Foster Customer Engagement: 5 Ways to Build Better Customer Relationships

Customer engagement is a critical metric for companies to consider. Here's how to increase your customer engagement this year.

Customer engagement can often be the way to differentiate your business. According to Gallup, just one in two customers feels engaged at any one time. As a result, it's important to find ways to connect customers to your brand, get them excited about your product or service and ensure they feel appreciated. Here are five different strategies to increase engagement today.

1. Use a System to Poll Customers and Address At-Risk Accounts

Customer engagement often starts with your at-risk accounts. However, it can be challenging to identify those. One simple approach is to use Net Promoter Score, which asks customers just a few questions about their relationship to your business. From there, you can segment customers into categories as happy, average or at risk. It's possible to implement a targeted campaign to reach out to the unhappy customers, solve ongoing issues and create more value to ensure a long-term relationship.

2. Have a Dedicated Customer Success Position

Many small businesses are allocating a role — or a percentage of a person's time ? to customer success. This role is often within the customer service department, and involves proactively identifying and addressing customer problems. For example, a customer success agent might check in advance on the status of packages in transit and contact customers or the shipper if there appears to be a problem with delivery. Customer success agents take initiative to get customers what they're looking for.

3. Use Social Media to Deepen Connections and Provide Value

Social media isn't just a channel to post company news and share motivational quotes. The companies that are most successful at engaging employees are using social media as a channel to build relationships and deliver value. They're focused on:

  • Asking questions, soliciting feedback and having active conversations.
  • Sharing customer content when it's relevant to the brand and responding to brand mentions, so the customer base feels heard.
  • Offering high-value bonuses, discounts and exclusive content.
  • Troubleshooting issues and providing basic customer service when needed.

4. Create a Loyalty Program

Do your long-term and loyal customers get recognition and benefits? For many companies, creating a loyalty program is a smart way to provide that. In some cases, these programs are sophisticated ? such as bonus miles for purchases made on credit cards. However, it can be as simple as a barber offering a program where "the 11th haircut is free." Deliver great service that keeps your customers coming back for more, and find ways to reward them for that loyalty.

5. Explore Different Communication Channels

Engagement is all about communications. Businesses need a plan that delivers communications in a way your customers want. Some audiences are all digital; others would love the chance to get together for local events. Options to consider include launching a regular customer newsletter, exploring video chats for customer service and launching a series of in-person events that let customers gather around subjects that interest them. A brewery might offer a beer tasting night, for example, while a graphic design firm might bring in guest speakers who talk about different aspects of digital marketing. Many companies are also experimenting with increasing post-sales purchases ? a simple call to ask how things are going can let customers know they're appreciated even after they click the buy button.

There's nothing more important than customer engagement to keep buyers happy. Experiment with communication, use data and find innovative tools and strategies to understand needs and deliver value throughout the customer relationship.