The modern customer has so many good-quality products to choose from these days. And it’s relatively easy to find them because businesses have expanded globally, and the purchasing technology is in place. But as a result, attracting and retaining customers is more demanding than ever. Plus, there’s no secret formula or one-size-fits-all solution to do it.
“Then, how am I going to engage customers?” you ask. Well, with effective customer engagement training (and our help too). In this guide, we compiled our finest recommendations for improving customer engagement through training. Use them to get ahead of your competitors who are nailing it at engaging customers.
What is customer engagement?
For a company, engaging with potential buyers is like going on a date. It involves emotions, and the company hopes the connection will develop into a long-term commitment. While talking about dates, emotions, and commitments might seem a bit silly, it’s actually pretty accurate! The commitment we mentioned is also known as customer loyalty. And according to the findings of Gallup, emotions account for 70 percent of brand preference—a fundamental ingredient of customer loyalty.
But whereas loyal customers purchase a brand’s product multiple times, engaged customers don’t necessarily do the same. And that’s the case with many frequent buyers who have a shallow brand connection or fans of luxury brands. As to the latter, an engaged audience might be passionate about the brand but unable to afford the products. They might even be brand advocates—voluntarily promoting the brand—without ever buying anything. Other engaged audiences might feel highly attached to a brand because it represents a certain lifestyle or set of values and beliefs. For instance, super fans or collectors of major brands such as Marvel, Nike, or Disney are engaged audiences.
Of course, your goal is to increase sales and have as many loyal, engaged customers as you can. But engaged audiences who don’t have purchasing power also help you achieve that goal. That’s why, in this article, we’re considering that your drive for customer engagement is probably sales. And you want to transform your target audience into engaged repeat customers. But you might as well want to cross-sell and upsell to them.
Customer engagement is the key to revenue. But it’s not simply about putting on a smile every time you close a deal or hand over a receipt to a buyer. You see, to engage customers, you must focus on the whole interaction with them. It’s how you consistently market your brand and communicate with your potential and existing customers that sets your product apart. Customer engagement is the two-way communication that happens over different channels between customers and a brand. And it’s not a one-off interaction. It’s a series of small interactions—a relationship!
And the stronger the relationship, the higher the engagement. Customers interact more, and you respond to their needs and preferences. For instance, you might launch a new product feature they asked for numerous times on social media. It’s a way of making those customers feel highly connected with your brand. They’ll consider that their relationship with your business is deep and close. It’s up to you to strengthen or break that link with every interaction. But the ideal customer-brand relationship is the one that lasts for as long as possible.
What does the customer engagement process look like?
You start engaging customers before their first purchase. But connecting with them enough so they want to buy from you is frequently a matter of endurance. And with stellar and consistent customer engagement, eventually, your prospects will prefer your product over others. It’s just like growing plants—you must regularly water them (but definitely avoid overwatering them). Everything your target audience reads, sees, watches, or hears about your brand matters. That’s the customer experience, which is integral to your customer engagement strategy. It may include marketing campaigns, news, customer reviews, and even what your (physical or online) store looks like. Then, if the experience is outstanding, your audience will also consider your brand the same way. They’ll engage with your company and start commenting on your social media. They might subscribe to your newsletter and, hopefully, end up purchasing your products.
But customer engagement doesn’t stop there. In fact, it’s just started! Because you want buyers to not only enjoy the customer experience and your product, but also purchase repeatedly and get deeply involved with your brand. And that requires you to think beyond the purchase and focus on the individual interactions.
All in all, you can never stop building a relationship with your customers.
- Your customer service reps must be on call, answering questions and solving problems.
- Your sales reps must constantly and actively listen to what customers say about their needs.
- Your marketing staff must monitor market trends and adapt customer communications accordingly.
And, of course, you must develop products and customer experiences that fulfill your audience’s demands. Because ultimately, customer engagement wouldn’t be on the agenda if it didn’t drive product purchases.
Examples of sustomer engagement
Here are a few ways of engaging with a brand:
Buying a product
A purchase may be a manifestation of customer engagement. However, even the most loyal customer might repeatedly purchase your product but not engage with your brand. This means they might have no involvement with your business other than buying products. Also, a one-off buyer might disengage from your brand after their first purchase. That might happen, for instance, when their customer experience falls short of their expectations. And consequently, you might lose them to your competitors.
Writing a review
Sure, you seek positive customer reviews spread all over the Internet! Why? Because prospects have easy access to those reviews and frequently use them to compare offers thoroughly. Now, consider a customer who writes a one-star Google review of your company. As strange as this might sound, they’re also an engaged customer because they got involved with your business. So, despite complaints being negative feedback, they’re also forms of customer engagement. Here’s another example of negative engagement: a loyal customer complaints by email instead of publicly.
What’s the key to both of these interactions? Address the complaint and remediate the situation. It might be your opportunity to regain or reinforce their loyalty.
Interacting on social media
Engaged customers interact with your social media channels by:
- Sharing or reacting to your posts
- Following your brand
- Commenting on your content in different ways:
- Tagging friends and family to recommend your product through word of mouth—”Jane, this is the app I told you about.”
