Businesses across the world are under pressure to go beyond simply providing a top-quality service to their customers. After all, this is now the minimum requirement for firms in any industry, particularly the most competitive ones.
As a result, they have had to look for other ways in which to stand out – and many have found investing in customer service the solution. The reason is clear, as it enables businesses to develop a relationship with their target market that can encourage repeat custom and – potentially – long-term brand loyalty.
Active customer engagement has also proved a necessity for another reason. With the emergence of social networking platforms, online forums and review sites, any disgruntled customer can share their experiences with a large audience and potentially put others off transacting with a firm in the future.
Customer engagement today
Businesses therefore need to be mindful of the reputational damage that can ensue if a customer does make a complaint on the internet.
Many firms have taken to building extensive and detailed data sets about their customers, so any engagement efforts are based on their established tastes, preferences, circumstances and behaviour.
This has driven a shift away from mass-market promotion, with companies instead moving towards personalising their marketing material to each individual. And this approach has been proven to deliver results. Indeed, a study by McKinsey found that retailers have seen their marketing return on investment go up by ten per cent if their campaigns are personalised according to their customers’ previous purchasing decisions.
Of course, there is a delicate balance to strike for any firm that goes down this road. Firstly, consumers might be uncomfortable if a business apparently knows too much about them, and secondly they don’t necessarily want to be contacted too often.
Any business that wants to engage effectively with their target audience must therefore bear this in mind and find out how often they wish to receive communications. Otherwise, a person might easily choose to stop following a firm on social media or unsubscribe from a mailing list.
CRM systems have proved invaluable in helping firms juggle every individual’s various requirements and preferred options, so they can effectively engage with people at the right times and in appropriate ways.
Customer Engagement, CRM and Sales
A good way of maximising the chances of delivering well-targeted and relevant communications is tracking a customer’s journey from the very beginning. By doing this, firms can build up a picture of what a potential buyer looks like, so sales people can engage in a meaningful way that is likely to yield results.
But companies should remember there is unlikely to be a one-size-fits-all persona, so they should segment their customers into different groups. A CRM platform can be a useful tool for performing this task, so firms can engage with each group in a way that suits their various requirements.
This not only helps to ensure firms get good returns on their marketing investment, but it also reduces the likelihood of annoying certain people by sending them irrelevant content.
A CRM system can also streamline the customer engagement process, so a company is less likely to leave too long a time between first contact and a promised quote or proposal. As a result, customers will probably not be tempted to look elsewhere in the meantime to get their goods or services more quickly.
Furthermore, the technology helps firms keep track of whether or not follow-up communications, such as emails and phone calls, are happening when they should, so again people won’t get tired of waiting and move their custom to a competitor.
With many people commenting on their brand experiences via social media, it’s useful for companies to have a means of monitoring what’s being said on Facebook and Twitter about them, as well as certain products and subjects.
CRM technology comes with a social media listening facility, so they can gain insights into hot topics and people’s views. Businesses can then tailor their marketing material and communications with this in mind, speaking about issues they know are on the minds of their target audience.
In summary, firms no longer need to guess about what people are interested in, how they want to be contacted and exactly who is purchasing what. It results in a far better targeted and effective marketing strategy that is based on evidence rather than random guesses and anecdotal observations.
Companies can therefore prioritise where they may see fit, perhaps by focusing their resources towards their most lucrative groups or maybe improving in areas where they might be falling short.
Customer loyalty & CRM
Attracting customers is one thing, but keeping hold of them is quite another, which is why CRM has become such a key asset to businesses in all sorts of industries.
But simply having a CRM system in place is not necessarily enough. It needs to be used properly in order to deliver maximum results, so businesses know who they are dealing with and what expectations people have of them.
So what do firms need to do in order to make sure they’re making the most of this resource? Ensuring every department has access to CRM technology is vitally important, as it means large amounts of information can be shared between everybody who might need it. And this could be particularly useful for firms that have employees working remotely, perhaps from their own home.
Implementing a standard approach to using CRM across each department can also be worthwhile, so everyone in a firm is operating by the same rulebook and mistakes are less likely to be made.
Every division that needs to should be able to access the data they require in order to identify trends and sales patterns – and perhaps avoid a repeat of mistakes that might have been made in the past.
By having all this customer information available with just a few clicks of a button, companies can engage with people in a proactive way and build a reputation for offering a relevant and tailored experience every time.
Ultimately, this will generate a buzz around brands and perhaps draw even more people towards them, as well as help to ensure any problems that do arise can be dealt with quickly before they escalate into something more serious.
The future of CRM and customer engagement
The case for using CRM to drive customer engagement is strong and wide-ranging, from ensuring that marketing spend is used effectively to helping firms manage the reputational risks opened up by social media.
With more and more people transacting via digital channels, there are lots of opportunities for companies to gather and use data in order to both attract and retain customers.
And those businesses that fail to take advantage of them risk getting left behind, as customers will inevitably be drawn towards those firms that seem to effortlessly provide a relevant, timely and well-targeted service.
CRM technology can help make using customer data in a meaningful way a hugely straightforward process, so businesses of all sizes should be able to keep customers happy and engaged via all the platforms through which they operate.
For more of an insight into how CRM systems can be a useful resource for a business, have a look at Redspire’s new white paper on the subject – The Route to Customer Engagement with CRM.