We all know that customer engagement (CX) is a necessary tool for success in the day-to-day business. But what is often overlooked is competitive advantage data-enabled organisations have in enabling customer-centric programs.

This article will go through why and how to start cultivating this culture and some key principles for making sure you get the most out of understanding your customers’ mindset and what interactions are more likely to influence customer behaviour.

Many businesses are in complete denial about how many customers they have. They will spout a number, but when asked how many have reached out and communicated or transacted with your business in the past 30 days, that number is often considerably less.

If you want to create active customer engagement, you need to be proactive and do things that will help your customers feel engaged or valued.

Often customers are not engaged because, sad to say, they forgot about you, possibly because you forgot about them.

Other times they are not engaged because they are receiving more communication from your competitors than you.

You can start worrying now.

So, what is CX?

In the simplest of terms, CX can be broken down into three distinct stages. Listen to the customer, learn contextually how best to communicate to their needs, respond accordingly. This is a repeating cycle, listen, learn, respond, listen, learn, respond. This is the CX cycle. Align this to their needs, respond at speed and remove any friction points.

Engagement, engagement, engagement.

We mentioned the benefits of this method in our recent article, ‘Gift customers an incredible onboarding experience.’ Value the customer, be responsive, and engage.

It isn’t that hard, but it requires patience, effort, and consideration. If you want higher customer engagement and improve customer satisfaction, then this is the model you should consider.

Organisations that fail to leverage this CX method will typically engage customers in one of the following ways.

  • No communication: leaving the customer to fend for themselves. Customers that have no active relationship (former customer) are often treated in this way.
  • All or nothing: By not segmenting customers, they communicate to everyone when the communication is only of value to a subsegment of the customer audience. So, it’s of benefit to some but irrelevant to most.
  • Non-Responsive: The business is not timely on communication, not dealing with poor customer experience events quickly or proactively, leading to a complaint and a poor customer satisfaction outcome.
  • Offer by saturation: Bombarding customers with an offer, after offer, after offer, on mass communication, SMS, or email hoping for a 1-2% conversion rate.

Watch the unsubscribe rate skyrocket.

If your business is susceptible to some or all these behaviours it may be time to take an honest look at your current business model and appreciate how customers communicate, their mindset, and your responsiveness to each interaction.

A Harvard Business Review article by Denise Lee Yohn, ‘6 ways to build a Customer-Centric Culture’, references that only 14% of marketers believe customer-centricity is a hallmark of their company.

What does data have to do with being customer-centric?

The problem with being customer-centric and ensuring each customer has a tailored experience requires understanding how each customer relates to your business. This is improbable to do manually unless you are a small operation with one-to-one customer interaction.

To scale CX, you need to leverage data, and you need to have a team that trusts the use of this data with each interaction; hence you need a data-enabled culture.

Here are what we consider the critical actions you need to take to improve customer engagement and build a customer-centric culture across your organisation.

  • Listen to your customer: The process of active listening will allow you to learn about your customers. You need to be listening for specific information pertaining to what they want and why they are making a purchasing decision or interacting with your business.This starts in the consideration stage all the way through the customer life cycle. Your customers give you all the information you need to provide greater service, offers, or understanding of their unique needs.

    Remember to capture all interaction data at every stage. You may not deem it as important for one customer, but this is invaluable information on the collective customer base.

  • Learn about your customer: Learning about your customer is where raw capture of customer data is transformed into insight and knowledge.Customer analysis enables businesses to identify their customers’ interactions and buying behaviour. This means knowing more about customer needs and understanding what they value.

    It is essential to understand that customer analysis is more than simply analyzing transactional data collected from CRM systems. This could include customer onboarding activity, customer complaints, channel events, emails, phone calls, and transactions.

    Businesses often overlook this critical step by ignoring customer insights and not learning about customer needs; they miss a golden opportunity to improve the customer experience and create actionable intelligence for their business.

    From customer segmentation to predictive modeling, leveraging customer data to derive intelligence can significantly improve your customer engagement process and reduce the customer churn rate.

  • Interact with your customer: Now that you listened and learned about the factors influencing customer behaviour, it is time to leverage that insight to initiate quality conversations with your customers tailored to their needs.This is where you can deploy your interactions with structured CRM practices, keeping in mind that processes relating to test and learn should be integrated as part of any communication deployment.

Active customer engagement can be as easy as sending an email asking for feedback, publishing blog posts and articles, or running contests to get followers to engage with your brand on social media. You can also upsell products by offering recommendations based on your customer’s purchase history.

This is how you will improve engagement over time.

If you want to provide your customers with exceptional service, you need to listen, try something new and engage in an honest and open dialogue. Because at the end of the day, if there is no quality engagement between both parties, there is no relationship.

And if there is no relationship, then there is no trust.

With no foundation of trust, your company will suffer the consequences; and those consequences will be a reduction in sales and profit margins caused by dormant or lost customers.

So, how good is your business at listening, learning, and interacting with customers?

To help you along, we have something for you. Entirely free.

This is our CDC-Testflight 5-minute self-assessment tool, helping you consider which day-to-day activities relating to listening, learning, and interacting with customers are not optimal. It also provides you with some thought starters on your culture of customers.

Give it a shot, and you will receive a detailed synopsis on what you could do to narrow in and improve your engagement with your customers.