Publication – The Economic Times
How to accelerate business growth and enhance profitability through Digital Customer Engagement
Customer engagement is a strategy for establishing, maintaining, and strengthening relationships with customers. Engaged customers become brand advocates, provide useful feedback, and are part of the product innovation. While customers are first drawn to high-quality products, customer experience and service are what keep them coming back. The sustained high-quality interaction creates a latent capital that yields enormous dividends for the business’s growth. A comprehensive and well-planned customer interaction strategy can help you move customers more quickly through the sales funnel while also providing a favorable brand experience. Technology can enable such integrated and cohesive interactions allowing digitisation of customer engagement.
Customer engagement must be a critical part of any organization’s strategy, especially as today’s businesses need to innovate rapidly to address changing customer needs and preferences. Businesses have to evolve with the customer, as well as aid them. Given that customer loyalty is increasingly value-driven and that switching has become much easier, companies must connect and identify with their customer in much deeper ways.
Well-designed customer interactions make brands more desirable and provide deeper insights into existing and new customers. These insights can inform marketing decisions like strategy and content production, as well as sales processes like messaging, outreach, and need alignment.
Digitisation of customer experience builds on a modern customer interaction cycle. Customer engagement solutioning begins with brand discovery and connection and extends through service, feedback and loyalty.
Identifying strongly with the target audience is an important component of customer value. Understanding the audience, their preferences, their values, the causes they support — all are important. For instance, businesses need to be tuned to the social media, electronic and other activities of their target audience; leverage the right influencers and build a digital positioning and messaging which responds to these events and activities in real-time. These facilitate a positive brand discovery. Such digital information flows should inform how businesses connect with their customers, leading to more purposeful and friction-free interactions.
Digitisation can ensure that the customer experience improves and that businesses gain useful insights from it.
It should create a fluid and straightforward physical and digital transaction experience.
With digitisation, businesses can also ensure faster delivery, a better after-sales service and serve their returning customers better, creating brand loyalty and a richer customer base, which in turn lead to account and business growth.
An insights driven operation not only provides better experience, but also is more efficient, as better logistics, work management, value chain management — all feed off it.
A furniture company, for example, may extensively utilise the demographics as well as preference information derived from social media and influencers. This will enable them to have better customer insights before discovery leading to enhanced their retail customer experience, both online and offline. Enabling a better product and business experience, by combining the experience of physical stores and the ease of an online transaction.
This streamlined experience is not only limited to the first transaction. Returning customers can get better deals and options based on their previous purchases and can get better after-sales support and marketing updates with better marketing, thanks to the customer database.
The key technologies enabling customer engagement digitization thus include:
- Digital presence (web, mobile, social media)
- Customer data platform
- Marketing automation
- Sales process management
- Service and support management, including field services and customer loyalty management.
These components, if integrated, can deliver much more effective customer engagement. A successful digitisation of customer engagement, thus has these characteristics:
Integrated customer journey: Customer interactions and experiences flow through multiple stages, agents and purposes. Customer engagement happens when the customer gets a unified, consistent and harmonious experience throughout these stages.
Personalised customer experience: Customers expect businesses to understand their individual interests and preferences and to interact with them as individuals rather than customer types or segments. A personalised customer experience enables this by delivering individualized messaging, offers, and products to each individual driven by insights based on the customer’s profile, purchase trends, service needs, feedback (on social media or otherwise) etc. In this manner, customer insights drive customer experience.
True omni-channel experience: This happens when the interaction of the customer with the business is seamless regardless of the channel—whether physical, call center, service agent, app, social media or web — with unnoticed handoff and continuity. The overall customer experience should be uncompromised and is consistent throughout.
A comprehensive customer interaction strategy, incorporating digitization with focus on customer engagement, can accelerate business growth and enhance profitability. Digitisation, done well, creates customer loyalty, streamlines business operations, and reduces customer acquisition costs.