Engaging your best customers is critical in building and maintaining loyalty in today’s world. To make sure customers have positive experiences throughout their journey, companies need to deliver a seamless and engaging customer experience that is relevant and personalized. Customer engagement platforms were designed to meet this challenge, but do they really accomplish this objective?
A customer engagement platform is intended to be the one technology to optimize every touchpoint a consumer has with your brand throughout the entire customer lifecycle. These touchpoints are often across channels including social media, your website, ads and more. This is important because you want to understand your customers’ motivations, track metrics and optimize conversions. And you want to build trust over time, which leads to greater engagement.
Despite the promises, many customer engagement tools are unable to create a 360-degree view of your customers – from their initial awareness, conversion and nurture to sales and customer service. Nor are customer engagement platforms capable of providing true 1:1 personalization.
Customer engagement technology is a broad term covering everything from sales tools like customer relationship management (CRM) software to social media tools for scheduling and listening to customer sentiment. They share a common theme of helping businesses manage, foster or increase customer engagement.
With the digital transformation and people going online, customer engagement software is more important than ever. Businesses can use this software to map their customers’ journeys, as well as identify and meet their demands at every touch point. But not all customer engagement software is created equal. Some may focus on a specific touchpoint, like social media, the website or marketing efforts; while others are designed for multichannel engagement, or addressing the different stages of the customer journey.
Finding the right tools to engage customers is critical. The most engaged customers are the ones who will become your brand ambassadors. More importantly, they’re your most profitable customers, which fuel the most vital business outcomes: increasing sales, growing revenue and improving customer lifetime value (LTV).
Gallup noted that "companies that solve for engagement move the needle on productivity, revenue, customer ratings and share of wallet two to three times more than if they only solve for satisfaction." In fact, a fully engaged customer represents a 23% premium in share of wallet, profitability, revenue and relationship growth over the average customer, according to Gallup.
Customer engagement platforms can offer a number of features that help manage interactions with your customers, including:
There are several types of tools that you can use as part of your customer engagement strategy. One tool, CRM software, was designed to bridge marketing, sales and customer support, providing a solution for collecting and storing customer information. This software typically provides access to contact details and history, if they are account holders or have a special status, and purchase history, across various channels, to name a few. With this information, CRM software can help address lead identification and customer retention, as well as assessing results of marketing campaigns.
Live chat software helps engage customers and prospects in real-time as they interact with the company's website. Having this option enables website customers to ask questions about products, reduces the likelihood of abandoned shopping carts, and reduces the amount of incoming calls and emails to contact centers. More companies also are using artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled chatbots to automate live chat for basic inquiries.
Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives, and is playing an increasingly important role in customer engagement, too. Social media software typically provides a central dashboard where companies can engage with customers, and track how customers are engaging with their brands. This software enables management of multiple platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Twitter, from a single dashboard. Social media software can also include social listening tools, which help companies gain an understanding of how consumers feel about their brands and respond in real time to comments.
Because customers are likely to use a variety of means to engage with your company, you'll need some kind of multichannel or omnichannel software. These tools allow you to reach customers, whether they're on their phones, tablets or computers, or if they’re more reliant on the web, an app or social when engaging with your brand. By bringing this together across all of these channels, you have an opportunity to gain a more complete picture of the customer interactions, which will make you more efficient and improve your customers’ experiences.
Another solution that leverages the multichannel approach are marketing personalization tools. These bring together a variety of marketing solutions that address email, mobile, social media, search and analytics. With marketing personalization tools, you can map the customer journey and gain a better understanding about the key touchpoints where you can most effectively engage with them. They also help you determine how campaigns perform, and offer insights to adapt them to drive more sales, greater revenue or a stronger customer lifetime value.
Many of these tools can work together and complement each other in helping you understand the needs of your customers, how they’re interacting with your products and services, their purchasing patterns and what they’re saying over their preferred social channels. However, these tools fall short in delivering 1:1 personalization. A patchwork of tools makes it challenging to get a holistic view of individual customers, so you can better understand their wants and needs, what incents them to action and engage with them at exactly the right time and right place to deliver an optimal customer experience that leads to greater revenue, more sales and a stronger customer LTV.
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