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So it happened. A customer fell in love with your product, you made a deal, signed a contract, and now you both hope for many years together.
But along the way, it’s easy for a customer to be amazed by the competition and try their service. For you, it means that once somebody buys a product, that’s when your hard work begins. Falling in love is the easiest part of any relationship. Maintaining it, that’s a different story. So, what do you do to keep your customers engaged over the years?
Customer engagement strategies
Customer engagement is the process of actively nurturing and managing relationships with customers. When you stay in contact with your customers, they stay loyal, give you feedback on your products and basically are engaged. One of the best ways to check if your customers are engaged is to use NPS (Net Promoter Score). It’s a survey with one basic question: “How likely are you to recommend our company to a friend or colleague ” followed by an option to add a short comment. To answers, this question customers choose a number from zero to ten.
Results from 9 to 10 mean that they’re your promoters. Numbers lower than 9 indicate that you need to work on their satisfaction and engagement. There are many strategies to keep your customers engaged. Let me give you some examples.
Truly know your customers and tailor communication
“If customers are the lifeblood of a business, then the database is its heart. Only those companies who truly know their customers and tailor communications to accurately defined target markets will survive and grow," wrote Ludi Koekemoer and Steve Bird in their book Marketing Communications.
Many companies have a large base of customer data. Yet, few use it in a smart and effective way. Tailored communication is one of those smart methods. Since customers have different interests, you can group them by their preferences and tweak communication that best suit their needs. If you deliver something atractive, you’ll keep client engagement high.
Pizza Hut, to get to know their customers better, carried them through the registration process to define customers' personal communication, pizza preferences, and delivery instructions. Then the company segmented its customer base into 6,000 behavioral groups and used this information to deliver personalized promotions, predict future purchases and contact customers at the most opportune times through their favourite communication channels.
“Customers have their own preferred channels of communication and their response affinity also varies highly across channels,” explained Juliana Lim, Pizza Hut's Senior Marketing Director at the time. “The understanding of customers has allowed Pizza Hut to not only segment customers on the basis of their behaviors, but it’s also able to match the right media – email, mobile, direct mail, web – to the right customers resulting in better response to their usual offers,” she added. Pizza Hut noted a 38 percent improvement in customer retention rate.
The company also engages clients beyond selling pizza. Recently, they launched a global blog to tell brand stories. They connect with fans by giving them behind the scenes view of the company.
Moreover, they engage the audience by launching interesting video campaigns, like a video about a cultural phenomenon: selfies – and all the obsession that goes with it. Its goal was to entertain the viewers and provoke a conversation. After all, who hasn’t taken a good selfie recently?
Tim Staples, the co-founder of Shareability, who created the Dangers of Selfie Sticks PSA spot, said:
Smart brands understand that you need to give the audience a valuable piece of content, and then attach their brand in a clever and subtle way. Pizza Hut is a smart brand. The goal of this video is to start a conversation, not beat people over the head with a product message.
Nurture customers through a caring relationship
Social media channels give us an opportunity to have conversation with clients and engage with them directly. Companies just need to start using it right. A typical company limits its actions to updating customers on new products and responding to questions about sales on Twitter and Facebook. It’s always good to keep customers updated, but it’s not enough to keep them engaged.
To nurture customer relationships, you should go outside of your comfort zone and start participating in customers’ conversations about your product. Here’s how Gary Vaynerchuk, the owner of winelibrary.com (the Internet’s leading discount wine retailer), explains how to engage in conversations on customers’ social media channels:
At winelibrary.com I'm able to see that you're a Pinot Noir drinker. By communicating with you on Twitter or Facebook, I'm able to learn that, in addition to wine, you're also a football fanatic, regular cupcake eater, and a new gardener. The next time you tweet or post about making cupcakes, I can suggest pairing your cupcakes with a new dessert Riesling in stock that's similar in taste to another Riesling you mentioned last month.
Make them feel important by personal approach
It’s good to be a long–term client and have benefits from it. Customers need to feel important on a daily basis, each time you make contact. Once they get an impression that you were interested in them only until the sale was made, they won’t be as loyal. So go above and beyond to keep delighting them.
Thank you notes are a great idea, but only when you mean it. People can sense when we do something because it’s the right thing to do, not because we want to. Thank you notes can’t be forced, especially in the form of Christmas wishes once a year. Think about them in an unconventional way.
You can pick up a bizarre holiday, such as International T-shirt Day, and send out a thank you card along with a company’s t-shirt. There’s a big chance that customers are not even aware of that kind of holiday. Since they don’t expect that kind of recognition, they are more likely to appreciate the gesture and engage with you.
Just keep in mind the advice of Erica Ariel Fox, best–selling author of Winning from Within:
Update your database with personal life changes you know about. You don’t want to send good wishes to your client and his wife if they got divorced last year.
After all, a personal approach should bring you closer to a customer, not set you apart.
Keep client engagement high
Instead of focusing on the next sale, you can invest some time to get to know your customers’ preferences and nurture relationships with them. It pays off much more than gaining a new customer.
Keep getting to know your customers, engage in conversations they have, and show them that they’re important anytime such chance appears.
You want them to be your lifetime customers, so you need to be constantly working on your relationship. Remember, happily ever after comes one day at a time.