15 Actionable Strategies to Increase Customer Engagement

Table of Contents

1. Gamify elements of your product or service
2. Leverage customer reviews to engage new and existing customers
3. Provide your customers with rewards in exchange for doing something
4. Work with your most engaged fans
5. Build an online community
6. Collaborate with customers
7. Use crowdsourcing to engage customers
8. Engage customers over multiple channels
9. Take advantage of omnichannel contact center and customer engagement technology
10. Explore new technologies that can help engage your customers better
11. Use data and analytics to improve customer engagement
12. Check up on your quiet customers
13. Give your customers a surprise
14. Make sure your sales/marketing team and on-boarding/product team are on the same page
15. Demonstrate corporate social responsibility

There are a lot of articles about customer engagement strategies and tactics, but a lot of the tips come off as abstract and tend to use buzzwords that sound smart but aren’t necessarily valuable.

After all, it is easy to say that you should personalize your approach to interacting with your customers. Actually knowing how to act on the advice is an entirely different matter.

What most of us need is an actionable starting point. We need a customer engagement strategy we can immediately implement so we can see its impact straightaway and have the ability to dig deeper in the long run.

That is why we published this article. Here are 15 customer engagement tactics that you can act on immediately (or at least, act on quickly), and which can serve as a jump-off point for your future customer engagement campaigns.

1. Gamify elements of your product or service

Gamification refers to the process of adding elements to your product or service that resembles gaming for consoles or mobile apps.

What are the benefits of gamifying elements of my product or service?

Who doesn’t love a good game? By gamifying some elements of your product or service, you are encouraging your customers to interact with you. Whether they are earning points or are leveling up, it is a fun addition to the overall product or customer experience.

How do I gamify my product or service?

There are so many ways to do this. Just think of a creative way to add a gaming element that will be fun to interact with. These include:

  • Creating actual mobile game apps to promote your product or service.
  • Making the purchasing process more game-like by adding avatars and progress bars.
  • Creating a point-based reward system wherein customers can earn points, and level up, which give them credits they can use to avail of additional products or services.
  • Provide corresponding rewards for every customer milestone.

What is a good example of gamification?

The Starbucks Rewards Application is an excellent example of rewards gamification. Instead of earning points or stars, customers earn “cups” for every purchase. There are leveling up opportunities with the rewards tier (i.e., gold membership) as well. This also encourages customers to spend more to get to the next level, which features better bonuses like free coffee, birthday gifts, etc.

It is a fun, interactive mobile app that not only encourages loyalty to Starbucks but also more spending from the customers.

2. Leverage customer reviews to engage new and existing customers

There is a reason why big companies promote their reviews and case studies all over social media. (More on social media best practices here.) It is actually a great way to not only engage new customers but also an opportunity to re-engage existing customers as well.

What are the benefits of leveraging customer reviews for customer engagement?

Customer reviews increase conversion. (Here a few customer review examples to show you how it works.) In fact, the majority of online shoppers are inclined to check reviews before making a purchase and most internet users also trust online reviews just as much as they would trust a friend or family member’s opinion.

This shows how product and service reviews can make or break a company. The more positive reviews a product or service has, the higher its conversion rate is.

Also, it is a way to re-engage existing customers. Customers love being recognized, and this is one way to feature them. If you are a B2B company, you are also helping your customers build their brand awareness through your social media account. It is a win-win situation for you and your customer.

However, you must always be careful. As much as possible, ask permission from the reviewer before posting their reviews.

But what if you have bad reviews? There’s no need to worry; you can take them as opportunities to engage unhappy customers by asking them what you can do to improve their experience with your company.

How to use customer reviews to engage customers

There are many ways by which you can use customer reviews to engage potential and existing customers:

  • You can share a great quote from a positive review (either posted on your website or in other review sites) on your social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You can even include the star ratings as your visuals for your posts.
  • You can respond to positive reviews to show appreciation for customers who provide positive feedback.
  • You can engage customers who leave negative reviews to get constructive feedback and demonstrate good faith.
  • You can share or re-post positive reviews customers posted on their social media accounts.
  • You can associate the review with a specific product or service when you post it on social media.

What is an excellent example of using reviews to engage customers?

Fabletics came up with a fabulous non-text approach to show how happy customers are with their workout clothes. What they did is encourage their customers to post photos of themselves wearing Fabletics athletic wear on Instagram while using the hashtag #MyFabletics. It’s a great way to involve your customers in your marketing campaign while demonstrating (without words) the value people get out of the products.

3. Provide your customers with rewards in exchange for doing something

Asking customers to do something for you is not an easy thing. After all, why would they give you anything for free when they generally have to shell out money to get something from you?

