The ways in which businesses and contact centers connect with customers have evolved dramatically in recent years.
A multitude of new engagement channels have emerged and the use of digital communication has sky-rocketed.
As a result, the modern consumer is exposed to more brand voices than ever before.
Amidst all this noise, it’s become increasingly difficult for businesses to break through and make lasting impressions.
Brands are having to fight tooth and nail to capture and retain customer attention.
In order to stand out from the crowd in this immensely competitive market, it’s crucial that you engage effectively with new and existing customers.
In fact, research indicates that two thirds of a business’ profits may rely on an effective customer engagement strategy.
So what’s the secret to successful customer engagement? Well, it all starts with optimizing your use of engagement channels.
If this sounds daunting and you’re not sure where to begin, never fear. You’ve come to the right place.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
- What customer engagement is and why it matters
- The top digital engagement channels explained
- The best digital channel for your business goals
- How to make the most of your customer engagement channels
Defining customer engagement
One of the first challenges with customer engagement is that the term itself can seem elusive.
There are an overwhelming range of definitions out there. Many businesses adopt their own interpretation to fit with their brand narrative.
So, let’s strip it back to the basics.
At its core, customer engagement is simply about the interactions between your customers and your brand.
These interactions contribute to the cultivation of a relationship between business and consumer.
Customer engagement is an ongoing process. So, it’s important to consider how your customers engage with your brand throughout their journey.
Remember, the customer journey can be long and involve multiple digital channels.
Your brand’s customer engagement should be compelling and consistent throughout.
The impact of customer engagement
Customer engagement is crucial because it has a direct impact on the customer experience.
Providing a positive customer experience is essential as 80% of consumers consider the experience that a business provides to be as important as its products and services.
What’s more, a surprising 86% are willing to pay more for a better customer experience.
Customer engagement can also be a significant competitive differentiator.
And, as 54% of customers think that businesses need to transform or improve how they engage, there’s a window of opportunity to get ahead of your competitors.
An improved engagement strategy will create stronger customer relationships.
This is because the more engaged your customers are with your brand, the more emotionally connected they are. This emotional investment will also establish and maintain brand loyalty.
Customer engagement is also inextricably linked with conversion rates and thus revenue.
In fact, a study by Constellation Research found that businesses who improved engagement increased cross-sell profits by 22% and raised up-sell revenue from 13% to 51%.
Clearly, the impact of customer engagement on business success cannot be ignored.
Engaging your customers effectively adds value to their experience, drives profits and creates lasting brand devotion.
In this next section, we’ll detail the top digital channels for optimizing customer engagement.
The top 5 digital engagement channels
In today’s era of digital transformation, modern technology is a prominent feature of most people’s lives.
Customers will automatically turn to their preferred digital platforms to research and interact with your business.
Therefore, it’s imperative that you can connect consistently with them across a variety of contact channels.
This communicative agility is the hallmark of impactful customer engagement.
It will allow your brand to build a positive public image with a reputation for being responsive, reliable and customer-centric.
You may be stuck wondering which digital channels to focus your efforts on. Well, check out the following section.
We’ve compiled the top five engagement channels to consider when devising your customer engagement strategy.
1. Live chat
Of all the engagement channels your business can employ, live chat is one of the most essential.
It currently reigns as consumers’ favorite platform for customer support. According to research, an astounding 90% of consumers consider live chat to be a helpful digital channel.
On top of that, 51% of consumers are more likely to remain loyal to a company that offers live chat support.
Live chat is ideal for customer engagement because it allows human agents to have real-time, personalized interactions with customers via instant messaging.
Live chat is particularly useful for assisting virtual shoppers with purchases, and for resolving customer queries.
It’s also a great channel for proactive customer service. Your agents can reach out to online customers first by sending welcoming messages when they visit your website.
Even if a customer never uses live chat, having it as an available channel on your website conveys that your business is always readily available to engage.
SMS messaging is one of the most popular methods of digital communication.
In fact, research by Market Strategies found that 66% consumers rank SMS as their first or second favorite channel to contact a business.
The same study discovered that 4 in 5 consumers send mobile text messages at least twice daily.
And, there are currently 6.4 billion smartphone users worldwide.
Consequently, SMS is an excellent engagement channel for reaching the majority of customers.
You can use SMS to send customers information about current deals or even discount codes. This is a particularly effective strategy as 61% customers believe that surprise offers or gifts are the best way to engage them.
SMS has the advantage of being a fast and convenient engagement channel that customers can access with ease – it’s literally at their fingertips on their mobile devices.
3. Social media
Social media is a powerful tool for forging meaningful connections and relationships with your customers.
It can be used to reach a huge range of individuals and demographics. Almost 60% of the world’s entire population uses some form of social media.
Through sharing content with customers via social media platforms, brands can reinforce their personality and narratives.
You can post enticing updates and purchase incentives to attract new customers while also strengthening the loyalty of existing customers.
You should also make use of live chat for social media to engage directly in real-time customer conversations.
Improving your social media presence with captivating content and one-to-one chat interactions is a great way to fuel customer engagement and build your brand image.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible for human agents to be constantly available to engage with your customers.
