How engaged are your customers? What steps have you taken to ensure that each customer who interacts with your company is fully engaged? If you are like most organizations (one study showed more than half), you don’t have a formal program for customer engagement in place. How many customers did you lose last year? Not sure? Customer engagement programs have methods for providing you with this vital information. If you have not implemented a formal customer engagement program, you probably don't have the tools in longterm scalable company growth.
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In one survey, when 500 marketers were asked about customer engagement, 63% said that customer engagement included retention, repeat purchases, and renewals. One Gallup Poll showed that when compared to the average customer, fully engaged customers make up 23% of revenue, profitability, and relationship growth.
Are your customers really loyal to your business? Find out here.
People aren’t shopping the way they once did. In this digital age, consumers have more transparency into organizations, allowing people to see how they are likely to be treated by a company based on how it is currently treating its customers. Consumers have choices, and they are exercising them, so it is up to businesses to implement programs that will fully engage them and meet their needs.
The Three Pillars of the Inbound Service Framework
The profitability of growth through your existing customer base is what makes the inbound service framework so invaluable. It centers on engaging your customers, guiding them, and growing them into better ones.
- 1. Engage customers – Customer-facing employees are your front line to customer engagement so encourage them to begin quickly and avoid superficial engagement by going deep and being real.
- 2. Guide customers – Guiding customers to make good choices that bring them to optimal outcomes begins with building strong relationships rooted in trust.
- 3. Grow better customers – Leverage your customers’ feedback and advocacy to grow better customers and, as a result, grow a better business.
Anatomy of the Modern Customer
These three pillars require that you implement a customer first approach, but what does “customer first” really means?
Many organizations toss around the term “customer first,” but all too often there is a disparity between what they say and what they do. Some may make a halfhearted attempt, but the truth is, you can’t scale back quality until it is “just good enough” or hire the cheapest customer service reps possible. In one poll, 80% of the companies surveyed believed that the customer service they delivered was superior. By contrast, only 8% of the customers surveyed felt that the customer service they had experienced was excellent.
Modern forms of customer service are not areas where you should be cutting corners – find another area in the budget if you need to cut back on something. Put the customer first and show them they are first with human engagement delivered quickly and the highest quality possible. Avoid problems with proactive guidance and implement feedback channels to give your customers a voice. Then show you are listening by using that feedback to allow both your customer and your company to grow better.
Implementing a “Customer First” Philosophy
Putting the customer first in your organization is more than training customer-facing employees to “engage, guide, and grow.” It begins with creating a customer first culture that is embraced by every employee in every section of your company. It means creating policies that support the customer-first philosophy and fully defining your core values to reflect it.
As a company, you will want to develop policies that center around customer engagement. Be human, be quick, be relatable and be approachable. Use conversational tools like chat to build trust and form relationships while you guide your customers to beneficial outcomes. Gather and utilize two-way feedback to build customer advocates as you grow together.
The Customer Journey Map: Development, Creation, and Implementation
A customer journey map is a written documentation of the stages of the customer experience, identifying what is needed for them to succeed at each point. It provides a visual of a customer’s experience when they interact with your company. It tells the story from the first contact to sale to the relationship after. Each point is mapped out allowing you to see what areas need to be strengthened or modified as well as where the customer experiences frustration.
Benefits of Mapping Your Customer Journey
The obvious benefit of mapping your customer journey is that it allows you to look through the eyes of your customer as they move through the customer experience in your company. What may not be as readily apparent though, are the other benefits such as:
- •Identify roadblocks or gaps in your communications, process, and service - and correct them, transforming them into touch points
- •Unite marketing, sales, and operations, so they all work together smoothly
- •Personalize your customers’ and leads’ experiences in a practical, efficient way.
Building your Customer Journey Map
Walk through your entire process from start to finish and look at it through the eyes of a customer. What are the “make or break” moments? Note those points so that you can focus particular attention on those areas. While you should stay focused on the customer throughout the journey, highlight these critical moments and increase your customer work there. Your company should be aligned around these required deliverables for customer satisfaction.
