Do you have an active engagement strategy that considers how talking to your customers might make them more loyal to your brand? Or is your team just reacting to whatever is thrown at them, hoping that by answering everything you can make it through the day and the customers will all be happy?

Whatever the maturity of your engagement strategy, this is an area that is constantly changing. The area of loyalty is becoming particularly important now, with many customers preferring engagement, and the structure of a relationship with a brand, to any kind of formal loyalty schemes.

I believe that there are five key lessons worth remembering about planning engagement strategies – and these come direct from my own experience of helping clients plan this:

  1. The customer chooses their channel; if the customer chooses a particular channel then that is where you need to answer them. Can you imagine receiving a phone call from a retailer where the agent says ‘we are calling about your tweet…’ that would feel very strange. Stick to the channel the customer has chosen.
  2. You don’t need to answer every comment; Triage customer comments on social network channels into three groups. First, those that need urgent attention. Second, those worth a reply, but are not urgent. Third, those that are not worth responding to as they are not about support anyway – and if abusive then possibly these comments are worth deleting.
  3. Customers often jump channels; a conversation started by email may progress to Twitter and back. The customer chooses their channel, but they also have the right to change channel. Sometimes it may be easier for the customer to use email during the day, but then they prefer social networks in the evening. Build enough flexibility into your systems to offer enough omnichannel intelligence to handle this.
  4. Don’t force a channel change; I have seen some organizations tweet an auto response to customers mentioning their brand on Twitter, giving an email address and saying this is how to reach us. This is wrong on several levels. Not only are you forcing the customer to change channel once they have already made the effort to get in touch, but you are dictating which channels can and cannot be used. Remember point one from above?
  5. Respect privacy; I just said that a channel change cannot be forced, but if personal information needs to be shared then you may be forced to suggest the customer uses an alternative – more private – channel. However, where a normally public network like Twitter has the option to switch a conversation into direct private messages this should be explored before just asking the customer to call.

Engagement is becoming a critical part of serving customers and building a relationship with them, but it is still clear that some companies are just building a multichannel customer service solution without really thinking about engagement and how strategic it is for their business.

What do you think about these five lessons from my experience? What would you add? Get in touch with me via LinkedIn to discuss further.