Maintaining an engaged customer base requires retailers to move beyond the traditional one-way interaction model that dominated the space before the growth of social media. Today’s savvy consumer wants to be listened to and expects a two-way interaction-based relationship with retailers and brands. This is where personalisation and detail could prove the difference between retailers and brands increasing customer loyalty or losing them to the competition.
1. Communicate business values
This doesn't mean that a corporate vision statement should be the primary communication method - customers don't think in those terms. Develop a tone, voice and style that resonates with customers and represents the company values. The challenge is to ensure consistency of voice, tone and message at every customer touch point from website copy to email marketing to social media.
2. Listen to and engage with customers
As customers grow more comfortable with the changing retailer-shopper dynamic, they expect to receive more personalised attention at all points of contact. This requires any customer service interactions to avoid scripted responses in favour of more realistic human interaction. As with any normal interpersonal interaction, listening to customers shows that they should listen to you in return, and adopting a more human approach to interaction makes customers more receptive to issues.
Engagement does not have to be restricted to points when customers contact retailers directly. Spotting other potential interaction points requires sifting through a vast amount of data across multiple platforms, and the amount of time and effort required to do this manually would be an immense drain on resources. A software-based media monitoring solution provides the ability to sort through this data rapidly and accurately, allowing resources to be dedicated to listening and engaging with customers.
3. Test ideas
The more time retailers spend interacting with customers, the more customers will feel comfortable sharing their issues and ideas. This is akin to having a free focus group of existing customers dedicated to improving the business, and retailers can dramatically enhance their engagement levels by demonstrably testing and following the ideas that show merit. Several retailers have put similar plans into action, but one of the pioneers of this process was online computer retailer Dell.
4. Offer value
Customers are coming to expect access to data at their fingertips, and content marketing allows retailers to provide information relevant to their product offerings that attracts and retains customer attention. Educating customers about issues related to products without an overt marketing message shows that retailers are interested in helping them above and beyond the goal of extracting revenue, making them feel valued. A commitment to content-driven marketing can take time to develop that sense of value, but results in more engaged customers over the long term.
5. Know your customers
The more retailers know about their customers, the more they can tailor specific interactions designed to appeal to their sense of loyalty. Every digital interaction can be accumulated into a customer relationship management database and when properly analysed, a profile of your most valuable sets of customers emerges, allowing e-commerce managers to make effective and data-driven decisions about where to focus resources.
6. Keep things personal by tracking customer activity
Every point of customer contact should be informed by any and all available data on that customer's past interactions, including everything from their first name to how long they spent looking at their products before making a purchasing decision. Recent advances in machine learning and cloud computing have created a number of turnkey predictive intelligence solutions that can allow retailers to turn the data that they gather from their own website into responsive personalised experiences.
7. Focus on customer experience
Optimising the customer experience can make or break an e-commerce business. Unsurprisingly, having a customer first approach to designing the entire sales process is a highly effective way to provide an experience that means the demands of the consumer, increasing loyalty and maximising engagement. This approach is considered an integral part of the customer journey from from initial marketing and customer acquisition to sales and post-sale customer service.