Multi-channel customer engagement has become a new catch phrase in customer service. Why? Because in today’s competitive environment businesses are realising that in order to keep customers happy, they need to deliver on certain expectations. It’s the age of choice, which means you need to offer more.
Where to start?
Towards the end of last year I attended the Internet Retailer 2011 Conference in San Diego, California, and multi-channel customer engagement was on everyone’s lips.
Engagement is first and foremost an attitude. It’s expressed from the CEO of a company right down to its staff members. It’s based on the fact that we all have two ears and one mouth, and that as businesses we need to listen, engage and respond to our target market and customers. The premise is that if you fail to meaningfully engage with your customers and prospects, they will vanish into the ether and engage with your competitor. It’s as simple as that!
You may ask how this need to engage developed. Where did it come from? Why is it so important? What happened while your head was turned? It’s mainly due to the phenomenon of social media and networks, as well as the basic need for people to be heard and meaningfully understood. Social media has changed the way people communicate, which means the rules governing sales have changed. Suddenly the quietest person has the capacity to express a voice that could be seen and heard by millions. While this could be devastating publicity for a company that is not looking after its customers, it also presents a golden opportunity for tech savvy businesses to ‘put it out there’ – to engage their customers and win the hearts and minds of prospects.
The rules of engagement
Remember, engagement is more than simply ‘communication’. It is the meaningful communication between a customer and a company that wants to listen and respond. Therefore, multi-channel engagement for business is the meaningful engagement in the channel of your customer’s choice and at the place that they are engaging as part of their daily lives. You cannot expect customers to come to you – figure out where they are having their conversations and go to them.
Multi-channel engagement basics
What you need: An up to date, mobile-friendly website with full contact details, as well as empowered staffing to receive and respond to calls and emails.
What you need: An integrated mobile-friendly Blog, giving news, specials and updates.
- The Blog should have all forms of commenting enabled, without comment moderation, and negative comments should not be deleted. (Except in the case of profanity/hate speech/insanity).
- Negative comments should be professionally answered, quickly, and followed up. These are often gems for your business, and it’s your way of really being seen to engage with your customer. In many cases the satisfied customers on your database will rally to your cause and comment positively! All good!
- All comments should be answered on the blog comment thread, and if the person who commented has their own blog then it is good ‘bloggy’ etiquette for the company to return the visit and leave a meaningful comment on the commenter’s blog. This creates a link back to your website!
- The blog should also have an RSS feed, as well as a place for the customer to subscribe to your posts by email.
- Most importantly your website and blog should link to each other as well as to your Facebook, Twitter and Youtube Channel.
3. Facebook and Twitter page
What you need: Create a customised Facebook and Twitter page (free), containing as much detail as possible including your logo, full contact details, links to your blog and website, your offering, value proposition, fully open, comments enabled, as well as managed and populated on a daily basis. The Facebook Page can be adapted (see www.involver.com ) to integrate your Twitter and YouTube Channels.
Tip: Want to take your brand from ‘The Garage to The Globe’? Open a Facebook Store for $20 per month. This includes full e-commerce platform (see www.tabjuice.com).
What you need: Create your own YouTube Channel (free). Then create your own low budget YouTube Movies about your business, product or offering, or simply link your YouTube Channel to movie clips that have an affinity to your business. Ensure that you activate full commenting, and that you engage with commenters.
Remember to link all the above channels to each other, as well as to install ‘Sharing Widgets’ wherever possible. There are hundreds of social networks out there. Take advantage of this. Tech-savvy customers will do the work for you. They will share all the interesting posts and content that you provide. This is a great marketing opportunity!
Lastly, the person responsible for your hands-on social media strategy or management should dedicate an hour or two each day to ‘outbound’ Blogging, Facebooking, Tweeting, and YouTubing.