For several years now, there has been a major push for more customer engagement in the retail and restaurant industries. The reason for this is two-fold: bigger returns and a better customer experience. Consumers spend more on brands they love and remain loyal over longer periods of time.
To understand customer engagement, you need to know what it means. The best place to start is with a general definition:
a wide-range of activities that customers can choose from when they want to interact with a brand.
Businesses need to do more than make themselves visible. They need to make themselves available to new and repeat customers. That’s why they need to understand the different levels of engagement, which will provide a way for their customers to feel more comfortable when interacting with them.
Basic Levels of Engagement
One of the best ways to understand how customer engagement works is to look at the levels of interaction. Activities that engage with customers will add more nuance to their experience. These activities build a deeper, emotional connection at every level of the customer’s journey—from discovering a new brand to advocating for it. Here are the basic levels of engagement, starting from the initial point of contact all the way to a brand advocate.
Being visible allows potential customers to find you. However, just because they know your business exists doesn’t mean they are interested. At this level of discovery, more needs to be done than simply advertising. You need to capture attention and build interest. Engagement at this level requires emotionally-driven messages, especially on social media platforms.
Most consumers do their research online prior to committing their time and money. They also ask family and friends about new and interesting brands. It’s about making them comfortable to go to the next step. Engagement at this level requires answering a lot of questions. Websites filled with information are often the key to bringing new customers into your store.
Value propositions are really important at this level, as well as customer service and expertise. Customers are ready to engage in more personal ways. They will also be willing to share what they like about your store and what needs to be improved. To engage more with customers at this level, use surveys and create special events to provide more ways to interact on a personal level.
At this stage, customers take pride in being associated with your brand. They have ownership and feel empowered. These are repeat customers that have frequent interactions with your brand, so they can also offer great input on new products and services. The best way to engage with customers at this level is through a loyalty program. These are easy to implement and maintain that frequent touch needed to keep them engaged.
The ultimate goal of customer engagement is for your customers to become passionate about your brand. Advocates are ambassadors, which means that they will even volunteer their time to extend your reach. They become an extension of your sales team. Plus, their word-of-mouth advertising is best you’ll ever find and can’t be replicated through any gimmick or campaign. At this level, simply provide them with the tools, such as referral bonuses and discounts for new customers, to continue to advocate your brand.
Make a Plan
Customer engagement needs a strategic plan, so you can greet new customers while maintaining a relationship with loyal ones. These activities will have an impact at every level. The returns will be quick during the discovery and research levels, but it takes time to make advocates. So be patient and stick to your plan.
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