Engagement at the heart of customer relations
Customer relations creating engagement
Motivating your customers without compensating them is not easy. Yet their engagement brings a multitude of benefits: they can become brand ambassadors and encourage competition for sales, or become involved in a brand community and carry out peer to peer customer support, free of charge. Moreover, the most engaged customers are able to participate in the design of tomorrow’s products, through participative innovation.
On the same basis, the e-reputation of customers who are brand ambassadors, fans or super fans plays a part in the development of Brand Equity in enhancing the brand image. They have a massive impact on direct sales by the increase of the average basket and on indirect sales as a result of peer recommendation.
All these factors make the strategies and tools of customer commitment essential. But how do we value and develop the motivation of customers, along with their brand loyalty and engagement?
Making customers feel valued
Brands have to ensure that customers or fans are motivated to make a lasting commitment, to take part in the brand’s development, improve its processes, and help it to innovate.In order to achieve this, companies have to rely on a system of values, an organisation and teams that focus on the customers, thus reinforcing a feeling of belonging.
That is why brands must increase the involvement of customers and value their contributions, especially on digital community platforms, but also across all social media where they have a presence.
If this is done in a systematic way, for the long-term and cross channel, customers will become true ambassadors of the brand, without receiving a salary, yet retaining their freedom of expression.
What are the key success factors for engagement?
Academic research, as carried out by eminent researchers such as Brodie (2011), has shone a light on the factors for customer engagement, in particular online with social media and brand communities.
The first factor according to Brodie (2011) is to help fans to share their experiences online, thus to express themselves, publish, post, demonstrate and share their expertise. Then the second factor is to let the fans of the brand or customers teach others or learn from others. Experts are then able to give their opinions on online product sheets, like Darty, or through a community (Sosh).
After that, super fans like to find out information, for their own benefit but also for others. Experts share their tips and tricks, while newbies benefit from peer advice like, for instance, the Sosh community. Engaged customers are also aware they can co-develop products or services, such as members of CVous, the virtual community of Casino, which brings consumers together.
Moreover the social nature of online media encourages the creation or development of relationships between peers, consumers, customers or potential customers. Links form on social media and sometimes carry over to the real world.
Furthermore, the most engaged customers enjoy the role of ambassador, if given the opportunity by the brand, either within a dedicated community, or on consumer advice websites, or social networks.
Customer service centres play a central role in customer commitment
From now on, providers of outsourcing services and customer service centres have a duty to give precedence to those same factors which boost engagement by giving increased voice to the customer, by valuing customer-experts, by supporting novices and by developing participative innovation.
If not, customers may disengage and custom will increasingly be lost. In consequence, customer service centres are at the forefront in shifting brands towards Customer Centricity, towards cross channel communication and they must show an example to advertisers on the subject of Customer Engagement.