Identify these key areas:
- •First Impression - The point of your customers’ first interaction with your brand
- •First Value - The point where your customers believe that they will get what they want from your company
- •Intended Value - The point where your customers feel that they received the value they wanted or expected to get from your company
- •Extended Value - The point where your customers believe that the value they have received surpasses what they expected.
Each product, service, or industry has a different value proposition – most of the time anyway. This means that the customer journey is different for each. With each one your customer’s needs are different, their expectations are different, and what is needed for them to succeed at each stage is different as well.
One customer will have different journeys and expectations when the outcome is different. For instance, a customer seeking pest control services will not have the same journey that they would if they were purchasing pest control products. It is vital to be able to define each customer journey and have a clear view of how it plays out.
Using Content to Guide Your Customers
Content is integral to your marketing strategy and is a powerful tool for educating, attracting, retaining, and engaging your customers. You can’t just stick any old article on your blog and expect it to do the things you want it to do magically. It takes careful crafting and technical knowledge to make it work for you.
Using your content to guide your customers through their journey takes skill, but when it’s done right, it is very effective. Here are a few tips to ensure you are doing it right:
- •Allow for customer self-service as much as possible
- •Take steps to reduce customer friction
- •Structure your content so that it solves issues that your customers commonly face and take a proactive approach to guide them through it.
- •Identify the right points in the customer journey to offer guidance.
- •Most modern customers prefer self-help for most of their journey.
Most modern customers are very tech-savvy and independent. They typically don’t need a sales rep holding their hand through most of their journey. When they have a problem, they turn to a search engine like Google (usually on their phone or mobile device-which is why mobile optimization is so important) and find the answer they need from an online source. If they are unable to find a solution online, they will turn to social media and often will use one of the company’s social media platforms or a chat feature on the website to get the information. If that doesn’t work, then they will make the call to talk to a human – this is usually a very last resort.
Moral of the story? Offer online options to make self-service fast, efficient, and effective.
Enabling Customer Self-Service
Make self-service easy for your customers by identifying issues that they experience often or regularly. Address those issues through your content, whether in a help file or a knowledge base. Make the content searchable and scannable so customers can get the information they need quickly and move on. You can also identify key moments in their journey and create supporting content for that as well.
Creating Effective Self-Service Content
Creating useful self-service content that engages customers has several key traits:
- 1. It identifies a common customer issue, question, help ticket, or conversation.
- 2. Each topic is given its post or article.
- 3. The title of each post or article is structured in the form of a question as a customer would ask it.
- 4. The answer to each question is direct, clear, and brief, employing bullet points, graphics, lists, and video.
- 5. Each post is optimized for search engines and is available online to the public without restriction.
- 6. Content types: The knowledge base and the blog
A knowledge base page is not the same as a blog. We’re all familiar with a blog where content is posted (this is one of them). The best blogs are searchable and allow for topic or category searches. A knowledge base, on the other hand, has a few differences:
- 1. It has a search bar at the top so that the customer can refine their search
- 2. The search path (breadcrumbs) is visible so they can move back a step if they want to broaden their search.
- 3. The categories are listed so they can explore specific topics or categories further.
- 4. The page’s primary goal is to provide knowledge content. It is optimized to make it easier to find, but unlike a blog post, it 5. is not designed to draw traffic.
- 6. Giving your customers self-help tools that make their lives easier is one of the best customer services you can offer.
Looking for actionable ways to implement customer service initiatives that make your customers your biggest marketing asset? Leading organizations are doing it, and you should too. At ManoByte, we implement customer experience processes and tools that are laser-focused on creating the best possible customer journey so your clients are eager to refer and promote you as their service provider. Click below to get in touch with us today to see how we can take your customer experience processes and turn them into a growth strategy for your business.