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You can turn your most disengaged customer into your most loyal advocate: here’s how

By Brent Haumann, Managing Director at Tilte

We live in a time when it’s more difficult than ever to hold a customer’s attention. At any given time, after all, most people have a world of information and entertainment at their fingertips. Your organisation’s customer engagement efforts had better really stand out if it’s going to compete with that. 

We also live in a time, however, where customer loyalty and advocacy is more important than ever. Loyal customers are, after all, likely to make bigger purchases than first-time customers. Happy customers are also more likely to act as brand advocates, recommending your product or service to others. That makes it critical that you provide them with the best possible experience from day one. 

All too often, however, organisations have treated these as two separate issues. But by bridging the gap between existing digital customer engagement systems and the ultimate customer experience, they yield some serious wins. In fact, the organisations that get this right can turn even their most disengaged customers into loyal advocates. 

Recognising customer shifts 

Before looking at how organisations can best go about bridging that gap, it’s worth providing some context around how big the shifts in the customer experience and engagement spaces have been. 

In 2018, Gartner described customer experience as the “new marketing battlefront”. A year before, the research company found that two-thirds of organisations compete primarily on customer experience. By 2019, that figure had risen to 81%. Today, it sits at over 90%.

But just because companies understand the need to provide great customer experiences, doesn’t mean they’re providing them. US research released this year shows that customer experience quality dropped for 19% of brands. That means nearly a fifth of brands are providing worse experiences than they did in 2021. 

That presents a clear danger when it comes to customer retention. After all, 80% of customers have switched brands after a bad experience. 

And there’s an important interplay between customer experiences and customer engagement. Functionally acting as two sides of the same coin, they influence and subsidise each other in the process of creating loyal advocates. By building a frictionless customer experience, you make it easier to build a strong, lasting relationship with your customers.  

It should hardly be surprising then that there’s been a massive shift here too. Where brands were previously able to focus on a few, select channels, today they need to be prepared to engage with their customers where they are and at the time of their choosing. They also need to provide the biggest possible impact while doing so. 

That’s because, even on a channel that’s designed for longer forms of engagement, organisations don’t have that much time to grab a customer’s attention. Take email, for example. If a customer opens a brand email (something that’s far from a given), they will spend an average of just 10 seconds reading it. That’s a number, incidentally, that’s fallen over the past couple of years.   

Simplifying, individualising, and maximising engagement      

It’s therefore critical that organisations start viewing customer engagement as a holistic part of the customer experience and integrate it accordingly. That means engaging in ways that are simple, personalised to each individual customer, and designed to maximise engagement. But how might that look practically? 

Let’s take insurance as an example. If an insurer needs a customer to update their policy, they could email a full breakdown, hoping that the customer figures out what’s changed or is just happy to accept and sign. But that doesn’t provide a very good experience. For that matter neither does a push notification or an instant message, which makes use of the same tactic.  

A far better approach would be to provide a simple outline of the changes, coupled with an explanation of what they mean for that customer based on their claims history. For any organisation serious about customer experience, being able to easily pull the customer data to do so shouldn’t be an issue. The communication should also include calls to action to either, accept and sign or request more information (or even have a human agent walk them through the changes). 

The same level of care and personalisation should be taken with every engagement an organisation has with a customer, whether it’s billing, sales, or customer service. Taken in totality, these engagements all add up to the kind of great customer experiences that engender long-term loyalty. 

The right tools and the right partners 

Of course, organisations aren’t going to get this right from day one. Technology can help accelerate it, but building great customer experiences is a process and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Here, having a customer engagement partner that understands your organisation and which has extensive on-the-ground experience is critical. 

It’s also worth pointing out, however, that organisations can’t simply hope to take such an approach in the indeterminate future. After all, their customers won’t wait. That’s especially true if a competing organisation shows that it understands what they want. 

Those that get it right, however, can turn even their most disengaged customer into their most loyal advocate. 

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