Most customer service interactions happen because customers don’t know something and need help. Two out of three B2B consumers engage a company primarily to request service or support.
It’s a natural part of the customer journey.
When customers take to Google, though, they expect to quickly find authoritative, branded answers to their questions. And if they do contact support, the last thing they want to hear is I don’t know from an agent.
That’s not engaging customer service, and both outcomes indicate a lack of understanding on the part of the company. These days, only companies that invest in understanding their customers will win market share and disrupt competitors.
This is customer engagement at its best.
Table of contents
- What is customer engagement?
- Important customer engagement touchpoints
- Strategies for improved customer engagement
- Driving engagement with self-service support content
- The view from outside in
What is customer engagement?
What is customer engagement and how can service and support functions go about owning customer interactions across the board?
Customer engagement comprises the systems, tools, resources, and processes an organization has in place to capture, disseminate, and use customer information for the purpose of cultivating and managing customer relationships.
More specifically, customer engagement addresses a few key questions:
- How actively is an organization learning more about customer experience?
- How highly does an organization prioritize engagement across all service and support channels throughout the entire customer journey?
- How do existing customer engagement strategies contribute to happier, more successful customers?
A survey from PwC found that speed and efficiency (80%), knowledgeable and helpful employees (78%), and convenience (77%) matter most to customers. Meeting these expectations in the context of customer support means putting the systems, tools, and resources in place to capture and disseminate customer information across every touchpoint.
Doing so not only enables agents, employees, and customers but provides opportunities to learn valuable information about what makes customers tick. This is the true value of customer engagement.
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Important customer engagement touchpoints
To meet customers where they expect to be met—to learn about their wants, needs, and expectations—we need to understand all the ways they interact with us throughout the entire customer journey. Here are some common service and support touchpoints:
- Physical locations
These channels provide more than just a medium for support interactions—they are opportunities for engaging customer service. According to the same report from Marketo mentioned above, 74% of B2B consumers and 56% of B2C consumers think it is important to have their profile data integrated across all touchpoints.
That is, customers expect you to already know a lot about them however and whenever they reach out. The products they use. Their location and profile information. What their problem is and even what solutions they’ve already attempted. If you can give them the info they need to self-solve right then and there, wherever they are, all the better.
Failing to engage customers this way can create frustration, increase customer effort, and ultimately impede a customer’s ability to be successful.
Six strategies for improved customer engagement
Customer engagement is not some pie in the sky—it is not just a school of thought. There are tangible touchpoints and proven strategies that can enhance customer engagement and pay dividends both for the customer and the organization.
1. Embrace omnichannel support
When seeking support, customers expect omnichannel to happen (and for good reason). Consider this example:
An inbound support ticket is assigned to a support agent. The agent starts from the top, asking questions the customer has already answered, attempting solutions the customer has already tried. This customer grows increasingly frustrated because the agent doesn’t seem to know much about them—they don’t even know that the customer has already been transferred and even perused some knowledge base articles before opening the ticket.
This scenario is often the result of a poorly integrated multi-channel support experience.
In an omnichannel support experience, a support agent has all requisite information about the customer—product, interaction history, even search terms and viewed content—no matter which channel (email, chat, etc.) they are supporting.
2. Empower your employees with knowledge
In the same report from PwC, only 44% of customers reported confidence in an employee’s understanding of their needs. How, then, do we empower our employees—customer service and support agents, namely—to better understand customers?
One way is to make product knowledge and support content immediately available across all support channels. Some knowledge management solutions, for example, include a CRM integration that limits context switching by allowing agents to capture, create, refine, reuse, and share content in-the-flow.
3. Listen to customer feedback
Engagement also means being a good listener. This includes customer feedback. Customer feedback can be a valuable source of both qualitative and quantitative information about the customer experience.
Here are some of our favorite resources on how to understand and leverage customer feedback. Each includes detailed approaches to extracting important information from customer feedback data, all written by industry experts and experienced practitioners.
- Drive Customer Experience and Outcomes with CX Data
- How to Learn from Bad Net Promoter Scores
- 3 Common Mistakes that Negatively Impact Customer Effort Score
- Why Machine Learning is the Hero of Customer Feedback Analysis
- Use Machine Learning to Analyze Support Tickets and Survey Responses
4. Measure product usage
Another way to learn from customers is to monitor product usage. How and when are customers using certain features, for example? Are there features that commonly lead to support tickets? Or features that customers don’t use at all?
Product usage data can help you make informed updates or changes to a product, all based on the way customers actually use it.
5. Celebrate customer success
Holding up standout customers with innovative or highly successful use cases is a great way to keep customers engaged. Apart from demonstrating a company’s willingness to engage during the post-sale journey, it shows other customers how they can be successful, too. Here are a few examples:
6. Make and measure support content
Self-service support content can be a significant source of customer information. Using content analytics, for instance, companies can understand how, when, and where customers interact with service and support. This can include in-product help, knowledge base articles, and product documentation.
The data can help answer a few essential questions:
- What are customers searching for?
- Where are customers accessing self-service content?
- How do they typically arrive at a piece of content?
- What content to people look at before submitting a support case?
- What are the common issues that you don’t have content for?
The view from outside in
There is a common aspect to both understanding and improving customer engagement: empathy. It’s an ongoing, ever-improving practice of first understanding and then delivering what customers need to be happy and successful.
Indeed, looking from the outside inward means putting the customer first—not for the sake of trite organizational objectives, but for the sake of engaging customer service that is timely, relevant, creates value to their customer experience.
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