3 Technology Trends to Increase Customer Engagement
Leveraging Technology to Increase Customer Engagement
The goal of increasing customer engagement is central to any effective sales and marketing plan, and for good reason. Engaged customers are more likely to expand their relationship with you to other transactions, and even bring new customers into the fold via positive word of mouth.
High levels of engagement help reduce churn and boost customer satisfaction. Among other benefits, that offsets the costly process of acquiring new customers, which can be 25 times more expensive than keeping the ones you already have. Engagement is no less important in acquiring new customers, though; in addition to helping improve sales conversion rates, it can also deliver more qualified leads.
Engagement is clearly important, then — but how can it be achieved? This question is especially timely as commerce continues to shift to digital-based platforms, transforming the very nature of customer interaction and engagement. The fact is, the nature of customer engagement is always evolving, thanks to the onward march of consumer tech.
And digital channels are the front lines of this new customer service frontier. From chatbots to SMS, from shopping carts to apps, from eBay to Instagram, customers are engaging with you on a huge variety of formats — or trying to, anyway. In such a fragmented marketplace, how can businesses tie everything together to focus on the single goal of increased customer engagement?
Insight #1: Getting Smarter about Artificial Intelligence
Ideally delivered by automated chatbots to ensure 24/7 availability, live chat has become an essential engagement tool. Whether delivered via website or app, this communications channel leverages AI to quickly and efficiently route customer inquiries. In the process, it also provides automated responses to simple, easily-answered questions, thereby allowing more efficient use of live agents.
Yet the most important part of this equation is the balancing of AI with live agents — i.e., creating a system that seamlessly shifts between both. That means no lag time or inconvenience for the customer: As software executive Bob Segert told Forbes, “86% of consumers expect to have the ability to transfer to a live agent should the interaction become too complicated.”
In today’s marketplace, “less commitment is required on the part of the customer,” agreed Susan Patel at Inc.com. For them, “it’s easier and cheaper than ever to leave and seek alternate solutions if value isn’t being delivered.” The strategic use of AI can satisfy a customer’s immediate needs more quickly, as well as usher them into a seamless experience designed to keep them engaged through conversion.
Action Item: Work to develop a system that can ensure a seamless flow from AI-based to live-agent customer service, and update your workflows accordingly — and make sure you have the technology footprint in place to get the job done, whether it’s your own communications center or an outsourced contact center.
Insight #2: Making the Shift to Omnichannel Integration
One of the most startling aspects of the explosion in consumer technology in recent years is the sheer amount of it. Smartphones and tablets have given people almost limitless methods for communicating with businesses, whether it’s via mobile eCommerce, texting or social media (which goes beyond likes, tweets and follows to include actual online marketplaces, job boards and seller feedback platforms).
It’s up to businesses to make themselves available on each of these channels, or risk losing out not just on an important relationship, but potentially an entire market segment. And to do so effectively involves offering a truly seamless transition among all available channels. That’s goes beyond syncing AI and live agents, as noted above: It involves an entire integration of all your existing communications.
The ideal omnichannel strategy involves a cross-platform integration that syncs all customer communications and touchpoints. In practice, that could be taking a social media coupon clickthrough directly to a payment page, or letting customers call a service line at any point during checkout to speak to a rep who instantly knows the details of their entire journey.
On top of ensuring a seamless brand experience, omnichannel customer service helps you better understand and invest in the channels your customers prefer, be it a more robust website, a more engaged social media presence, a more dynamic app, or one of many others. It can also improve efficiency by directing all inquiries to the appropriate channel or resource.
Action Item: If you’re not sure where to begin, start by making an inventory of all existing customer touchpoints. How fluid is the path between them? Can customers jump seamlessly from website chat to your customer service page, or even a common FAQ list? If you’re uncertain of any of these questions, it’s time to consult an expert.
Insight #3: Leveraging Advanced Data Intelligence & Analytics
Each interaction with a customer generates data. This includes the first moment of contact, the moment of conversion or drop-off, and all points in between — even in the documentation of the periods of time where no contact was made at all. Data intelligence and analytics, the science of tracking and using this data to improve your bottom line, isn’t new. But it has evolved in remarkable ways in recent years.
Today, the strategic use of advanced analytics can provide a suite of benefits, including:
- A clearer understanding of the exact customer journey you’re offering, helping to pinpoint bottlenecks and bounce triggers
- Insights into precisely which customers are most valuable, which are most engaged with your business and which are more at risk of churn
- A means to predict customer behavior, which helps you not only expand your relationships with existing customers but also break into new markets
- The tools to create a fully personalized customer experience and help turn casual shoppers into lifelong brand advocates
In short, the more data you have, the better you can understand what each customer likes, what they expect from you, what time of day or week they prefer to engage, and other valuable insights. All of this data is more readily available than ever before. That’s only half of the equation, though. There’s so much data that it isn’t of much use unless you have the tools to decipher, compile and interpret it.
Action Item: Whatever your method of customer communication may be, be it your own employees or an outsourced call center, double-check the use of analytics to ensure the most effective use of this important tool. If your game plan is even a year old, it’s time for an update. Don’t hesitate to contact a specialized provider if your current efforts aren’t delivering all of the benefits defined above.
Working Solutions provides data analytics services, as well as an entire suite of customer communications services.Contact us.