They were once a prospect…. then a lead… then a presentation opportunity… Then… well, you know the routine. But now that you’ve landed this whale (for lack of a better term), what happens? You’ve finally contracted with this client. Does the attention to this particular fish scale back (no pun intended)?
Is it all about the conquest?
Is the honeymoon over?
Well, I’m here to tell you, it better not stop there.
Continued customer engagement is key to your business’ sustainability – the key to your success – and honestly should be the easiest part of your job. Or would you rather go on making cold calls and play the dog-n-pony for new leads every day?
Here are 10 simple tips that will improve your customer engagement.
1. Realize your engagement starts on day one.
If it’s a cold call, if your business model involves lead generation, customer engagement begins with your handling of that lead. Set the tone of the entire relationship as soon as they pick up the phone.
2. Start at the beginning.
TRUE brand engagement gets the biggest return by starting with the Truth. You can’t define your customer’s unique positioning statement until you’ve dated for a while. So slow down and learn. And let THEM learn about (and from) you.
3. Make it easier to be your customer.
Does your business card have your cell phone number on it? If you don’t want to go that far, does it have a number on it where an actual HUMAN answers… maybe even you? Break the barriers you’ve set up to ward off telemarketers and spammers. Your customers don’t want to feel like they’re not part of your culture.
4. All customers (new or old) are created equal.
Sure, a whale gets more attention than a guppy, but keep that fact in the ledger only. Support, lines of communication, and reaction need to be consistent across all levels. Think of it this way… Do you have a favorite child?
5. Personalize and customize.
In another lifetime, I was a kick-ass waiter for a national restaurant chain. I knew, by instinct, that if I knew the customer’s name, their drink preferences, even where they like to sit, that my engagement would improve their experience while at the restaurant (not my flair). Results? Return customers. MUCH better tips. More promotional opportunities for me (never realized due to a job offer in the marketing communications world… from one of those customers… ironic?)
6. Know the difference between “New” and “Well seasoned” customers.
New customers have different needs and expectations than those you’ve had for years (even months). Do your research to understand and respond to these differences.
Most people want to be heard. If they’re like a lot of our customers, they’ll make sure they’re heard… are you there to listen? They like being asked. The act of surveying your customers makes them understand you care. When you report the results of the survey back to them, that’s a double confirmation of your engagement.
8. Show a little appreciation.
If a customer has shown you loyalty, how do you reciprocate? It can be as simple as a Friday afternoon lunch on the company. Or it could be going beyond stipulated expectations – at no extra cost to them. “Can you see how much we appreciate you?” Isn’t always a bad question to ask (yourself).
9. Give ‘em a little buy-in option.
Build a customer panel or advisory board, and invite your customers to join. You’ll be surprised by how many want to participate, share, refer, and engage more as a result of their “one-on-some” participation. If you listen and act on what they have to say, that not only builds their loyalty, but also makes them more willing to reach out to prospects.
10. Use their network.
If a customer provides a referral, that’s like they’re saying “These guys did good by me. You should use ‘em too.” And it’s a sure testimonial of an engaged customer to give a referral. Most customers feel better about the value of your brand when they refer you to people like themselves.
Simple customer engagement should be a daily routine – above lead generation, above self-promotion, and above working “in” the company. If you incorporate these 10 simple tips, you should see a great improvement in return engagement from your customers, thus making the rest of it seem easier.
Until next time…
Andrew B. Clark
The Brand Chef