“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption on work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider to our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him… He is doing us a favour by giving us the opportunity to do it.”
- Kenneth B. Elliott, VP in Charge of Sales, Studebaker Corporation, 1941 (Note: some sources claim that this quote is from peace-seeking activist Mahatma Gandhi – that can’t be right, surely. But, whomever really was the original speaker of these words, I think we can all agree that they are sagacious.)
In the days when the above quote was uttered, there was no such thing as the internet, let alone social media. However, the importance of customer service was equally as imperative then as it is now.
Word-of-mouth marketing is indeed an age-old story. Business owners have always known that the second a customer steps back outside the store, they are free to share their experiences – both good and bad.
Today, no matter if you’ve got a physical store, an ecommerce site or both, your customers reside online. They are members of social networking communities that contain millions of users. Any experience shared with these communities, therefore, has massive impact-potential on your future sales – so those experiences need to be good ones.
From Customer Service to Customer Engagement
And this is where the distinction between customer service and customer engagement comes into play.
Customer service is all about providing due attention at the point of sale, or during the moments when the customer is actively engaging with your business.
Customer engagement, on the other hand, is ongoing. Customer engagement is about fostering all those connections that you have in between customer visits – and social media provides ample opportunity to do so.
Customer engagement requires a business to learn more about each customer beyond the transactions that they make. It means delivering personalised and useful content to your customers in order to extend the engagement time with your brand.
In short, customer engagement means building and nurturing relationships online over time.
3 Reasons Why Customer Engagement Counts
Customer engagement helps to grow your business. That’s why it counts.
1- Acquiring New Customers Costs More the Retaining Existing Ones
How much more? Well, according to Invesp, five times more – that’s how much.
What’s more, Marketing Metrics tells us that the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%, whilst the probability of selling to a new prospect is just 5-20%.
Engaging your existing customers online, therefore, is vital, for these are the people who have been good enough to give you their business already. Focus on targeting these guys and gals with interesting content in between purchases and they are far more likely to come back for more.
2- They Can Always Go Elsewhere
Today, no business holds a monopoly. If you aren’t acting on your customers’ expressed needs, then there is a competitor out there who will more than happy to pick up the slack.
Customer engagement means listening to those who do business with you. It means actively seeking out discussions where your brand is mentioned online and addressing as many pain-points your customers are expressing as possible. If this means that you need to add additional services or improve existing ones, then that’s what you’re going to have to do.
3- Bad News Travels Fast
Negative customer feedback travels a lot faster than positive feedback. As mentioned earlier, word-of-mouth marketing these days takes place primarily online, and so managing and even pre-empting any negative review that you may receive online can make all the difference to how you are viewed by larger swathes of the online community.
The good news, however, is that feedbacklite.com reports that 51% of people who do write a negative review will react positively again towards your brand if you address their issues. The lesson, then, is not to bury your head in the sand. Engage your customers even when they have grievances and your business will benefit.
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