But sometimes, asking your customers for help can make them feel like they’re essential to your company—and that could help them feel more invested in your business. You wouldn’t want to pass up that kind of opportunity.

What are the benefits of providing rewards in exchange for requests?

Quid pro quo or tit for tat. It means something for something. You get a better chance of getting your request granted by the customer if you provide something of value to them. Whether you are requesting for a simple review or asking them to use a new add-on product, offering something in return can make a customer feel like they are not on the losing side of the negotiation. They will be more likely to give what you want.

What rewards to offer in exchange for requests

It is not complicated. Just provide something of value in exchange for something you want from them. Some of the rewards you can offer are:

  • Discount coupons
  • Reward points
  • Free items
  • Product or service bundles
  • Exclusive gifts

What is an excellent example of providing rewards to customers in exchange for doing something?

Campus Protein has a loyalty program that gives extra points to people who leave reviews on their page. They also provide extra points to folks who start following them on their Twitter and Instagram accounts during a particular promo period. This strategy hits two birds with one stone. It successfully encourages customers to engage with Campus Protein company by leaving reviews and following its social accounts online, while also encouraging them to spend more by using their points for discounts on their next purchase.

4. Work with your most engaged fans

If you have a group of dedicated fans who are interacting with your company regularly, you can leverage that relationship to increase overall customer engagement.

What is the benefit of working with my most engaged fans?

When you have a good relationship with your fans, they can become advocates who help you spread the word about your brand. By having people who believe in your company speaking up for you, your organization reinforces a positive reputation for trustworthiness.

How do I work with my most engaged fans?

You can work with your most engaged fans in a number of ways. Some of the most common are:

  • Have them officially re-share your important posts in their social media accounts
  • Make them leaders in online communities focused on your product or service
  • Invite them to test new products and services
  • Invite them to new product or service launch events
  • Ask them to write blog posts about their experience with your product or service—either for their site or your site

What is a good example of engaged fans serving as brand advocates?

Anybody remember Carter Wilkensen? The kid simply asked Wendy’s how many retweets he needed to get a year of free chicken nuggets. Wendy’s sassy Twitter page replied “18 million,” and the rest was history. It gave birth to the hashtag #NuggsforCarter, and Wilkensen got 3.4 million retweets – beating Ellen’s infamous Oscar selfie for most number of retweets. Though he didn’t reach the 18-million goal, Wendy’s still gave him the prize and even donated $100,000 to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption in his name. He was also guested on Ellen and other TV shows.

The amount of media (online and traditional) mileage Wendy’s got for this was worth so much more than the 1 year of free nuggets they gave Carter. This is an example of engaging your superfan the right way.

5. Build an online community

When you have a big customer base, you’ll want to encourage them to interact with each other so they could share and reinforce their experiences with your brand. While social media channels can give them an avenue for doing just that, the topics can become unfocused, and the discussions can be scattered.

It’s better to have your own official community, where you can have the same discussions but in an online space that’s much more organized manner.

What is the benefit of building an online community?

The benefit of having an online community is that you get to provide your loyal customer base a forum wherein they can talk about their experiences about your product or service, or even help one another if they encounter situations in which they don’t quite know how to use your offerings.

For companies, the benefit is that they can steer conversations and discussions towards a productive outcome. They can moderate conflicts so that they do not escalate and turn into something negative.

This is also an opportunity to collaborate with your customers. Allow them to suggest improvements and even let them recommend new products or services. It might just be the next big thing for your company.

Besides, this makes your customers feel more connected to your company. A lot of power users or super fans thrive within these communities, and they can also be valuable brand advocates.

How do you build an online community?

It’s not rocket science. The idea is to create a positive and friendly environment for your business and your customer base to have constructive and helpful discussions about your products, services, and even the company in general.

But here are some tips that you can use to build your community quickly:

  • Make the registration and joining process super easy. Do not ask overly complicated questions that will put people off in the middle of it.
  • Give people who just joined the community a warm reception. The simple act of acknowledgment goes a long way towards making a good impression.
  • Be involved with the community. Assign company representatives to serve as admins and moderators who will not only watch out for trolls but will also have meaningful and helpful discussions with the community.

What is an excellent example of an effective online community?

Foursquare has a thriving online community that spans the globe. What Foursquare dubbed as the Superusers community has continuously worked with the business to improve the app further. The company makes it a point to always motivate users to provide their insights into what they can do to make their app better with each update. These customers became brand advocates, which also led to the growth of the number of users from 250,000 to 8 million in just over a year.

6. Collaborate with customers

Who knows your product or service better than your existing customers do? They are the people who buy what you’re selling; so you might as well ask them what they need, right?

