. Customers’ pain points and situations may have changed dramatically since the onset of the pandemic, and acknowledging this is important.

Companies must work hard to deliver the level of service customers need and deserve.  This might mean slowing some processes to allow agents extra time to listen to customers on calls or live chats. Customers will appreciate this effort and business that implement this will benefit more in the long run.

But, what about customer service agents themselves? While more employees are returning to offices, many organisations are still working from home – a very different working environment than the office they’re used to. Businesses should be honest with customers about their customer support set-up and remind them that employees are doing their best in unusual circumstances; thanking them for their patience in advance.

The importance of personalisation

Embracing more personalisation into customer engagement helps customers feel more valued. That’s why 44% of consumers are likely to become repeat buyers after a personalised service interaction and 39% will introduce their friends or relatives to the brand.

Customer service software enables brands to deliver a level of personalised service not previously possible. By unifying communications across phone, email, chat and messaging, agents can instantly access the information they need. This enables them to understand a customers’ previous issues, what promises were made and what their preferred communication channel is – rather than asking them to provide previously shared info.

Short term adaptability = long term agility

COVID-19 has forced many businesses to pivot by making quick changes to their operations and processes. For companies who had already embraced remote work, the transition may have been easier. But many had to learn on-the-go. This increases the risk of delays and disruptions to services — including customer support.

Fortunately, flexibility and adaptability are the cornerstones of remote working, and  embracing the right software solution empowers teams with the freedom to work from any location in the world as long as it has an internet connection. This creates a stable foundation to build a successful customer service network— regardless of where employees are located.

Workload management

There will, no doubt, be fluctuating workloads to manage. Quality customer service software helps agents to cope and to pay equal attention to every communication channel, rather than switching between them.

Additionally, as intelligent routing prioritises inquiries based on their importance, agents are unable to ignore more complex interactions in favour of more straightforward ones. As a result, customers won’t be left waiting for a response while “easier” issues get addressed. Lastly, businesses can expand their customer support teams to accommodate an increase in demand in a more cost-effective and fast way. They can set new agents up and increase efficiency without trying to find more office space.

As we enter the last few months of 2020, there is no doubt that it continues to be a tough environment for businesses to operate in. Organisations will need to focus on delivering the right kinds of customer communication strategies that will drive customer engagement and loyalty.