It’s been more than a year since the COVID spread across the world and we still haven’t recovered. Creating an effective customer engagement strategy is a big challenge for many businesses that are trying to regain their strength. In fact, a recent survey by Esendex shows that 1 in 3 businesses believe that customer engagement is their biggest challenge right now.
The same survey also indicates that about 24% of businesses are facing reduced demand for their products or services. These businesses need to come up with an exceptional customer engagement plan to re-engage their customers. On the other hand, companies that have been enjoying high demand must work hard to ensure continued customer interest by executing customer engagement marketing.
There has never been a more critical time to reevaluate your user engagement strategy, in simpler words. It can improve how your company connects with its customers. In this article, you’ll find out what you can do to create an effective client engagement strategy or overhaul an existing one, thus remaining competitive and getting a head start on the post-pandemic recovery process.
1. Improve your digital processes
The possibility of a high number of customers showing up in brick-and-mortar stores is low. That's why e-commerce is all geared up to be the major revenue channel for most retailers. Many customers are already accustomed to the speed and convenience offered by online shopping. What’s more is that their expectations are ever-increasing as well. Even for businesses that want to continue operating their physical stores, certain adaptations have to be made.
For instance, consider the following:
- Many retailers are incorporating the online to offline approach, allowing their customers to purchase from their e-commerce store and pick up their orders at physical stores.
- Companies have to adhere to the government's guidelines regarding social distancing, and many businesses now need to incorporate appointments. A mobile-friendly experience enabling your customers to easily book appointments is now a necessity to be able to serve the maximum number of clients safely.
- A mobile-friendly experience also enables you to target a much larger audience as opposed to your brick-and-mortar store!
- You should also consider improving your checkout process thus making it easier for your customers to complete their orders.
At the end of the day, you have to improve your digital processes to continue to successfully engage with your customers.
2. You need to invest in your shipping process
When it comes to the customer engagement plan, your delivery or shipping process must be seamless. The pandemic has resulted in an increase in the number of customers shopping online. The key takeaway is to create a shipping process that can cater to the increasing number of consumers.
Your customer engagement strategy should focus on ensuring that you're offering a higher number of delivery slots along with faster deliveries. In a nutshell, you should take a page out of Amazon's book when it comes to shipping. Can you increase the number of your delivery drivers? Automate your shipping processes? Improve the processes in your warehouses? Can you partner up with more carriers to ensure faster and cost-effective deliveries?
Answering all of these questions will help you develop ways to improve your fulfillment process, thus improving your overall customer engagement strategy.
3. Communication is crucial
Regardless of how you’re shaping your user engagement strategy, effectively and regularly communicating with your customers is a crucial factor if you want it to be successful. A successful user engagement strategy will help you in forming a customer-focused business that puts your customers first, helping you to nurture growth and customer loyalty.
The communication quality will depend on your tone, message, and the channel(s) you're using to communicate. It is also important to understand that what used to work for your business before may not be the best way to go about things anymore. For instance, if you run a physical store, you can no longer just ignore online channels for communication and marketing and continue to focus on physical flyers and face-to-face contact. During such uncertain times, you must provide your potential customers an opportunity to reach you online, otherwise, it can be truly damaging to your business.
When it comes to customer-facing communication, it is strongly recommended that you opt for omnichannel communication. Simply put, you need to be where your customers are rather than trying to bring them to a channel that is convenient to you (for example, email and nothing else). You should be available via different social media platforms, through chat on your website, phones, social media, and even text messages.
Omnichannel marketing has become even more important now, during this pandemic, since it uses a combination of offline and online channels thus ensuring visibility and continuous communication. Besides varying between physical and online stores, shoppers have also started using different channels to do their research, compare prices, and so on, which encouraged companies to shift focus to the platforms they might have not considered before, like blog, video content, or paid social.
By using omnichannel communication or marketing, you can better engage with your customers, create new connections and maintain existing customer relationships, not to mention higher chances of winning against your e-commerce competition.
4. Give your customers incentives
When it comes to customer engagement strategy, simply offering them products or services will not suffice. You need to sweeten the deal, per se. Depending on a specific goal you want to achieve, this can help you land more reviews, improve customer loyalty, increase the number of repeat purchases, and referrals. How do you do that? Incentivize the idea of shopping with you!
Let’s take loyalty programs, for instance. Loyalty programs might offer your customers free delivery vouchers or discounts to encourage a repeat purchase. You can greatly improve it further by attaching a timeline to these vouchers and discounts. For example, 'if you buy from us within the next two weeks, there will not be any delivery charges.'
As many businesses have shifted and still continue to shift online, e-commerce competition is becoming more intense every single day. Customers are always looking for better options and finding better options is quite easy when you’re browsing online. Offering incentives that provide value can be a great way to motivate your customers to come back to your store rather than choosing your competitors over you. Your customer engagement strategy should take full advantage of it to ensure success.
5. Improve your customer service
Customer service is one of the most important factors when it comes to running an e-commerce store. We've already talked about how online purchases are increasing; this means that your customer service team already has its hands full. How do you improve it?
You can start by incorporating customer service apps that can help you connect with your customers effectively. For instance, are you using a help desk ticketing system? The help desk ticketing system is an important tool for your e-commerce store since it allows you to cater to your customers' queries systematically.
With consumers moving to the e-commerce market, the need for effective communication has increased exponentially. People now prefer to purchase from the comfort of their couch and require reasonable assurance and answers to their queries before they make the purchase - even after the purchase. The need for a multi-faceted and robust support tool is therefore quite apparent.
You can craft an exceptionally effective customer engagement strategy by incorporating the tips mentioned above. If you already have an existing customer engagement plan, then you can use these tips to enhance it even more. Furthermore, kindly take note of the underlying theme in all of these tips: communication. Whether you're sending your customers tailored messages, connecting with them through various channels, or improving your shipping process, the customer-facing communication should be effective, omnichannel-based, and must be proactively taking place.
As the businesses try to recover from the pandemic, you need to realize that the more you communicate with your customers, the better you will perform. Let 2021 be the year that your business comes back from the COVID-19 and adapts to the new normal!