‘Engagement’ is fast becoming a buzz word for businesses, particularly those operating with a focus online and on social media. Customer engagement is now a key component of business development, customer service and marketing practices – yet it doesn’t necessarily fit entirely or clearly into one department or the other. This presents a challenge for business owners but one that can be overcome with a clear customer engagement strategy and a focus on continual improvement. But where to start and how to gain momentum? Feefo can explain all…
The term ‘customer engagement’ refers to any interaction between a consumer/customer and a business. This covers any communication channel, both online and offline, prompted by either party. Traditionally, customer engagement has been nurtured and developed by customer service departments, prompted by sales and marketing. With consumers now able to access brand communications in a variety of different ways, however, it has expanded to include numerous touch-points along the customer journey.
In the current climate of digital communications, customer engagement is often thought of as back-and-forth conversation or ‘banter’ on social media channels; but in reality, the definition covers every interaction with a customer that a brand has.
On the whole, customer engagement can be considered a positive behaviour. Those who engage with a brand are most likely to purchase more, promote more and to demonstrate ongoing customer loyalty; and therefore, extend the customer lifecycle.
Customers engaging with a brand demonstrates that the product, service or experience they are offering is impressive enough to spark interest: undoubtedly a good thing! Ongoing customer engagement allows businesses the opportunity to reinforce and reiterate their values and desired perceptions, as well as to evoke positive feeling in consumers. As mentioned above, good levels of customer engagement increase loyalty and sales and so in maintaining business survival and success, it is an imperative activity for retention.
A customer engagement strategy is a business strategy that identifies the most effective ways, channels and activities to engage with its consumers and to map out how the business will do so, to fit in with its wider goals. This strategy will include relevant customer engagement ideas, the channels and platforms on which the brand intends to prompt engagement, and the customer persona who it intends to target. A customer engagement strategy should tie in with existing marketing activities and campaigns and strengthen their impact.
In writing a customer engagement strategy, there needn’t be overcomplication from ‘the off’. The focus can begin with the execution of customer engagement activity on one relevant platform with one customer engagement idea, and branch out as necessary or appropriate thereafter. As digital platforms, customer appetites and marketing activities develop, so too should a customer engagement strategy – and a degree of trial and error can help uncover the perfect combination of platforms, communication styles and activities for a brand.
A business’ customer engagement ideas should stem from whichever platform, tone of voice or interactions works best for their target audience; and this varies from business to business. Identifying this can be tricky, however, as often consumers aren’t able to specify or identify exactly how they’d like to engage. Despite this, collecting customer reviews, which Feefo facilitates, offers a good starting point.
Customer reviews, when collected properly and independently, allow for direct feedback and communication with customers. The onward analysis of this data allows for businesses to unearth and understand better the dynamic between their brand and its end user, through fact-based insights and intelligence gained. When reviews are collected by an independent third-party, such as Feefo, customers are more likely to be honest and less reserved in their feedback. Whilst this may seem difficult to manage, it in fact presents plenty of opportunities for product and service improvement initiatives, market strategies and product development. These include (but are by no means limited to):
There are a lot debates how customer reviews can help the brand's SEO and there are more questions than answers. But let us spell it out very simply without any exaggeration and over-promising! Customer reviews are treated as UGC (User Generated Content), which is really great for the pages which have a low word count. Usually product pages have a low word count due to the nature of the product pages as these only outline the product features what can be a very short blurb. This is where the customer reviews come in handy as these can add more fresh and relevant content to the page. Also these reviews may contain long tails variations of the target keyword what can help the page start ranking for more relevant keywords and bring in more organic traffic.
On top of that customer reviews can be collected on dedicated review pages which also can rank for reviews related keywords and capture organic traffic that can be channeled to relevant product or service pages.
