In today’s highly dynamic and interactive business environment, ‘’customer engagement” plays an instrumental role in co-creating a stellar customer experience. Business practitioners and experts suggest that effective customer engagement amplifies the customers’ satisfaction towards the brand. Engaged customers show a greater loyalty and act as brand advocates by providing referrals and/or recommendations which leads to more sales growth, superior competitive advantage and overall profitability.
The largest organizations in the world are making meaningful connections with their customers. They are using best customer engagement practices that enable them to interest, involve, and connect with customers at an emotional level.
What about the small and medium businesses? Are they lagging behind in this race?
Fortunately the answer is NO.
Small and mid-size business leaders have shifted the focus from cost cutting in their back-office systems to improvements in their systems of customer engagement. The objective is one: to implement steps that forge a tighter link with the customers.
To validate this fact, here’s an insight of two leading surveys that illustrate how customer engagement has become one of the high-ranked priorities for the fast growing small and medium-sized businesses.
1. Telus and Lumos Research study
Small Businesses are working upon customer service and customer engagement to use it as a defense against the increased competition. They are implementing steps to provide an outstanding customer service and increase customer engagement to get a sharp competitive edge.
2. Constant Contact Small Biz Council
In a survey of 1,305 participants, majority of the businesses admitted that engaging customers was crucial to stay afloat in the competition. This is precisely why the importance of customer engagement has exponentially grown among the small businesses.
In view of this fact, does it mean that the small businesses are going great guns building customer engagement?
Unfortunately the answer is NO.
In this age of a highly competitive business landscape where customers have become the dominant driver of business growth, mid market leaders are in a scurry to employ their customer engagement practices. As a result, they are blindly jumping into the bandwagon with primarily two major blunders:
First, Starting Customer Engagement only after the sale
What they fail to realize is that Customer Engagement (CE) includes all the interactions of customers with a company or a brand. The initiative for customer engagement ideally starts right from the first point of contact when the customer enters the company database as a lead till the time he/she continues to use the product/service of the company.
Second, Implementing multiple standalone applications
According to Oracle Report – Most mid-size companies maintain prospect data in an SFA system, order information in an ERP system, and customer issues in a CRM system. Today’s Customers who demand to interact with companies via new types of social and mobile channels place their orders and service requests in dissimilar mediums. As a result, when required to engage the customers and best serve them, these organizations grapple to pull the information scattered across systems; include information from social networks and create a unified customer view.
Read this example –
A man purchases home light fixtures from a small and medium-sized business dealing in energy-efficient lighting solutions. From the next day onwards, he starts receiving a series of emails on upcoming home lighting fixtures. Here, the company’s objective is to build a connection with the customer by providing home lighting recommendations based on the customer’s last purchase.
Sounds good customer engagement strategy? Not really.
The company considers after-sale as the start of customer engagement. Or possibly, the company has deployed standalone marketing, sales and service applications. Consequent of which, the customer service team does not have a clue of the customer’s interactions with the sales and marketing reps.
But then as we mentioned before, looking at what the customers have bought doesn’t always portray the full picture.
Just if the lighting company would have had an end-to-end customer engagement platform (that maps marketing, sales & service), it would have come to learn more about the customer prior to the sale. This might include the interactions that the customer had with the marketing and sales reps where he mentioned about a possible chance of requiring commercial lighting fixture for his upcoming office in the town.
Based on these nuggets of information, the company could have easily made recommendations on latest commercial lighting pieces. Not just this, the company could have provided other advice based on industry knowledge and first-hand experience with office lighting.
In short, using an-end-to-end customer engagement tool, the company would have been able to know more about the customer to offer a better personalized engagement.
Here’s what a leading expert states –
End-to-end customer engagement platforms enable companies to be proactively contextually relevant in real-time which lead to measurable revenue growth.
As a result, mid-size business market leaders who wish to reap the fruits of customer engagement need to change their perception on what it means to collaborate and engage with customers. They need to take customer engagement to areas including before purchase, namely marketing and sales. Most importantly they require ONE BROAD CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT PLATFORM that offers a streamlined view of customers’ interactions across the different stage of marketing, sales, and service and has key marketing (marketing automation, lead management, email marketing) sales (sales force automation, sales process, sales pipeline management, invoicing) and service (Customer Support, social integration ) features integrated within it.
The implications of this exercise are huge. The entire customer journey will be mapped and customer-company relationships will become fully reciprocal. In this way small businesses will shift to becoming customer focused. They will proactively act based on the sales, marketing and service interactions to deliver more personalized experiences.
Do you have any end to end customer platforms you can recommend? It would be for a IT staffing firm.
Depending on your requirement a simple and straight process flow can be managed by solutions like Insightly or Capsule CRM. However, if you are looking for an extensive solution specifically for SMB which can take care of your sales, marketing, service and collaboration and has integration to telephony, emails and even QuickBooks then you must definitely try ConvergeHub.