Business owner shaking hands friendly with a customer to illustrate the idea of "engage with your customers"
Suanny Garcia
By: sgarcia
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Customer Engagement: 15 Ways to Gain and Retain Customers

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Customer engagement is key to the survival of any business. Simply put, a business cannot thrive without customers. This is why it is not only important to keep them happy, but to engage with your customers to gauge the success of your product or service. Unhappy customers are less likely to refer your services or return to offer their business.

Social media has put a new spin on customer engagement — individuals can now comment, like or unfollow a service or brand. By asking questions and remaining curious as to what your customers’ needs are you can do your best job to cater to them and thus bring in continuous businesses and referrals. Additionally, customer engagement techniques using social media are the best way to find new clients. But a face-to-face conversation, and other old-school ways to engage with your customers, never go old. Here we offer you a mix of traditional and innovative ways to gain customer engagement.

Customer Engagement: 15 Techniques That Will Boost Your Profits

1. Get to know your customers, and let them know you

The rule of thumb when it comes to customer engagement is to get to know your clients. It’s as simple as that. Show your concern to know what they like, what are their interests or hobbies, what motivates them and makes them excited. To better know your ideal customer, the first thing you can do is create a customer profile: a basic, high-level description of your ideal customers.

Learn here how to build a customer’s profile

Once you have a profile of who your ideal customer is, it will be easier for you to find ways to motivate the real people who embody that profile. Ask for their opinion and feedback on your website or blog, send them a “What can we do better to improve our service?” type of questionnaire. If you have a physical store, traditional tools like a book of visits or a suggestion box can do wonders. Show your interest in those who visit your establishment and engage in informal conversations. You can get valuable information about who they are, and thus learn how to improve your business and boost your sales.

Same the other way around: a simple way to increase customer engagement is to let your customers approach you and get to know you better. Build an emotional connection with your customers by showing them they are dealing with an actual person, not a “faceless” corporation. Who likes dealing with a machine when you call a business? So try to be more personal. On your website, include an “about us” section and tell your personal story. Include pictures of your upbringing. If you have a physical location, welcome your customers with a smile and show your best face. If they are new to your establishment, welcome them, introduce yourself and tell them about your business. Engage in short, friendly conversations. If you are proud of your roots, show it! Display pictures and mementos of your place of origin. Use personal knick-knacks: they can spark a conversation. But be careful: don’t do it in a way that can be tacky or offensive to customers. Leave your religious or political beliefs outside your workplace!

Read here 5 tips to understand your online customers

2. Use Social Media

Use your social media accounts wisely to improve customer engagement. This means not only taking charge of your company’s image but engaging with your customers and encouraging them to engage with your business. Most of the time, you’ll find all the answers you need to improve or preserve the quality of your product or service from your very own customers. To learn more about one particular bulletproof type of online customer engagement, visit how to use Snapchat for your business.

For example, if you own a beauty salon, ask your clients if you can take before and after pictures and post them on your social media accounts. If permitted, be sure to tag the client; by tagging the client, potential customers see real people behind your brand while simultaneously seeing your craft. Encourage your clients to repost the image for pure pleasure or offer them an incentive such as a giveaway.

Learn here how to take full advantage of social media for your small business.

3. Host a giveaway

Speaking of giveaways… host one! This is a really creative, interactive way to gain customer engagement, get your clients excited about doing business with you and interacting with you on social media. Whether you have products or services to sell, there’s always something to giveaway — perhaps a 20-minute consultation, a small gift bag or a complimentary bottle of wine or dinner. Get creative! Encourage your customers to like, re-tweet, re-post and tag others under your giveaway posts, which will allow your social accounts to grow in visibility. Before you host an Instagram promotion, it is important to acknowledge that the promotion isn’t sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Instagram.

Detailed below are two examples of simple social media giveaway ideas:

Photo contest: This one is especially fitting for businesses who have products to sell. For example, host a photo contest in which users post a photo of themselves using the product, or the product on its own, and have them tag your brand for a chance to win a full-sized product or set.

Tags: Have your followers tag a friend on your specific social posts and re-post the image for the opportunity to win. This will help your social media account garner new followers and it will get your brand’s image in front of the public.

4. Provide answers

Respond to your online reviews if you want to increase your customer engagement. As you grow, this will become increasingly overwhelming, but having some sort of managerial customer service presence online will be beneficial to your business. Customers like to know their opinion matters and that they are being heard. Even if it’s an unfavorable comment or review, answer their request diplomatically and thank them for taking the time to leave a review, whether on Google, Yelp, Facebook or any other outlet. Of course, there will ideally be loads of positive comments and reviews. However, in case there are some negative ones, here are some examples of customizable responses you can give to negative reviews:

“Dear Name, I’m sorry to hear about your unfortunate experience. We truly appreciate your feedback and would love the opportunity to amend your distaste. Please allow us to offer you a complimentary dinner in our restaurant.”

“Dear Name, I’m sorry to hear about your experience. We take your comment very seriously. Please allow us to compensate you for any inconvenience you may have experienced.”  