What is the benefit of collaborating with customers?

In a study by Esteban Kolsky, Principal and founder of ThinkJar, a research company focused on customer strategies, 70 percent of companies that deliver outstanding customer experience rely on customer feedback.

By involving your customers in the development of your product and service, you get a good grasp of what they are looking for in a product or service like yours. This will only help you come up with better solutions in the future.

It also gives your customer a stake in the success of the company. It encourages them to get involved in your initiatives and interact with other customers. It also gives them a sense of pride when their ideas are recognized and implemented.

How to collaborate with customers

You can work with customers through different channels, including:

  • Social media channels
  • Online communities
  • Team messaging communities (think Slack channels)
  • New product and/or service testing invitations

What are examples of companies that collaborated with customers?

A great example of a company that really values collaboration with customers is power tools maker, DEWALT. Their award-winning insight community is used not just to engage with customers, but also to understand their needs. They even get customer inputs on packaging and marketing. Customers are also encouraged to submit inventions for new product lines.

7. Use crowdsourcing to engage customers

This is a more specific approach to collaborating with customers. In this case, you present your audience with a particular issue or task that needs to be solved. You then get the input of your customer base and use that information to make the final decision.

What is the benefit of crowdsourcing in customer engagement?

The benefit of crowdsourcing is that customers are given the power to affect significant decisions in your company. It empowers them and gives them a sense of pride, especially if that decision leads to your organization’s success.

How do you use crowdsourcing to engage customers?

You are only asking your customers to provide their input. Some of the most common ways are through:

  • Arranging a poll where customers can vote
  • Conducting a survey
  • Directly asking customers for suggestions or solutions to a specific issue

What is an excellent example of crowdsourcing to engage customers?

Even before the term “crowdsourcing” was invented, DC Comics had already used the concept. The second Robin, Jason Todd, was not a popular character. After all, when people thought of Batman and Robin back then, it is still Dick Grayson they were thinking of even though the character was known as Nightwing and had separated himself from Batman by that point in the comics narrative.

Not knowing what to do with Jason Todd, DC conducted a telephone poll in 1988 to determine whether the character will be kept in the storyline or not. The result is one of the most iconic and most collected graphic novels that DC ever published—Batman: A Death in the Family. Incidentally, it was also turned into one of the best DC animated movies.

Jason Todd has since been resurrected and is now a fan favorite. So it turns out even he benefited from the crowdsourcing of his own death.

8. Engage customers over multiple channels

Even if you have a reliable business phone system and an excellent online forum, you have to realize that customers no longer just connect to businesses through voice calls and virtual communities alone. You need to give them different ways of communicating with you.

What are the benefits of engaging customers on multiple channels?

Aside from being accessible to your customers through their channel of choice (which makes it more convenient for them), there are many more advantages to engaging them in multiple channels. One of these perks is better conversion. In being on the same channel as your customer, you have a better chance of convincing them to make the purchase. You also get better data and, as a result, you get better insights. When you track how and where you interact with customers, you can get more information on how they behave, and you can customize your approach appropriately.

How do I engage customers on different channels?

It’s the same concept as having multiple branches in multiple locations. It is about establishing connections in channels where your customers are. This includes:

  • Through social media channels
  • Through an online or e-commerce store
  • Through brick and mortar stores
  • Through email

What is an excellent example of companies engaging customers on multiple channels?

ASOS, one of the UK’s largest online fashion retailer, was experiencing a slump in terms of sales growth. What they did is make a shift in strategy that made them more accessible through different digital channels. They are currently trying to take advantage of social media by customizing the experience in each platform. One of these is their integrated Facebook store, where customers are able to shop without leaving Facebook. That doesn’t even include their multiple Twitter accounts for trend updates, customer support, and more.

9. Take advantage of omnichannel contact center and customer engagement technology

Now that you are engaging customers in multiple channels, you might as well do it as efficiently as possible. What you want to be able to do is connect with your customers through various channels using just one platform.

What is the benefit of using omnichannel contact center and customer engagement technology?

First and foremost is efficiency. Instead of switching from channel to channel, you can log on to just one platform where you can access all these accounts.

Second, it streamlines information if you’re taking a lot of inbound calls. Data can get lost or become hard to find because they came from different channels. Having an omnichannel that stores all customer interactions from different channels into one organized space helps agents go through customer history, gain more valuable insight, and make better decisions for assisting customers.

How to implement omnichannel contact center and customer engagement technology?

