Creating positive customer experiences is already a challenge. Customers are increasingly demanding of businesses, requesting a dizzying array of options at every touchpoint, and this has led to an incredible amount of resources being poured into improving customer experiences. With so much being devoted to creating these experiences, it’s important for businesses to consider how they can get the most ROI from them. Increasingly, that means channeling positive experience into increased engagement and community.
Below, we look at 5 ways businesses can go about turning their happy customers into a community of loyal followers that will create the potential for future sales and growth:
1. Make Increased Engagement Valuable to the Customer
Businesses want customers to engage with them, but encouraging them to do is very tricky. Authenticity is key, and engagement incentives - even for customers who are otherwise satisfied - risks alienating potential customers who might interpret it as dishonest. To get the best of both worlds, try creating creating campaigns that provide additional value to customers beyond just what your own brand offers. A great example of this is the Société de Transport de Montreal offering riders exclusive deals based on their location in the system. Every time a customer gets an exclusive deal just for riding the subway, there is an increased chance they will continue to do so - and tell their friends about it.
2. Devote Resources to Channeling Happy Customers
It’s commonly understood by businesses that they should be using happy customers to create a community. But like any other aspect of a business, this doesn’t just happen on its own. Growing and cultivating a community is an active, resource intensive activity that must be given not just priority but resources. If not, the potential exponential impact of positive customer experiences can be lost. To make sure that doesn’t happen, draw up a business plan that empowers employees to create processes to build communities - and make management hold them accountable for the results.
3. Keep It Fun & Engaging
It’s easy for businesses to look at their online communities as a place where they can relentlessly sell their product. But this doesn’t create an atmosphere that is fun and engaging, and so it’s less likely to be effective. There is a difference between audience networks and social networks - the former may increase your business’ presence, but the latter builds a community. A great example is offering discounts to people who introduce a product or service to a friend. This incentivizes people who are happy with your brand to stay active with it by getting value for themselves while also being able to provide value to their friends as well.
4. Focus on the Journey
Making a sale is the goal of every business, and it’s easy to think that once that milestone is hit, a business and the brand part ways. But customers don’t see it this way at all, and businesses that fail to take this into account are missing out on huge opportunities to have positive stories told about them. A good way to combat this is to take the time to outline the interactions between the customer journey and customer experience at every touchpoint- pre-sale, sale, and post-sale. Doing so will force your business to think critically about your relationship to customers every step of the way. This in turn will allow you to think critically about how to lay the foundations for community from the start, so that you will be ready to foster positive engagement in that direction after a sale.
5. Take a Data-Driven Approach
One of the biggest problems with the translation of customer experiences into increased engagement is that the differences between them are often misunderstood. Many businesses aren’t sure how to go about measuring the transition between them, and so they don’t. This results in a lack of understanding about what works and what does not. To combat this, make sure your business understands that customer engagement is measured by identifying key moments in the customer journey, assigning scores to each, and relating them to other key attributes in order to generate an “engagement score”.
A Customer-Centric Approach In All Things
Ultimately, businesses should treat customer experiences in the same way they would any other asset. This means devoting resources to determining the best way to cultivate them, and understanding how to measure success and failure. By doing this with a constant focus both on the customer’s journey you will be able to cultivate a relationship from the start that encourages and rewards engagement.