Customer Engagement in the New Normal

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Change is the one constant in the world of business, and the recent business year is a clear example of this and how change can affect the manner in which business is conducted. However, some things will not change, and the importance of your customers or clients to your overall success is one such constant. However, the unavoidable change is the ongoing need to understand and communicate with your customers and the means that will be used to do so.

Business in the current era

As a whole, business has struggled over the last 18-24 months. While the economic impact is not measured to be as severe as the Great Depression, research shows it is about three times as severe as the 2008 Financial Crisis in terms of decline in GDP. The Global economy has changed forever, and this will have a lasting effect on US business. In the US, there has been a resurgence and the economy has begun to recoup most of the losses, but these have been in new and innovate ways.  It is an era of flux and fluidity, and businesses must be adaptable to survive. The one thing that remains key is the interaction that business has with their customers and clients.

Customers are still key, why?

In order to determine what the new normal will look like for your business, it is essential to have a great feedback loop with your customers.

· Transparency is important between the business and its customer base.

Your customers need to know that you are open and honest, and the best way for them to be assured of this is in communication with them. Keeping them informed about product releases as well as any issues with the product must be part of your planned communication with clients and customers. Cost, for example, is one of the key areas in which you will need to have transparency, so there must be no hidden costs, and your customers should be aware of all your costs upfront.

· Build trust in the business.

The more often and more meaningful the contact with your customers the better chance of building a trustworthy relationship. This is one of the most important aspects of business sustainability and growth. The way misinformation is currently rife could be an opportunity to leverage customer loyalty. Research shows that almost 20% of US customers would stop engaging with a business that contradicted its values. Walking the talk is, therefore, extremely important to not only ensure you live your values but build customer loyalty and trust at the same time.

· Understand your customer needs.

A fluent communication strategy will allow your business to get an in-depth understanding of your customer needs. This is key to the success of your business as you cannot meet customer needs unless you know specifically what these are and how they change over time. This also means adapting your communication strategy to the diverse and divergent needs of different target customers. Whether you are targeting millennials or older customers, knowing how to communicate with them effectively and how they want to communicate with you is important.

· Build a sustainable relationship with customers.

Every business dreams of building a relationship with its customers, and this is the pinnacle of the business client interaction, which can only be built and strengthened using clear communication. This comes back to the point about trust, and ensuring that your customers trust you builds loyalty and thus sustainable relationships. This can also be harnessed through an emotional relationship with your customers, where the interaction between business and customer goes beyond transaction-based activities to more long-term, powerful relationships.

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How to effectively communicate with your customer base

There are so many options for customer engagement, and your business must be sure to choose the right means and methods of engagement to suit your business and your customers.

Your choice of the exact means of communication will depend on:-

  • What your customers use. Know whether to target your customers via social media or more traditional communications is key to any good communication strategy. There is no value in investing in a wholly digital communications plan if your core customer base is not digitally active.
  • Whether your customers communication habits can be changed. Suppose you know your customers might currently not be reachable on a particular platform. In that case, your strategy should assess whether changing their habits is more cost-effective and will bring in long-term results than adjusting your own outputs instead.
  • What’s trending in communication. The trend for online and digital communication is expected to continue unabated in the coming years, but there are niche areas of growth. For example, the current trend in virtual events and communication may have reached its peak and may be on the way out, but whether it continues in the future is a trend to watch and will influence any business communication strategy.
  • Customer needs. Needs and wants are quite different things, and as consumers become more environmentally conscious and perhaps less consumer-driven than previously, tapping into the needs that are currently in your sector will significantly influence your communication strategy and require good planning to adapt to changing market demands.
  • Your business needs. Central to any communication strategy and planning for both small and large businesses is first understanding the needs of the business. If there are key areas of growth identified, these should be the priority for any communication with customers, whether new or old.

John Powell once said, “communication works for those who work at it” and this article has provided some insight into that work required. Communication with customers and clients is one of the absolute necessities for any business. In recent times, with the customer relationship moving online and dependent on the level of technology available, it is ever more critical to understand this new business normal and work within the given constraints to maintain and even improve your customer relationships in order to help your business.

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