Implementing an omnichannel contact center is actually no longer that complicated. In the past, you had to host the contact center solution using your own servers and run it using your own infrastructure. However, cloud communications providers are now able to offer cloud-hosted contact center software that businesses can sign up to use and run without the need to host it on-premise.

What are examples of omnichannel contact center and customer engagement technology?

RingCentral is a leading communications platform with its own omnichannel contact center solution that lets your customers connect with you via voice, team messaging, SMS, social, or email.

It’s also launched an omnichannel digital customer engagement platform that unifies all digital conversations (including chat, email, messaging, and social) in one platform.

10. Explore new technologies that can help engage your customers better

There is more to customer engagement technology than call centers. In fact, there are a lot of customer support and marketing tools you can use to build better relationships and interactions with your customers.

What is the benefit of exploring new technologies for customer engagement?

The purpose of technology is to make life easier for you. Depending on what customer engagement tool you use, it should make interacting with your customers much more convenient and effective.

The easier it is for you to connect with people who pay for your product and service, the easier it will be for you to inspire their brand loyalty.

How do you use technology for customer engagement?

Well, that depends on the tool. Here are some examples:

  • Chatbots – This technology is now being deployed by a lot of big companies to supplement and help with customer service teamwork. Chatbots are great for simple inquiries and concerns, and they are available 24/7. Best of all, they free up call center agents to deal with more pressing customer concerns.
  • Location-based computing – When you use location-based computing, you can customize marketing, promotions, and conversations based on the geo-location of your customer, which then allows you to cultivate more personalized interactions.
  • Virtual reality – VR technology is not just for games. You can leverage it for other purposes like e-learning and life-like demonstrations.

What is an excellent example of companies using technology for customer engagement?

IKEA has released an iOS app called IKEA Place. This virtual reality app allows customers to try out products in a virtual environment. You can use your own house as a template, and see how different IKEA furniture will look in your home.

Aside from helping customers make better decisions for their furniture needs, it also helps IKEA interact with customers. Also, this kind of software gets shared a lot. So, expect happy IKEA Place users to share it with other people online and offline.

11. Use data and analytics to improve customer engagement

The right data can focus your customer engagement. You don’t have to go blindly and make uneducated assumptions about who your customers are and what they really want.

What are the benefits of using data and analytics in customer engagement?

With the right data, you can get a deeper insight into who your customers are and how they behave. You can then use that information to personalize and customize your interactions with them, not only to convince them to purchase from your company but also to build meaningful relationships.

It must be noted, however, that available data may differ from company to company. After all, not all businesses are the same. Some are B2C, others are B2B. Some are purely online, some are traditional brick and mortar stores. That is why it is best to check the types of data that are available to your business.

How do you use data and analytics in customer engagement?

Here are some of the ways companies are leveraging data and analytics for customer engagement:

  • They use data and analytics to segment customers based on their needs
  • They use data and analytics to identify customer behavior patterns
  • They use data and analytics to personalize sales and marketing campaigns
  • They use data and analytics to see what content resonates most with their customer base
  • They use data and analytics to see why customers purchase and why they churn

What is a good example of using data and analytics to improve customer engagement?

McDonald’s digital self-order kiosks are a product of their research team’s findings, which showed that they are losing customers due to long queues. The solution was to provide a more efficient way of handling customer orders. As a result, the new McDonald’s self-ordering kiosks are expected to win back up to $2.7billion in sales for the company.

As for the customers—not only are the new kiosks a hit with its interactive user interface, they are now the preferred method for ordering by many customers. As an added bonus, it is very shareable experience on social media as well.

12. Check up on your quiet customers

Quiet customers don’t always mean happy customers. A customer’s silence can mean they are dissatisfied and frustrated.

What is the benefit of checking up on quiet customers?

If a customer is not complaining, it doesn’t automatically mean everything is going great. They could be busy, or maybe they think contacting your company is too much of a hassle. By re-engaging with your quiet customers, you can find out if they have gripes and complaints about your product or service.

As a result, you are able to come up with a solution that helps you keep them loyal to the company and maintain a high customer retention rate.

If it turns out they are indeed still happy with you, this is also an opportunity to ask them for a review or testimonial. Remember to include a perk with the request so they’ll be more likely to oblige.

How do you contact quiet customers?

It doesn’t have to be complicated. You can just use your business phone system to make a personal call. If that fails, then use other channels like email, SMS, and even social.

What are examples of unhappy quiet customers?

While there is no high-profile example of this issue, it is a pretty typical scenario. According to the same study made by Esteban Kolsky (previously referenced in this article’s collaborate with customers section), only one out of 26 unhappy customers actually complain. The rest churn. This specifically shows that lack of complaint is not a definitive sign of satisfaction.