This is why customer service chatbots are a useful engagement channel to have as they have the benefit of 24/7 availability.
As they don’t require human agents to function, chatbots can assist customers outside of your contact center operating hours.
Chatbots allow customers to engage via digital self-service. They can resolve basic queries or transfer customers to human agents if required.
A responsive email service is a key channel for successful digital customer engagement.
In order to engage effectively through this channel, it’s imperative that your contact center provides a fast average response time for customer emails.
With email, you can boost customer engagement simply by ensuring you send consistent follow-up messages.
One study found that the customer response rate to emails increases from 18% for the first email sent, to 26% for the sixth.
Although email seems like a slow option nowadays with the emergence of progressive technology like live chat, it’s still the go-to channel for many customers.
Its popularity and reliability means that email holds an important role in digital customer engagement.
(Pro tip: In that matter, consider improving email deliverability using an SPF checker and taking other necessary email security steps.)
The debate: which is the best engagement channel?
The truth is, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to building an optimal customer engagement strategy.
Different digital engagement channels have different strengths. Which one is best all depends on the type of customer, the situation and the purpose of the interaction.
It’s also important to consider the wider context of your business and customer service goals.
Think about what you’re trying to achieve through the improved use of your digital engagement channels.
Is the primary aim to increase conversion rates? If so, you might focus on refining your live chat and social media strategy to drive sales and lead generation.
Or, are you concentrating on building customer relations and brand loyalty? Then you should make use of messaging channels like SMS or WhatsApp to send your existing customers personalized offers, vouchers or discounts.
Perhaps you’re trying to gain deeper insights into satisfaction rates and customer perceptions of your business? Consider using email to send out feedback surveys for your customers to complete.
Whatever your objective, there are a number of valuable strategies you can apply across the board to make the most of all your digital engagement channels.
Take a look at the following tactics.
How to make the most of your digital engagement channels
It’s important to treat your digital engagement channels as an extension of your brand image and voice.
These channels are a valuable resource for attracting more customers and discovering the wants and needs of your existing customers - so long as you’re using them productively.
The following strategies will help you elevate your use of engagement channels to build stronger customer relationships and provide positive brand experiences.
1. Personalize customer interactions
Providing personalized customer experiences should be a top priority in your digital engagement strategy.
This is fundamental because 64% of customers now expect personalized engagements that are based on their past interactions with your brand.
And, according to Accenture, a third of customers who abandon a business relationship do so due to a lack of personalization.
In order to provide personalized engagement, you must know and understand your customer.
You need to take into account the entire customer relationship and any history they have with your brand.
Consider previous interactions, past purchases and any feedback your customer has provided.
This wider context will allow you to provide engagement that is shaped by the customer’s individual interests, needs and preferences.
2. Humanize digital engagement
Customers like the convenience of digital communication. But, they also want a humanized experience when they’re engaging with your brand.
In fact, 75% of consumers prefer humanized communication and support from humans over AI-powered technologies.
It’s clearly essential that your customers at least have the option to connect with human agents through your digital engagement channels.
Humanized digital communication enhances the customer experience.
It provides a level of engagement that mirrors in-person interactions and builds stronger customer relationships.
3. Utilize customer data
A great strategy for making the most of your engagement channels is taking advantage of any customer data you have access to.
This will give you insights into your customers’ individual journeys and expectations.
It’s important that this information shapes your use of engagement channels, as 66% of customers expect businesses to have an understanding of their unique needs and preferences.
By informing your engagement strategy with customer data and insights, you can deliver exceptional and tailored customer experiences through your digital channels.
4. Implement omnichannel software
The use of omnichannel technology is a forward-thinking way to enhance customer engagement across all your digital channels.
Advanced omnichannel software will allow you to switch effortlessly between different engagement channels during customer interactions.
With Talkative, for example, agents can smoothly escalate from live chat to other channels like video chat or cobrowsing.
This gives your customers a smooth and seamless experience throughout their journey.
It also gives customers more freedom and options. They can choose the engagement channel that is most convenient for them at any time.
By implementing omnichannel solutions, you can enhance engagement, improve the customer experience, and present a cohesive brand image across all digital channels.
The takeaway: Digital channels shape successful customer engagement
It’s clear that refining the use of engagement channels should be a top priority for any business or contact center.
Achieving this goal will enable you to establish and maintain lasting relationships with customers through personalized and humanized interactions.
By focusing your efforts on improving customer engagement you can increase conversions, build brand loyalty, and boost customer delight.
You can also strengthen your business’ public image and stand out from your competitors.
Ultimately, refining your use of digital channels is the foundation of successful customer engagement.
But if you want to truly reap the rewards of customer engagement, you need the right platform to facilitate it.
A platform that’s specifically designed to cultivate customer engagement and deliver the best consultative experiences.
And that's where Talkative comes in.
Our Consultative Service Platform provides a complete suite of engagement channels that'll empower your customer advisors to connect instantly, and effortlessly, with your digital customers.
In turn, you'll be fully equipped to engage and convert more customers than ever before.
Want to learn more? Book a demo with Talkative today.