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THINK Contributor

Where is your business in the customer engagement matrix?

By , February 8, 2017
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For marketers, what is this matrix? In the movie The Matrix, it was a rebellion against machines. In the instances I’m about to address, it’s about 21st century business communications between your stakeholders (customers) and your organization. Whether you are a service company, retailer, or brand, today’s customer demands more from you than in the past.

Here is where all your multichannel marketing blends together into an enticing and successful customer journey. This engagement matrix will be online or offline. In any strategy like this, it’s important to connect with your customer in a positive, personalized manner. Although this is not customarily a part of traditional marketing methods, even the user experience on your website is a part of it. People no longer tolerate hard-to-navigate websites; they just move on to the competitor’s seamless digital experience.

Rather than rebelling against the machines, let customer analytics help you advance your marketing goals

Even the most experienced marketers confuse the customer experience with customer service. They’re also an important cog of the matrix – defining them initially is key:

  • Customer service is an action performed in reaction to a customer comment, request, complaint, or question. Customer service is performed once you have a customer, and it is part of your customer retention strategy.
  • Customer experience is everything you can do proactively to attract a prospective customer as well as to promote general goodwill about your business once your customer enters the funnel. The experience is engagement in every form, not just public relations.

The days of guerilla marketing are over. You can no longer get away with sneaky or deceptive marketing tactics. Today’s customers are savvy. You no longer “own” your message; commerce transacts in a democratized world. A world where the customer has just as much weight as you do when it comes to influencing purchase paths. Storytelling is good for your brand, but having the customer join you in the engagement matrix is far more powerful.

Connecting – in this matrix – is a combination of human engagement, marketing, and data to fully reach human beings (know your customers)

Empower your customers within your partnership. Be sure they understand that they are an engaged and appreciated stakeholder. Realize that communication and engagement is no longer us vs. them; it’s about all of us, together. This strategy works best when we want to clearly send across a message. It’s all about human conversation, personalization, and engagement on the customer’s terms – not yours.

When it comes to social media, don’t invade and alienate customers. You need to meet and greet them on a personalized plane. You can safely assume, according to a 2016 Pew Internet survey, that your customer is on Facebook. According to the survey, while 86% of Americans currently use the Internet, eight in ten online Americans (79%) use Facebook.

Although Facebook is king, Twitter is the home of the hashtag, and people are hit by hashtags on traditional media every day. People who are new to Twitter go to the site to see what a hashtag means. While they are stopping by, they might just check to see if their favorite brand is part of the conversation. Wouldn’t it be sad if your account had no visible interactions? What a super impression it would make for one of your customers to see a vibrant conversation from your brand with their stakeholders.

Considering your all-important social media marketing plan, incorporate social listening. Hear what is being said about your brand and jump in to promulgate a conversation. Don’t let negative social comments stay unanswered. You need to respond publicly and quickly. Make it known to the world that you have taken action and cooperated to elevate your customer’s experience.

You may choose to have a dedicated social media team, but consider every front-facing employee to be an ambassador for your brand. Front-facing can be as obvious as a team member in store or an employee on social media with your company name in their bio. Every word they say in public reflects on you and your brand. Part of my customer engagement matrix includes a Social Media Policy for your employees.

Interact with your customer. Use your CRM best practices and extract enough personal data to connect on a one-on-one basis. A simple entrée to this on social is to build a database of customer’s birthdays. A simple comment, such as “happy birthday,” goes a long way to build a connection.

Jump into the matrix of customer engagement through offline and online methods

Follow your customer’s journey, but don’t think you can pinpoint a persona by generalizations. For example, a new study from IBM and the National Retail Federation shows that 98% of the digital-native Generation Z (those born between the mid 1990s to the mid 2000s) prefer to shop in stores than online. (But, interestingly, they form most of their brand relationships by engaging with brands online).

Shopping in-store for any generation is a high-touch experience. The customer can run their fingers across your product and hold it with their hands to make the final purchase decision. Through this high-touch experience, customers build an emotional attachment to the product that is difficult to replicate online.

By using customer data analysis, today’s in-store experience can be remarkably personal. When a customer goes to the register to pay for items, personalized suggestions for additional products can be at your team member’s fingertips.

Word-of-mouth in the digital age is just as powerful as in the old days, perhaps even more respected today. Every customer needs to walk away from any connection with your brand with a positive feeling of inclusion.

Remember that “no problem” is not a valid comment – we’re sorry, we care, and we appreciate your concern. Words make a difference in how the customer understands their value. Humanize your response, connect personally with your stakeholders, and watch your bottom line grow!

Marsha Collier is the author of The Ultimate Online Customer Service Guide and over 40 books in the “for Dummies” series on best practices for eBay, Twitter, Facebook, and social media. She is also the Founder  chat and host of  tech podcast. Marsha is a paid contributor to THINK Marketing.

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Want to learn more about how your company can redefine customer engagement in the cognitive era? Register to attend Amplify 2017, March 20-22 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV. Find out how cognitive technologies can illuminate new insights from data, help you deepen customer connections, and fuel strategic growth.

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