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Ensuring that your customers are happy and loyal is one of the most important factors to consider when running a business. Satisfied and engaged customers are more likely to return, as well as recommend your business to a friend or colleague.
However, keeping customers satisfied isn’t as straightforward as it once may have been. People expect a lot more from businesses, with 24/7 customer care a standard for many customers. And, if you can’t keep them happy, they can broadcast it on social media.
So, how can you keep customers engaging with your business in a positive way? A great starting point is customer engagement software. Let’s look at why customer engagement software is important for your business, and how to choose the right one for you.
What is Customer Engagement?
Simply put, customer engagement refers to the interaction between a customer and a business. It encompasses all forms of communication between the company and its customers. Customer engagement can take many forms, whether customers are talking to you on your livechat or scrolling through your Instagram and giving your posts a ‘like’ – it’s all about the way in which they communicate with your brand.
There are various features of customer engagement software that are designed to make it easier to communicate with customers. Good customer engagement software provides you with the right tools to stay in touch with customers across multiple channels. That’s because nowadays, consumers don’t just want to pick up the phone – they want to email, SMS, chat, and comment. Ideally, you want an omnichannel approach to ensure a seamless cross-platform experience.
One of the main reasons customers leave a company is that they don’t feel cared about. By focusing your attention on customer engagement and relationship building, you can avoid this cause of churn and build a loyal, happy customer base.
Customer Engagement vs. Customer Experience
Although customer engagement and customer experience both involve the customer’s interactions with the brand, the two are actually very different.
Customer experience involves how the customer feels about their time with the business as a whole. This includes everything from singular transactions to their overall viewpoint of the company. Their interactions with each department and member of staff helps to contribute to their experience.
It could be said that the customer experience is the deciding factor as to whether they become a repeat customer and you improve your customer retention, or whether they look for similar services with competitors. You can measure the customer experience with the NPS metric (net promoter score).
Customer engagement, on the other hand, is quite often driven by the customer. This is the way in which they communicate with the brand, and how the brand responds. For instance, when they send an email to the business are they met with a speedy reply from a human? Or generic automated messaging that lets them know they’ll have an answer in 5 working days? This can have a huge impact on customer loyalty.
Customer engagement also includes how they interact with your brand on other mediums, such as likes and comments on social media. Customers are choosing to interact with your brand, and the way in which you respond to this interaction can make a world of difference in their perception of the company. This mutually beneficial relationship is at the heart of why businesses invest in great customer engagement software.
Both customer experience and customer engagement go hand-in-hand. If the customer has a complaint and gets exceptional customer service from your contact centre, they might leave a positive comment on your facebook page or a great review on Google. This helps to build your reputation and can work to entice new customers to the business. Plus, as the customer had a positive experience with the business, they are likely to return.
As the graph above demonstrates, in one study 74% of customers said their experience with a business impacts their willingness to be loyal. So, if every interaction with your business is positive for them, why should they look anywhere else?
What is Customer Engagement Software?
Customer engagement software is the tool behind effectively communicating with customers, anytime, anywhere. It means you can connect with customers at every touchpoint they could encounter with the business. Not only this, but it stores useful customer information and tracks your audience so you know how to better serve them each time.
Most customer engagement software also comes with analytics and actionable insight capabilities, allowing you to look at previous customer interactions and learn ways in which to improve communication for next time.
Such platforms allow a business to be directly involved with the customer journey, staying present and available throughout, whenever they are needed. From the awareness at the start of the customer sales funnel right through to the end sale and repeat custom, customer engagement tools can help a business to provide the best customer care in the process.
This software typically includes features that can enhance the relationship between customers and the business. It can also integrate with your CRM (customer relationship management) system to assist agents in providing personalised communication with the customer. Customer engagement software can also integrate with contact centre software, building a strong tool to improve future connections.
Benefits of Customer Engagement Software
87% of businesses say that exceptional customer experience is extremely important to their organisation. With this in mind, reliable customer engagement software can help to improve the user experience and overall impression of the business. Here are some of the key benefits of customer engagement software:
As we’ve seen, customer experience is a crucial element of the opinion a customer may form about your business. A customer is almost just as likely to complain about a bad experience with the business as they are a good one.
