One of the best outcomes from the social media explosion is that the customer service bar has been raised. Now that more people are freely sharing their customer experiences – both good and bad – with the world, quality customer service has become imperative.
Yet with everybody stepping up efforts, the customer service function has to evolve for a small business to further differentiate itself. This is why the next logical step in the customer service evolution is customer engagement.
You’ve likely heard lots of recent talk about engaging customers as if it’s a new fad. Yet small business owners have learned long ago that personalised service and in-depth expertise are the two main factors that inspire customers to return time and time again.
What’s different now is the business owner’s ability to foster these connections in between customer visits through social media.
Going beyond exceptional service, customer engagement is about delivering more personalised experiences based on authentic relationships with customers.
The more the storeowner knows about the customer, the more personalised the customer experience will be. This, in turn, leads to repeat sales. Yet sustaining these types of engaging relationships with hundreds or potentially thousands of customers is an impossible task.
This is why focusing the majority of engagement marketing efforts on top customers will result in repeat sales and word-of-mouth referrals.
Cultivate stronger relationships with those top customers by providing insider deals, private showings and other perks not offered to a larger customer base.
In a nutshell, effectively engaging customers both online and offline comes down to:
- A passion for business that comes through in the interaction with customers, talking about products and services, and freely sharing expertise.
- Sincere interest in helping customers make the right purchasing decisions based on their particular needs.
- Enthusiasm for building and sustaining authentic connections with customers.
The ability to move beyond traditional customer service and engage customers will make all the difference in driving a more profitable business.
Barbara Wold has more than 45 years of first-hand retail experience, and is one of the industry’s most sought-after speakers and consultants.
Taking Stock is Retail in Asia’s fortnightly column dedicated to showcasing opinions from experts in the retail industry.