- Complaining about your product—”Got one of these a couple of days ago and haven’t figured out how to open the bottom compartment yet!”
- Asking for product restocking—”When will this flavor become available again?”
- Making suggestions for new products or features—”Would love this wallpaper in a Vichy pattern!”
Subscribing to your marketing communications
A newsletter can be an effective method of engaging customers. It’s a direct channel of communication that you can use to:
- Share valuable and helpful information with your audience of customers, prospects, and brand advocates
- Increase sales by, for instance, announcing flash promotions or the launch of a new product or collection
- Drive traffic to your website by providing links back to it for more details or to take action
Joining a loyalty program
Collecting points and earning rewards is exciting and highly engaging! And it encourages customers to buy more of your products.
These are a few examples of loyalty programs:
- Loyalty cards or apps
- Tiered point systems
- Stamp cards
Customers use loyalty programs to:
- Get discounts on future purchases or shipping
- Earn gifts from brands that partner with yours
- Gain access to your private sales or special events
Participating in a chat group
Facebook groups and Slack channels are examples of chat groups you might offer your customers. You might also offer them to prospects and brand advocates. Chat groups engage your target audience by giving them a sense of belonging to a community. And both your marketing team and the audience can feed those channels with content.
Just make sure you have:
- A set of rules for interacting on the channel so everyone enjoys a pleasant experience
- An active community manager overseeing interactions and answering questions
- A joining process that:
- Only grants access to your target audience, which might be your service subscribers or those who know the history of your brand
- Requests joiners to agree with the interaction rule set you previously defined
Contacting customer service
You can’t offer an engaging customer experience without impeccable customer service channels, such as:
- A live chat—partly run by artificial intelligence and partly run by human assistants
- A contact form and customer support email address—with a short turnaround time
- A phone line—preferably available from Monday to Saturday all day long and with after-work hours
Be ready for your customers to contact customer service and ask:
- How to use your product more efficiently
- How to fix a problem with it
- In which ways your product can satisfy their needs
The importance of customer engagement
Ultimately, customer engagement leads to sales. And it does so whether directly—via customers with purchasing power—or indirectly—via brand advocates. But although sales are the goal, the perks of customer engagement go far beyond sales. Let’s explore the value of improving customer engagement.
Twilio concluded that companies with high customer engagement increased their revenue by 70 percent. They also found out that those companies expect to double their investment in customer engagement by 2025.
Engaged customers make positive customer reviews and interact with your brand on social media, right? Well, both are forms of social proof and assist your prospects in deciding whether or not to buy your product.
If you engage customers, you’ll likely increase their brand loyalty, which means retaining them long-term. They’ll purchase from you time and time again.
But there’s more to customer retention than repeat buys! Loyal customers become brand advocates, diminishing your customer acquisition expenses and time.
Here’s an example: monthly subscription box customers. They represent consistent, recurring sales you can count on. And they bring an added bonus to your business: word of mouth. They’re more willing to share on social media or in person (with their friends, family, and coworkers) how much they liked your products.
But for these customers to remain loyal to your brand, you must keep nurturing them. For instance, send customer satisfaction surveys or invite them to customer-exclusive events.
Nevertheless, retaining loyal customers is less expensive and time-consuming than building a new or expanding an existing customer base. And it reduces your customer turnover plus all the associated costs, too.
What better way to sell a higher-end product than having a loyal customer base? An effective customer engagement program will generate upselling opportunities among your current customers. And guess what? It’s 60 to 70 percent easier to sell to an existing customer.
Currently, customer engagement software automates interactions with customers. It makes those communications more timely and yet keeps them personalized, addressing customers’ needs, questions, and concerns. Technology also automates remarketing, which is the process of winning back the engagement of inactive customers who once engaged with your brand. It consists of getting them interested, involved, and connected with your company all over again. For you, customer engagement automation equals fewer repetitive tasks. But for your customers, the technology shrinks the purchasing cycle (or buyer’s journey). That’s the process between the first contact with your brand and the after-sales stage (from the buyer’s perspective). And automating the purchasing cycle frees your employees to focus on innovation, for instance.
Engaging prospects consistently raises your odds of converting them into buyers. And there are plenty of ways to boost your conversion rate while engaging your target audience. A newsletter is just such an example of a customer engagement strategy that converts prospects, too. Value-adding freebies, discounts, and blog posts that answer FAQs are other examples.
How to improve customer engagement through training
There’s a long way between engaging customers and getting closed wons. And you have to be intentional and strategic along the way. Thankfully, there’s a not-so-secret resource you can rely on—customer engagement training!
Here’s how to engage customers through training:
1. Make customer education comprehensive
We mentioned the buyer’s journey before, but now, we’ll talk about the customer lifecycle. It comprises the same period—from knowing the brand exists to becoming loyal. Yet the focus is on your actions instead of the customer’s.