When a brand meets (or exceeds) customer expectations, they are likely to increase customer satisfaction. If not, they can expect to hear about their experience through social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, on popular review sites like Yelp, and also directly via email or phone call.
Given that customer engagement revolves around communication with the customer, it is to be expected that not all customer feedback will be good.
However, customer engagement software can help soften the blow, by ensuring any complaints are responded to quickly (and effectively!). This could be through replying to an email, a tweet, or even picking up the phone and speaking to customers directly about their experience.
Overall, this can help businesses and customers reach a solution to any issues that may arise. If customers feel like their matter has been dealt with effectively, they may be likely to still return in the future. In fact, customers who have their complaints resolved promptly have a purchase intention rate of 82%, meaning they are likely to repurchase from the business.
Customer self-service technology
It’s vital that businesses keep customers up-to-date with the company. Ensure your website is equipped with the latest information including all the ways in which they can contact you directly. It’s also important that you keep it relevant. For customers, there’s nothing worse than calling a phone number on your website and finding out it doesn’t lead them to the right department.
Self-service technology is a great way to help customers answer their own queries through guided information on your website, through live web chat, or with a chatbot. These automated functions allow customers to discover the information they need on their own, without the hassle of having to get in touch with an agent.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) are a great example of this. When information is easily accessible to the customer, your website visitors will leave feeling satisfied that their queries have been dealt with – and you’ll have less calls in your queue.
Internal knowledge bases can be incredibly useful for employees. Customer engagement software can even help you build one. With this, you can discover the most common problems customers are facing and ensure employees have easy access to solutions to help them. This up-to-date information about customer behaviour helps you to continuously improve with each customer interaction being better than the last.
An internal knowledge base can allow employees to do their jobs to the best of their ability. It typically includes information on the company, technical help, market research, the organisational structure, and more. It encourages the sharing of knowledge throughout the organisation, which also helps with communication and teamwork.
This all helps to paint a picture of customer behaviour, and can help with improving the service you provide. For instance, if you notice a high volume of customers are searching for a specific query, you can update your knowledge base with relevant information.
When customers self-serve and find the right information quickly and easily, it can leave them with a positive feeling about the brand. This all helps to encourage and nurture the ongoing customer relationship.
Features of a Customer Engagement Platform
So, what are the most important features of a customer engagement platform to look for when weighting up your options? Let’s take a look.
Personalisation can go far beyond calling a customer by their first name and sending them a discount code on their birthday. Sure, these extra touches can make them feel seen, but the real personalisation comes with continuous communication about their wants and needs.
By using customer engagement software that integrates with CRM systems and help desk software you can access customer information quickly and easily to allow you to deliver a personalised service. When customers see that you remember aspects of their last visit, and understand their needs, they are more likely to feel valued and stick around in the long run.
Customer engagement software is often delivered as a SaaS (software as a service) solution. This platform can be customised to best support your business needs, which in turn, can feel personal to your customer. For instance, to personalise your customer’s experience, why not create an onboarding survey for customers to fill in so you can find out more about them. Then, use this information in future to help with customised suggestions, such as “we think you might like…”.
Remote working has become a thing of the norm. In fact, one study found that 57% of people spent their time completely remote.
As a result, teams are always looking for ways to improve their communication, teamwork, and connection with colleagues. Good customer engagement software can help to keep the team connected, increasing overall productivity and business efficiency.
Though working remotely can come with challenges, investing in good software can make the process a breeze. And, when the marketing teams are connected and engaged, this can also benefit the customers. Popular business communication tools, and many customer engagement softwares can be integrated with customer engagement software to make remote working as easy as possible.
A customer engagement platform allows businesses to improve the quality of experiences they are able to offer the customer. Technology and marketing automation has made sure that businesses are now reachable through a number of communication channels. While this is useful, some customers still prefer to find information themselves as a time that is convenient for them.
Many customer engagement software platforms also include a customer-self service feature. Self-service portals can equip your customers with all the information they need for their next steps. They can access answers to their questions without having to pick up the phone and call the help desk. Customers leave satisfied, which can help to retain your customer base and drive business growth.
Easy to set up
Another key feature of a customer engagement platform is that it should be easy to set up. If you don’t have someone tech savvy in your team, it can be frustrating trying to implement new software. Not to mention training the rest of the employees and management on how to use it effectively.
