Social engagement is sought-after currency for many brands, B2B companies, and nonprofit organizations. However, how to actually attain and maintain high levels of engagement with your customer ecosystem is less clear. Part of that has to do with a fuzzy understanding of the real business impact that engaged customers can deliver.
For many marketing and customer care executives, customer engagement is still a pie-in-the-sky concept with few metrics and no way to measure its impact. They know that it is important, but can't pinpoint just how engaging your customers can impact core business goals. We developed the following mnemonic device to remind companies and associations of the power that engaged customers or members can bring to an organization.
What Can a R-E-L-A-T-I-O-N-S-H-I-P Do For Your Organization?
RReach. When you are starting a revolution or trying to differentiate yourself in your industry by spreading ideas about a new way to do business or solve a pervasive problem, who better to help you expand the reach of your message than engaged customers who buy into, and are already seeing the results of, your ideas.
EEvent Attendance. When you increase customer engagement, both awareness of, and interest in, your events and conferences rises. If you provide the platform for your customers to engage your organization and each other, the in-person events are just an extension of that existing conversation and community.
LLower Support Costs. Engaged customers are educated customers. You'll gain more control over support costs by working with customers who have a greater understanding of their needs and your solutions, as well as by empowering customers to help other customers.
AAdvocates. Along with spreading news about their positive experience with your brand, engaged customers advocate in the form of referrals, strong references, good reviews, and top ratings.
TTolerance. No product, sales, or support team is perfect. We all make mistakes. When your customers are engaged, they have a deeper understanding of your organization and are quicker to forgive you when mistakes impact them.
IInformation on Your Market. A steady stream of data about your market's problems is invaluable in developing products, positioning, and marketing messages that resonate with your target audience.
OOpportunities to Increase Your Footprint. When your company occupies a greater share of your customer's mind and budget, you'll not only be the first company your customer looks to for additional solutions, but they have a vested interest in your success.
NNet Profit. When customers are kept engaged, you can increase the lifetime value of each customer by extending the duration of the relationship as well as capitalizing on new sales opportunities with existing customers. If they have a problem that they are trying to solve, you will likely be the uncontested first company they reach out to in order to see if you have a solution.
SStanding. When you have the social proof that comes with an army of educated and engaged customers across your industry, investors, prospects, media, and legislators will find you much more credible and take your message (impact on the market) seriously.
HHurdles for Competitors. Retaining customers is one of the biggest windfalls of engagement. By some accounts, it costs companies 5X more to acquire new customers as it does keep existing ones. By engaging your customers, you are building a first line of defense when competitors unleash a new product or make their way past the gatekeeper into a meeting with your customers.
IInsight into Usage. Engaged customers share eye-opening information about how your products, complimentary products, and alternatives are being used. They'll also tell you about how they want to use your product or service in the future.
PPatience. When your customers are engaged, they feel heard. This gives your organization an opportunity to treat them as partners rather than transactions. They will be more patience when it comes to product updates, issue resolution, and the occasional missed deadline.
These pillars apply to both for-profit corporations and nonprofit organizations - from small businesses to international associations to the Fortune 500. You have heard the idiom, "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer." You can now add, "and keep you customers closest," given the community-building tools available and the organization-wide impact that engaged customers can have.