Customer engagement encompasses all of the experiences and touchpoints a customer has with an organization’s products, services and employees. Forbes recently published its latest list of the top 50 Most Engaged Companies. These organizations offer consistent experiences, perform customer data analyses and design their teams in a matter that enables employees to prioritize the customer.
Think about your top places to shop, dine, work-out, etc. and consider why they are your favorites. For example, if you feel excited, happy, or relieved when you walk in, why? Are you pleased when you see your favorite employee or even try to stop in when you think they may be working?
If you apply the following two tactics to improve your level of customer engagement, you’ll not only encounter happier customers, but your organization will benefit from less customer churn and employee turnover.
1. Keep heads up and devices down. Whether I’m checking-in at the airport, waiting for a new car sales associate to give me a quote or looking at a menu at a casual restaurant, it seems that every employee is glued to their smart phone. Of course emergencies happen that require immediate attention, however focusing on a personal electronic device should be the exception, not the rule. Some organizations have policies discouraging the use of personal electronic devices and rightly so. Customers often feel ignored and far from important when they have to fight for an associate’s attention.
To avoid appearing rude or unhelpful, practice Dale Carnegie’s 19th Human Relations principle, ‘Appeal to nobler motives,’ by putting the device down and looking up at your customers. Look them directly in the eyes and ‘Smile,’ Mr. Carnegie’s 5th principle. These two non-verbal statements actually send the message, “You are important to me and I’m genuinely happy to help you today.” As the customer begins speaking, practice #7, ‘Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.’
2. Punch up the personalization. Although his 6th principle is, ‘Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language,’ there are umpteen ways to personalize the customer experience beyond greeting them by name—which you should do whenever possible. As you interact and receive information, use it as input to suggest another product or service from which the customer could benefit. Or, simply engage them in conversation if time allows.
I often talk about my children when evaluating product options and sometimes a sales associate helps me decide by suggesting something based on what she heard. For example, when choosing pants for my son at Nordstrom—#10 on the list, the associate suggested a more expensive pair of pants than the pair I was considering. After explaining that my son’s legs grow quickly while his waist stays the same, she suggested a pair with an adjustable length. I didn’t mind paying more for the comfort of knowing I won’t be back in a month buying yet another pair—yet I’ll definitely remain a loyal customer.