By choosing easy to set up software, you’re making the transition to a customer engagement platform smoother. The sooner you can get everyone using the software correctly, the sooner you can start to improve customer engagement across the business!
Some customers have very little patience when it comes to interacting with businesses. They want an answer, and they want one fast. If a customer’s concerns aren’t addressed in a timely manner, they may be likely to abandon their translation.
Response time is crucial when it comes to customer communication. That’s why live chat software is a great option for businesses. It has become the most popular contact method for online customers.
The customer can use an on-site widget to be connected to a live agent in real-time, or even an automated chatbot who can deal with their concerns. Unlike sending an email or making a phone call, the result with live chat is almost instantaneous.
This helps to keep the customer satisfied, and customer engagement software plays a big role in this, as it helps to power the live chats and deliver an interactive customer support experience.
How to Choose the Right Customer Engagement Software for you
Not all customer engagement platforms are created equally. It is vital that you choose the best one to suit your business needs. Here are some factors to consider before you make your choice.
Many platforms for customer engagement are cloud-based. This just means that it’s hosted in the cloud and stored in remote servers. It allows for seamless connectivity between devices, no matter where your employees are based.
So, why opt for cloud-based customer engagement software? Well, it alleviates the responsibilities of maintenance, and all you need is a stable internet connection to access the customer data stored on the cloud.
Look out for how customisable your customer engagement software is. You want to provide the best possible experience for customers, so it’s important that you can change and adapt certain software features as you see fit.
What’s more, how can you customise it for the customer on the other end? What’s the customer view like? Can you send personalised notifications alerting them to offers? Can you send customised marketing campaigns like emails to a group of people that have viewed one product to encourage them to check out? Consider ways in which the software can be customised for both the support team working behind the scenes and the customer on the front-end.
This graph shows how important personalisation can be when it comes to the success of emails. When they’re personalised, rather than simple template emails, there is an 82% increase in open rate, plus a 58% increase in customer satisfaction.
Choose a platform that allows you to seamlessly integrate with your favourite existing customer service software. You shouldn’t have to abandon certain platforms you like to use to make way for a new one. They should be able to co-exist, and you can reap the benefits of both.
The most important thing to check it integrates with is your CRM software. If it doesn’t, you may face issues down the line when it comes to accessing customer data and implementing certain processes such as segmentation for email marketing.
Ensure you choose a customer engagement software platform that is easy to set up. If you can’t set it up by yourself, the software should at least provide support to guide you through the process from start to finish. The user experience should be a clean one, with dashboards for social media management built-in to the software.
Some software allows you to test out a demo to see if it will work for your business. This can be invaluable and saves having to commit fully to software you’ve not even been able to try.
Once you have decided which customer engagement software platform is the right one, be sure to compare pricing across the board and examine what features are included in each tier. If one platform is more expensive but comes with many more features than the other, then it could be beneficial to make the investment to ensure you’re choosing the best platform for your business.
Ask how scalable the software is. You are likely hoping to grow your business if you are investing in customer engagement software. That means that your chosen platform needs to grow with you and your changing workflow.
Are there various tiers offering more and more functionality as you grow? Ensure the platform is capable of handling the growth of your business and expanding to the pace of your business’ growth.
Security should be a crucial factor when choosing the best software for your business. Ensure the platform offers exceptional security measures which can be implemented across the software.
Technology such as MFA (multi-factor authentication) plus conditional access with this authentication should be applied to all users as standard. Compare your favourite platforms to see which offers the most superior security package.
The most important aspect to consider is what security is in place to protect customer data. As customers opt-in and hand over their data, they are trusting your business to keep it private. Choose software that fully complies with (and perhaps even goes above and beyond) customer data regulations.
When comparing customer engagement solutions, there are a number of factors to consider. Ensure you consult with your team to get an idea of what features would be most beneficial to them before you invest in your software. Remember the importance of customisation, scalability and security of the platform as you move forward and make the leap to customer engagement software.
Ring Central’s CRM integrations can make customer engagement a breeze and will help you scale up when the time comes. It allows you to merge the software you already use day-to-day (such as Salesforce, Zendesk, and Slack) into an all-in-one solution for your business. Get in touch today to find out more about customer engagement software that can benefit your organisation.
Originally published Mar 02, 2022