Can customer reviews improve your rankings? Well, this is a tricky question as high rankings are a combination of a lot of hard SEO work and different SEO strategies. So singling out UGC or reviews as the main ranking signal would be simply not right. However, adding customer reviews to your SEO Strategy certainly can strengthen your overall SEO efforts, improve customer engagement and time on page stats!
Feefo’s Smart Themes integrate real customer reviews with relevant product and service pages on a business’ website to enhance the customer journey and increase customer trust, even before a purchase is made. Complete customisation over widgets and their ‘look and feel’ allow brands to optimise their own branding along with genuine customer interaction to help prompt purchase, trust and positive ‘buzz’.
In-depth Performance Profiling and Customer Insights
The Performance Profiling tools Feefo offer are a comprehensive way for businesses to learn from data supplied by customer reviews. This includes Sentiment Scoring, for measuring customer feeling around a brand, product, service and/or experience, Performance Graphs to identify trends and priorities from which to take action and Smarter Reporting for easy-to-read tangible topical insights. Information from all of these measures can be included in planning for a wider customer engagement strategy and can help formulate new ideas for customer engagement exercises.
As well as reviews, Feefo also has the functionality to create, send and collate information from direct customer surveys. Customer surveys give those already interacting with a brand the chance to state if they’d like to engage further, how they’d like to engage and what they expect to see or gain from such engagement. This allows businesses to look further than their standard sales cycle and formulate new customer engagement ideas for future activity.
An NPS (Net Promote Score) Score is a measure that gives the percentage of customers of any brand that are likely to recommend a brand, product or service to others. The score is given from -100 to +100 and is ranked on the insight from asking customers how likely they are to recommend on a 1-10 scale; on a rolling basis to allow for the results of improvements, market fluctuations or brand changes. Those who rate 9-10/10 are considered Promoters of a brand, those who rate 7-8/10 are considered Passives, and those who rate 6 or under/10 are considered Detractors.
Overall, an NPS score from -100-0 is graded as ‘needs improvement’ (poor), 0-30 ‘good’ (satisfactory), 30-70 ‘great’ (brilliant) and 70-100 ‘excellent’ (outstanding). Businesses should work on a continual basis to improve their score and sustain their measures in the ‘excellent’ parameters.
To obtain an NPS score, the necessary question must be sent out – most commonly, through customer surveys. Feefo’s customer survey functionality includes NPS questions along with a variety of other customer feedback.
A customer engagement platform is any platform on which customers interact with a brand – online or offline. The most common examples include:
• Email marketing campaigns
• Loyalty programs
• Studies and PR campaigns
• YouTube channels
• Social media networks
These platforms can be used twofold; both by the brand to push out communications and by the customer to interact with the brand; but businesses should also maintain customer engagement channels whereby the customer instigates contact first, such as helplines, email inboxes and chat functions. These tend to serve slightly different (often problem-based) purposes, but are still valuable communication and customer engagement channels, and should be treated as such.
At present, video content is one of the most popular methods of the former, as it’s a great method for quick and easily consumable information sharing and can be condensed and optimised for a variety of platforms.
Customer engagement strategies vary from company to company, niche to niche, and audience to audience. However, if you’re looking for customer engagement ideas to start with and build from, Feefo recommends starting with a customer survey.
Customer surveys can be run in a myriad of different ways to extract information and encourage engagement from customers so that businesses are able to tangibly identify customer preferences. The data received from customer survey responses can be aggregated to deduce workable actions and objectives. Of course, too much data can be overwhelming, but a selectively targeted and carefully worded customer survey can specifically uncover who customers are, what platforms they’re using, what expectations they have from business engagements and how they’d best like to engage with them. From here, a customer engagement strategy can take shape that is not just tailored to the brand and how it works but also to the target customer; whether they are a potential or existing customer.
Customer engagement as an ever evolving and continuous tool is another way that brands can put the customer at the heart of everything they do; and even better, surprise and delight them with interactions and engagements that are memorable and valuable.
Net Promoter® and NPS® are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.
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