Customer engagement is the connectivity between an external stakeholder and the organization. These exchanges happen online and offline and they have a notable effect on the overall customer experience. As a digital marketing company, we love the analytics piece behind these exchanges. What can be tactically executed should be measured, but there is still so much interpersonal communication that can’t be measured precisely. There are so many 1:1 exchanges that cannot be ignored.
People are unique.
If you’re in business, particularly in a client-facing capacity, you understand that no two people or two scenarios are ever exactly alike in a 1:1 exchange. While we can make general predictions and processes that follow those prescriptions through user segmentation and workflow automation, we cannot account for the responsibility that is incumbent on that salesperson, account or customer service rep.
Technology cannot stand alone.
While reports and data strengthen the basis for conversation, they do not define the success of the relationship in the eyes of either party. If you’re exclusively fact or data-based, you’re missing out on the great big wide world of gray area that’s called humanity.
People are fickle.
We all have our trigger points that allow connection in and deny inputs from breaching our mental and emotional walls. While marketers can monitor digital behavior and predict the outcomes based on activity, nuance is missing. Nuance is something that all great salespeople or customer reps get. They understand that behavior isn’t always at face-value. Data cannot decide this, but a simple 1:1 conversation can provide clarity quickly.
If you’re interested in strategies to boost your digital customer engagement, here are a few tips:
- Be obsessed. The GOATs (greatest of all-time) like Jeff Bezos and Gary Vaynerchuk will tell you that you should be obsessed with your customers. You should be emphatic about delivering first-rate customer experiences. Remember, every touchpoint is an opportunity to dazzle and impress. Touchpoints aren’t just email exchanges and phone calls, but also emotive social media reactions and case studies featuring customer service/produce success.
- Be on-brand. Take inventory of when and how you’re “showing up”. Engagement happens at every level. If you experience a fantastically informed email, but it’s closed with an email signature that you don’t recognize, you’re creating brand confusion. Show up consistently from an aesthetic and messaging standpoint.
- Use social sass. People love brands that are relatable. Humor (while it can be culturally relative) can be a unifier. Most brands want to be synonymous with positivity. Cheeky quick quips are good but know where the line should be toed and don’t alienate or offend your target audience.
- Get personal. We know that not every company can model the impressively complex algorithms of Netflix and Spotify, but you can do your part to make the customer experience feel tailored to your contact or account. For example, we have clients that use questionnaires to align their prospects and customers with the right resources. Or, leverage your CRM by using form fields like Birthdate to celebrate your customers when their date is due.
- Be helpful. Video can be so impactful. How-to’s and tips that are humanized by a point person or complex topics that are simplified by animations help to make information more consumable. In many instances, your product or services exist because it’s making someone else’s life easier, don’t raise that barrier to entry by mystifying things as inaccessible.
- Learn through listening. When done well, social media is a means to continue the conversation. The operative word being - conversation. It’s 2-way communication. Your posts and shares might initiate conversation, but if your responses (positive, negative, or indifference) can tell you a lot. But! What are you willing to do with that information? If the answer is nothing, and you’re unwilling to change- why engage in social media at all? Social media affords you the chance to remain top of mind, but also to actively listen.
If you’re looking to boost your 1:1 connection, here are some strategies for building rapport:
- Be yourself. Authenticity is key. Fake it ‘til you make it is an old school mentality and contextually doesn’t belong when you’re talking about what makes you, YOU. People respond to genuine connection, not a forced facade. If you’re funny- use humor to your advantage. If you’re a thorough researcher- use that to your advantage. If you’re naturally shy- own that trait and put it out there. Acknowledge and celebrate the similarity and differences in people and organizational culture and you’ll likely find common ground more quickly.
- Check your energy. Be mindful of what you’re putting out into the world. People can tell when you’re uncomfortable, or when you’re not open to a conversation or an idea. Think of the things that you can control about a setting. To an extent, you can align your appearance, non-verbal delivery, and your default conversation openers to be more inviting and engaging. It might be a Midwestern thing, but it’s difficult to be unkind or closed off to friendly energy.
- Demonstrate genuine interest. As humans, we love to hear about and talk about ourselves, our interests, accomplishments, and goals. The more genuine interest that you show, the more likely they’ll open up. Remember that people want to be validated and heard. Be sure that you’re actively listening and re-engaging on the topics nearest to them.
- Find commonality. As a more dominant personality type, I do not advise trying to bond with someone because they too are a parent. This is not a universal signal that “we are the same.” There’s a saying that people buy from people they like- and to some extent that is true. Perhaps more importantly though, people like to buy from people who think like them. This is where it’s helpful to have a background with DiSC profiles so that you can more quickly engage someone in the right manner.
- Be an active empath. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes always. Remember that they don’t do what you do every day. In many cases, they have a more limited product or service knowledge than you do. Forgive them for showing their frustration or asking the same question over and over again. Believe that they’re doing their best.
- Mirror, don’t mock. Matching and mirroring is a sales technique that can be quite effective; however, it’s more about pacing connectivity. This ensures that you’re letting the customer pick the speed of the relationship. If you have a highly analytical customer that will research everything on the market before s/he buys, there is no use in rushing that person. Make consciousness mutually agreed-upon next steps that afford them maximum comfort. Inversely, if you are a customer who’s super decisive, make sure that you’re creating an appropriate environment for them as well. In a more literal sense, matching and mirroring as a physical technique is best used sparingly to provide ease and equal footing for both parties in a meeting or negotiation. Again, be yourself people can see right through a bumbled matching and mirror attempt.
Data mining and reporting have their place, just remember it’s ineffective if it’s not punctuated with a human element. Curious about how your approach stacks up? Let’s chat.