Learn here when and how to respond to Yelp reviews

5. Host an event

Whether you’re celebrating the anniversary of your business or would like to show off a new skill or product, events are a great way to get lots of people into one place at once and thus promote customer engagement. If you have an exciting product to launch, invite your customers for a product tour in which you dedicate time to walking the audience through some of the benefits and how-to’s of that specific product and, most importantly, how that product can help the customer. If you’re celebrating a milestone or business anniversary, host a small get together to simply let your customers know you appreciate their business. Be sure to include music, cocktails and some light bites — usually, once you offer these amenities to customers, the rest will take care of itself. Take a few minutes to post photos and videos of the event on your business page. If the event took place at your business location, the images will spark curiosity even among those who didn’t attend.

6. Start a YouTube channel

YouTube is one of the top websites to achieve customer engagement. Have in mind this free online channel boasts one million active users monthly — that’s one out of every two people on the internet! YouTube is especially beneficial for business owners who have a service to provide and want to gain more likes. Invest in a video camera and brainstorm creative ideas to promote your service.

For example, if you own a beauty salon, show off difficult techniques via camera. If you have a team of consultants, tape a ‘getting to know our staff’ video where each person shares a most valuable piece of advice for the potential customer. If you own a car repair company, share tips on how to care for your car to prevent issues or to predict them before they happen.

Whatsoever your business may be, be sure to offer valuable advice to your viewers and potential customers. When thinking about posting anything on social media, always be sure to keep the client in mind. Ask: how will this benefit the client? What needs are this post fulfilling for them?

7. Build a community

Take advantage of social platforms: Facebook Groups, LinkedIn Groups, and Google+ Communities give you the ability to create communities that can take customer engagement to the next level. The main advantage of these social networks is that you can directly engage with your customers by answering their questions, keeping them updated, and sharing useful information.

8. Share exclusive content or offers

Here you have a few ideas: offer coupons to those who subscribe to your newsletter. Release exclusive content or deals on your blog and remind your customers when they will be released through an email. Send an email to your subscribers letting them know first-hand the day you’ll have a sale in your store. Your unique business will determine the kind of promotions and content you can share. Be always creative when it comes to customer engagement!

9. Provide entertainment

Customers like to be entertained: this is a huge opportunity for customer engagement.

Entertaining your customers is relatively easy to achieve if you have, let’s say, a restaurant business. You can hire a band to play on certain nights, or hold a stand-up comedy night.

But these days you don’t need a physical location to offer good-quality entertainment. Interactive online games and interactive websites are an excellent way to achieve this purpose (be aware of the extra cost, though). These features will make your business look more innovative, and will spark interest and curiosity.

10. Inspire and develop emotional connections

When your business is involved in community efforts and engaged in non-profit activities to help others, people feel inspired, moved, and are prone to visit your business again.  Hold a pet-adoption day. Offer discounts for seniors or veterans. Collaborate with the local hospital and donate a portion of your sales. There’s nothing wrong with using social media platforms to tell what you’re doing and ask for more collaboration. Both you and your customers will feel better about your ongoing relationship.

11. Invite Customers for a Day Out with You at No Charge

Customer engagement takes many forms. Let’s say you’re a photographer specializing in snapping photos of animals. Invite your customers to a petting zoo. Before the scheduled event, take pictures of each animal. Provide a handout that describes each animal’s likes, dislikes, and other information. You can do this for any type of business. If you sell farm equipment, customers can visit fields to see flowers blooming, corn that’s ready to harvest, or view strawberries growing on vines. Your goal isn’t to sell something but to enjoy spending a day with customers. They will remember your generosity and how much fun they had which might be a new way to create a sales funnel.

12. Send Customers a Birthday Token

Use automated software like Postable or another mass mailing system to send birthday cards. You can add a personal message and let the online system deliver the card on time. Select a preferred font and schedule your cards at one time for the whole year. In some instances, some customers may not want to provide a birth date. When that happens, simply modify your customer engagement plan. Send those customers a token of appreciation any time of the year or on Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays. They’ll love using a personalized keychain, pen, or a mouse pad that includes your business information.

13. Share a Book

You share a common interest with customers that like your products or services. Both you and the customer are passionate about what you offer because it makes life easier. On your path to becoming a successful entrepreneur, share a favorite book that helped you develop your product or service. Customers will gain valuable insights, learn something new they can use in their lives or businesses, and may even share with you ideas you hadn’t thought of to take your business to a new level. You could implement this customer engagement technique at the same time you take steps to increase holiday sales.

14. Revitalize Relationships with Former Clients

Sometimes clients fall by the wayside because they’ve had major life changes. Reconnect with them by sending a simple letter or email stating you’re checking in. Explain that you’ve added new products (list them along with a description) that could benefit them. Offer a 10% or more discount on their next order. Include a postage-paid questionnaire asking if they’re interested in your products or how you can help. They can pop it in the mail at no cost or, if you are sending an email, you can simply include this questionnaire there. Follow up with a phone call in a week to make sure they got the letter or email and see how they’re doing. If they’re no longer interested, you can update your customer database.

15. Invest in Customer Engagement Software

To save time, a customer management system (CRM) software helps you keep track of engagements. You can manage campaigns to improve communications and keep up to date on customer feedback. Monitor aspects of customer engagement based on predetermined milestones for each customer. Apps are available so emails, instant messages, and other forms of communication are stored in one place. Furthermore, the software generates reports so you can tackle weak areas that need improvement. It’s possible to convert website visitors into paying customers or generate quizzes, contests, and surveys to collect data.

Want more tips to attract and maintain customers? Simply subscribe to our Newsletter. It’s free and every week you’ll receive in your mailbox the latest trends in the world of small business, tips, tools and resources that can make your business thrive and grow.

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