13. Give your customers a surprise

An unexpected surprise could go a long way towards building a good and lasting relationship with your customers.

What is the benefit of giving your customers a surprise?

Giving your customers a surprise leads to several benefits for your business.

First off, it gives you a reason to interact with your customers in a positive way.

Second, it gives you a chance to check up on quiet customers. As mentioned in the previous point, quiet customers do not always mean happy customers. By giving them a surprise, you give yourself a chance to start a discussion with quiet customers. This also gives them a chance to tell you if they are unhappy about something.

Last, who doesn’t love a good surprise? It gives your customers something to be appreciative for, and that can be a really effective means of starting a good relationship with them.

What is an example of a good customer surprise?

A few years ago, Kleenex created a surprise and delight campaign in which they looked for people who posted online that they are sick or fighting a cold. Within a few hours, Kleenex sent the selected sick people with “Kleenex Kits,” which were filled with Kleenex tissues and other Kleenex-branded get-well items. It created such a massive buzz that the feel-good campaign led to more than 650,000 impressions immediately for the brand.

14. Make sure your sales/marketing team and on-boarding/product team are on the same page

If the expectation set by the sales and marketing team isn’t met when they get the product or service, then you’ll have yourself some miserable customers. This is why effective teamwork is so important.

What is the importance of making sure the sales and product team are on the same page?

If left to their own devices, the sales team may go overboard on their promises just to close the deal. If that happens, the chances of the customer being underwhelmed by the actual product or service can be pretty high. As a result, you’ll have unhappy and unsatisfied customers. By making sure that what can and cannot be done is made clear between both parties, you can avoid a bad customer experience.

How do I make sure the marketing and onboarding teams are on the same page?

The truth is, collaboration in the workplace is about more than just setting limitations on what your sales team can and cannot tell your customers (Although without a guideline, the sales team may promise future improvements that may or may not be part of your product or service’s roadmap, which will set false expectations.)

What you should do is open the communication lines between the sales and onboarding or product team, which should make it easier for the sales team to understand what the product or service can and cannot do currently and in the near future.

By making sure that customer expectations are met from purchase to consumption or usage, you are more likely to have a more engaged customer than a disgruntled one.

What is an excellent example of a sales/marketing team and on-boarding/product team being on the same page?

This is not a good example, but a bad one.

In 2006, Pfizer developed breathable insulin that should be able to replace traditional needle-based delivery. It was overhyped as the product that will make life easier for diabetics.

The problem is that, come actual usage, a lot of buyers found it impractical because you really had to breathe in the insulin. If you got any of it inside your mouth and swallowed it, it will not work. Plus, the size of the product was just too big to carry around in public.

The product just did not match the expectations set by the company, and until now it is still struggling to get momentum going in the market.

15. Demonstrate corporate social responsibility

In a previous blog post about the connection of the millennial market to corporate social responsibility, we discussed how millennials do not just look at price when they are considering a purchase. They also check if the brand’s values align with their own.

What is the benefit of demonstrating corporate social responsibility?

People love to share stories that restore our faith in humanity. Your customers are no different. By engaging in social and philanthropic campaigns, you are showing the world that your company is more than just a profit-making machine. You are showing your customers that part of what they pay for is doing the world some good.

When you do this, your customers will happily align themselves with your brand. They are more likely to become super fans and brand advocates because they support your company’s values.

How to show social responsibility

The trick is to be sincere and not fake it. It is not enough that you do some charity work and share it on social media. The modern market cares about sustainability.  Your business has to be conscious of the effects your decisions are making. Do you provide a healthy workplace? Do you have environment-friendly suppliers?

It has to start with a shift in company culture and values, and then aligning said values with what is vital to today’s market. You will be happy to know that millennials are more than willing to pay more for something they believe is good. If they think you are doing good, they, in turn, will also be good to you.

What are examples of corporate social responsibility?

An excellent example of corporate social responsibility is the TOMS business model. The company is focused on using environmentally-sound materials in producing their shoes, and a lot of their profit goes to improving lives in different parts of the world.  As a result, they have a very engaged customer base that is invested in their success. The way customers see it, helping TOMS also means supporting their causes.

These are all things that you can start acting on immediately. If the full list seems overwhelming to you, don’t worry—you can just pick one that resonates with you.

As you work on it, you will find that there are layers more of strategies and tactics you can explore for each one.

The important part is that you start somewhere.

Have you tried any of these strategies? Share your experiences with us!

About the author


Mark Dacanay is a Digital Marketing Professional who has been working with a B2B company offering cloud-based phone systems for more than 5 years. He is obsessed with anything about the cloud – the technology, not the fluffy stuff in the sky.