On the one hand, you’ve got a few seconds to engage your customers; on the other, you’ve got to engage them over a lifetime.
Supposedly we now have an eight second attention span, a second lower than the notoriously distracted goldfish; and with endless consumer choices, moving targets and shifting sentiment, we have to work even harder to keep the love that we have.
It’s a difficult challenge, one that retailers face every day.
But one study after another has confirmed that customers who are more engaged with us, stay and spend more. So being focussed on engagement makes absolute sense.
Customer engagement – the new gold
Engagement can seem quite complex when you first wade into the pool of customer loyalty statistics and techniques.
On average though, the majority of consumers say loyalty is driven by likeability. Trust and consistency are also important and personalisation is a way to get it.
Brands need to recognise that ‘customer’ is not a department that a team owns, or a function on an organisation chart – it’s a mindset – that needs to be embedded across the business – from business strategy all the way to the shop floor.
True ‘customer intimacy’ means knowing the ins and outs of each specific customer –
- Why they need your product – if it’s discretionary, why are they coming to you rather than your competitor?
- Why they like it – is it the brand values, quality, availability, packaging, value adds?
- What they like about it – including what parts of your offering they prefer, if you have a large range.
- How they consume it – that’s not just about the lifecycle, for example, do they start with a sampler and build to favourites. We also need to know about their instore versus online behaviour.
How do you know?
Ask them. Directly. But, you need to read between the lines – the answers they leave behind are in their data, each time they engage with you.
The big brand mistake – ‘what’s your name again?’
Imagine if every time you went to brunch with a group of casual friends one of them asked, what’s your name (again)?
After a while, it would become quite frustrating. You would assume, probably correctly, that the person didn’t really care about you. You would feel less valued and likely become disengaged, sit somewhere else or ignore them next time around.
Brands do this a lot.
I think brands that treat every customer as if they’re any other customer are making a big mistake.
In this day and age there are countless tools that help customise and personalise communication. Or go a step further and show customers, rather than tell them, that you value them.
- Be personal. If you send out electronic direct mail (EDM), use a first name.
- Be friendly. Speak to them, don’t write at them. We know naturally how to interact with friends, yet somehow freeze up, add a layer of risk aversion, become corporate and distant when addressing customers.
- Respond to them. Half of customers would take their business to a competitor within a day of experiencing poor customer service. People want good, fast customer service and are willing to spend anywhere from 3% to 20% more on items from a business that engages with them through Twitter.
- Make them special. Do you have VIP nights for loyal customers? Do you have ways to say thank you to people who love you rather than putting all your time and energy into acquiring new clients? Think about the message you send when new clients get the special offers, the premium queues. Once a provider loses a customer, 68% of consumers will not go back!
5 tips for brands
- Know your purpose. If you know what problem you are trying to solve, you know what customers you will acquire and the kinds of team you need to serve them. It sounds like business 101 but a lack of clarity leads all sorts of brand chaos.
- Know your customer intimately. Segment your customer by whatever dimensions you need to get respectfully personal.
- Be where your customer is. If most of your customers visit your store on a Saturday at 10am then so should you. Spend a day on the floor. Be a mystery shopper, rather than outsourcing your mystery shopping.
- Invest in always-on training. Training must be at heart of your business. Staff should know your product inside out. You should be able to anticipate and answer every customer question, in store or online and in interesting ways, like using small, social videos on your website.
- Empower your teams to provide solutions. Have team meetings. Set frameworks without dictating minutia so you can let staff show initiative and personality. Make service about living your brand values, rather than rigid rules. Be authentic.