The customer lifecycle is the process that you have to go through to make your target audience
- Become aware of your product
- Purchase the product
- Become a recurring customer
And one of the strategies for improving customer engagement is to develop a customer education program. And to make it effective and reach its full potential, the program must span all the customer lifecycle phases.
2. Provide effective customer onboarding training
Customer onboarding is more than a welcome video or a couple of customer training sessions. It’s a thorough training program that shows how your product answers your customers’ problems.
Here’s a list with examples of actions to take when designing your customer onboarding training:
- Know your target audience by researching their needs and goals and mapping their customer journey
- Support customized training plans for on-demand, self-directed learning delivered in multiple formats
- Automate the means to recognize achievements with badges and celebration emails and notifications
- Implement tools to evaluate the program’s effectiveness by measuring, for instance, the time elapsed between enrolling in training and starting to use the product
3. Invest in a customer academy
Online training academies offer highly customized learning experiences. And their success depends not only on the quality of training materials and tools but also on the timing.
It’s critical that you enroll customers in training as soon as they buy or sign up for your product. Because if you don’t, you risk seeing your churn rate soar.
4. Never stop training customers
Customer engagement is a never-ending process of piquing your customers’ interest in your offerings. But here’s the thing: Customer training can help you tremendously!
Create fresh training courses whenever something new comes up about your product. That might be new features or a new set of best practices beneficial to your customers.
Your goal is that those courses contribute to your customers
- Knowing even better how to use your product efficiently
- Feeling even more attached to your brand
5. Define customized learning paths
Setting up learning paths is a simple strategy you can adopt to engage your customers. It supports their autonomous learning. And it makes your life so much easier than fully customizing a customer training program from scratch, on demand.
With a learning path, you can control your customers’ learning progress. But you can also guide them through their training journey. And here’s why: A learning path is a selection of training courses hosted in your learning management system (LMS). They’re organized sequentially, and once a customer completes a course, the platform enrolls them in the next one.
Think of learning paths as roadmaps that you can customize. And use them to advise your customers on what they should learn next.
Tip: Before they start the training program, send each customer a short quiz to appraise their level of acquaintance with the training topic. Also, ask for the features and use cases that interest them the most. Then, depending on their answers and pricing plan, you might go two different ways.
- Set up the learning path that’ll get the customer from their knowledge level to the desired learning outcomes.
- Have a collection of predefined learning paths to speed up the path customization and enrollment process.
When defining a customer’s learning path, you can also consider completed courses and search history within the LMS.
6. Offer a product tour
Is your product complex? Or does it have many features? If that’s the case, consider developing a product tour.
It can take different formats, such as a video or a slide deck. But whichever format you choose, make sure to give a detailed explanation of how the product works.
A product tour is a perfect solution for highly busy customers who have a hard time booking an in-person or virtual product demo during office hours. It allows them to explore your product in depth whenever and wherever they wish.
7. Host webinars for different purposes
A product tour is an effective way of explaining your product’s features in detail. But it doesn’t allow for clarifying live any questions your customers might have while you show them how to use the product.
That’s why you need to host webinars with various scopes.
- Whole-product demos
- Ask-me-anything sessions
- New feature tutorials
With webinars, you’ll serve a global audience while saving on event planning, conference room renting, and traveling. And you’ll reach more customers in the same amount of time.
8. Launch a certification program
Some customers need a little push to enroll in customer training and finish it. But getting a certificate for successfully completing a training program might do the trick.
It’ll set a goal for customers to pursue and get them excited about learning. And if that isn’t enough to trigger their eagerness to understand your product, a certificate on their resumé might do.
9. Create expert content
The effectiveness of a training program depends on a few factors, including content quality. And a customer engagement training program is no different.
To produce content that shows expertise, is meaningful, up-to-date, and actionable, you must
- Involve subject matter experts (SMEs) in the content creation and update
- Rely on content authoring tools those SMEs can easily use on their own
10. Send reminders and notifications automatically
Sometimes, life gets in the way of training, and you have to encourage your customers to resume the journey. Email reminders and notifications are a couple of options for your to do that.
But sending them by hand would be an arduous task. And on top of that, you’d have to send multiple emails and notifications until your customers acted on them.
That’s when a learning platform comes into play, automating the process. Just don’t forget to stress the benefits of completing the training when you write the emails and notifications!
11. Train your customer service personnel
At this point, you know how to engage your customers by training them. But we haven’t yet discussed how to improve customer engagement by training your customer service staff.
Customer service training helps prepare your assistants to answer tough questions and effusive complaints. Whether in writing or speaking, this kind of training will ultimately teach your customers to use your product more effectively.
Engage Customers with ELM’s Learning Solutions
Our customer engagement training solutions assist you in initiating and growing genuine relationships. They deliver learning experiences that open up new communication lines with your audience.
Then, it’s up to you to engage your customers! Hear them. Appreciate them. And over time, you’ll hit your sales goals much more effortlessly.
Do you have a question? Or do you want to talk about a project to engage customers? We’re ready when you are! Get in touch and find out how our learning solutions can boost your customer engagement.