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The right customer engagement strategy goes a long way in increasing retention and satisfaction.
•Published: Jan 18, 2022
It’s not enough to sell a fantastic product — delivering an excellent customer experience matters just as much. According to Salesforce research, 80% of customers believe that their experience with a company is as important as the products they sell.
You need an effective customer engagement strategy if your company wants to build a better relationship with users. It’s the key to increasing loyalty, driving more revenue, and improving customer satisfaction.
Here are the seven best practices you can use to keep your customers engaged and hungry for more.
1. Understand the User Journey
The first step in launching an effective customer engagement strategy is identifying all touchpoints, goals, and challenges in the user journey. That way, you can predict the user’s every move and find ways to keep them engaged at each stage of the customer journey. Chip Bell, senior partner at The Chip Bell Group, noted during an interview with CXL:
“[The intent of understanding the user journey is] to ‘get inside the customer’s head’ to ‘see,’ and therefore, understand the customer’s experiences. Armed with that perspective, organizations are better able to craft or recraft processes and encounters to become more customer-centric.”
To do this, you can use story mapping to uncover your customers’ needs at each stage. It involves organizing different user stories (short sentences that describe your product experience from the user’s perspective) in one visual dashboard. These user stories include information on the goals that the customer wants to achieve and the problems they experience.
To write your user stories, you’ll be using the following formula:
“As a [type of user], I want/need to [perform an action] so that [the intended result].”
Let’s say your company offers a web conferencing solution for business professionals. Here’s an example of what a user story can look like for your business:
“As a [business professional], I need to be able to [easily share documents] during my web conference presentation to [better communicate with participants].”
You then want to divide these user stories into different group activities based on which step of the user journey they refer to. For each group activity, identify solutions that you can include to meet the user’s needs at each step.
Check out our article on creating the best user story maps to learn more.
2. Integrate Chat Messaging Support
Integrate chat messaging. Fifty-one percent of customers from a report by Kayako say that they’re more likely to buy again from a company that offers live chat. Chat is a convenient way for customers to reach out to companies.
However, building a chat messaging feature from scratch isn’t an easy feat. You must build complex features to make your chat feature stand out (like message reactions and thread replies) while thinking about issues such as reliability and security. It’s why you’re better off using a third-party solution to integrate chat messaging support.
The Stream Chat API allows you to integrate real-time chat messaging into your product quickly and efficiently to shorten your time-to-market. Stream has pre-loaded UI designs and various advanced messaging features, such as message reactions, emojis, and file sharing.
3. Celebrate Milestones
Celebrate milestones to remind users of the value they receive with your product. What you choose to celebrate as a milestone is largely irrelevant, says Sofia Quintero, CEO of EnjoyHQ, in an article from UX Planet — as long as you celebrate something.
“It could be logging in for a certain number of consecutive days, the anniversary of the first time they logged in, a certain number of actions completed — the achievements themselves are less important than how you choose to commemorate and celebrate the accomplishments.”
Each time a customer makes progress on their tasks, you can improve their product experience and give them a reason to come back by celebrating their wins, no matter how small they might seem.
It could be as simple as sending them an in-app message when they complete a new task. An example of this is Duolingo, a language learning platform that congratulates the user whenever they complete a lesson or break through a new level.
For example, you can celebrate the first anniversary of the user being with your company by giving them a discount, just like electronics product company Wemo does below in this email:
Another way to celebrate the user’s small wins is to send reports on the progress they’re making. It’s something that grammar-checking tool Grammarly often does with the writing updates it sends to users:
The user gets to know how long they’ve been writing, how their productivity matches up against other Grammarly users, and how their writing improves over time.
4. Create Content for the Customer’s Needs
Content marketer Irina Weber at SE Ranking says in an article for Keap: “[You] need to tailor content to a specific audience to hook and keep their readers’ attention.” And in order to do that, you need to “understand their pain points, habits, and preferences.”
Like understanding the buyer journey, creating the most relevant content for your audience starts with a clear buyer persona. It requires deep research on your customers’ needs, pain points, and goals throughout the customer journey stages.
Another way to create content for the customer's needs is to use topic brainstorming tools. BuzzSumo, for example, comes with a research feature to find out if a particular topic is popular with your audience based on the number of social media shares.
5. Listen and Gather User Feedback
Whether it’s good or bad, you must frequently listen to what customers have to say about their product experience. It keeps you up to date on their expectations, so you can continually make changes to satisfy them.
There are many ways to listen and gather customer feedback. The best methods include:
- Customer surveys: You can send short surveys for your customers to complete on their product experience, needs, and expectations via email. The questions in your customer survey should revolve around how satisfied they are with your current product, what features they like the most/least, and what they want to see within your product in the future.
- User interviews: Another option is to set up interviews either remotely or face-to-face and talk to them directly. Check our article on the best questions you can ask to get the most out of your user interviews.
- Review previous customer service interactions: Your customer support chats can be a goldmine when it comes to gathering users. Going through live chat conversations helps you uncover frequent complaints or challenges that users often struggle with.
In an article with Forbes, Joel Matthew, CEO at Fortress Consulting, recommends that you set up weekly touchpoints and surveys to help you “be in the know in real-time so you can make course corrections.”
6. Follow Up with Inactive Users
If you’re not taking the time to follow up with inactive users, you’re missing out on countless opportunities to win back lost customers. To re-engage inactive users, sometimes all it takes is following up to get them to give your product a second chance.
If a user signs up for your platform but doesn’t go past the first step, you can follow up with them via push notifications or email to give them context on what next step to take. For example, language learning platform Busuu sends this email after a user is inactive for one day:
What do you do if a user gets through the end of your free trial but never purchases? You can follow up and win them back with a discount. Here’s an excellent example from website-building platform Squarespace:
To win the user back after their free trial, Squarespace offers the user a 10% discount on their website. All they have to do is enter the code at checkout to benefit from the offer.
Another way to win back lost customers is to personalize your follow-up message based on their previous activity or interests, just like graphic design platform Canva does below:
Canva personalizes its follow-up emails based on the interests of the user. That way, it feels more relevant for the user and increases the chances of them clicking it to get started on a fresh new template.
7. Implement a Loyalty Program
Eighty-one percent of customers believe that loyalty programs encourage them to keep on doing business with a company, according to research by HubSpot.
Digital storage platform Dropbox uses a loyalty program to engage customers. When users invite others to sign up and try its file storing platform, they win extra storage space. In fact, this loyalty referral program was part of what helped Dropbox grow its user base by 3900% from 2008 to 2017.
To create a loyalty program, follow these three steps:
- Choose a goal: Think about what you’re trying to achieve from your loyalty program. Is it to increase revenue? Drive more referrals?
- Identify your type of rewards: Based on your goals, you have various ways to reward your customers. It can come in the form of discounts or access to special VIP features of your product.
- Identify which customers to target: After defining your goals and the types of rewards you’ll offer to customers as part of your loyalty program, identify which customers will be more interested in your program. These will be the customers who are the most active and have shown a solid track record of loyalty.
As you launch your loyalty program, make sure to measure its results over time to see if it's having a direct impact on retention.
Go Beyond Satisfaction with the Right Customer Engagement Strategy
Customer engagement isn’t just about increasing the satisfaction of users. Applying the right customer engagement helps increase retention, which, in turn, has a direct impact on your bottom line. It benefits everyone and contributes to a better product experience.