Cutting Through the Noise with Customer Engagement

The world may be more connected than ever, but people are tuning out. If you're looking to grow organically, customer engagement has to be a priority.


Jana Barrett

December 9, 2016

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The world may be more connected than ever, but people are tuning out. Inundated by marketing messaging, consumers are becoming increasingly selective with their attention.

So if you’re looking to increase your company’s organic growth, you have to find ways to meaningfully engage with your audience. Though many companies try addressing customer engagement in more integrated ways, they often don’t know how or where to start.

Below we’ll cover four customer engagement strategies that help drive brand loyalty.

4 Top Customer Engagement Strategies

1. Develop an emotional connection with customers.

Customer engagement isn’t born from competitive price points or aggressive campaigns. Recent research by Gallup suggests that positive employee-customer interactions build an emotional connection with a brand. And these emotions influence buying decisions.

In fact, Gallup defines customer engagement on that premise, calling it the emotional connection between customer and company. Logically, the customers who are most emotionally engaged with a brand will spend more and spread the word. On the other hand, disengaged customers will deter others from buying.

Gallup isn’t the only research company fascinated with this idea. Harvard Business Review (HBR) is also conducting research on how customer emotions contribute to business growth across hundreds of brands and several industries.

So far, HBR’s findings suggest it’s possible to target and measure feelings that drive customer behavior. These “emotional motivators” can also be leveraged to increase customer engagement.

According to the study, one bank successfully introduced a credit card for Millennials by developing an emotional connection with the consumers. The promotion showed a 70% increase in credit card usage and a 40% rise in new account growth. It’s clear—harnessing emotion pays off.

The chart below shows the top “emotional motivators” across the HBR study, with a list of corresponding ideas for how to leverage them.

But as HBR points out, identifying customers’ “emotional motivators” is as good as guesswork for most companies. The motivators above certainly don’t speak to every customer and every brand. The best way to identify your own audience’s desires and needs is to collect customer data, then leverage it.

Bottom line: Customers crave an emotional connection with brands. The greater the connection, the more likely they are to stick around. Consider your audience’s primary values and how your brand aligns with those.

2. Hold a customer engagement summit.

Company-wide meetings typically cover goals, strategy, and revenue. But McKinsey & Company notes that a rather obvious talking point is missing there: the customer.

Their suggestion? Companies should host regular customer engagement summits to talk through engagement methods and reevaluate their overall approach.

A few necessities:

  1. Include all executives and representatives from each department.

  2. Focus on customer engagement—and customer engagement only. This time is best spent brainstorming long-term routes to customer engagement & loyalty.

  3. Include all internal and external resources, like content and communications, key customer engagement metrics, products, customer experience design and delivery, product innovation, brand reputation, and more.

Company-wide summits help the entire organization align on one central goal. This encourages buy-in across departments and ultimately leads to better results.

The bottom line: Strategic conversations should always involve the customer. They’re who you want to recreate. Make customer engagement a priority at the top level of your company, and show each department how it contributes to your vision.

3. Use social media as an engagement tool.

The average social media user spends almost 2 hours a day browsing social media. Marketers realized long ago that they could harness this power for lead generation and brand awareness, but social media is a hotbed for customer engagement too.

First, it can serve as highly effective support channel. In fact, Nielsen found that 33% of consumers actually prefer contacting companies via social media rather than calling customer service.

When you treat social media as a legitimate support channel, you multiply the paths customers can take to reach you. And when you make customer support seamless and consistent across all channels, you end up with today’s gold standard for customer support: the omnichannel customer experience.

Plus, the visibility of social care interactions can play to your advantage. If you resolve an issue that multiple users were facing or just exhibit the company’s high customer care standards publicly, you’ll likely gain a few fans in the process.

Look at the time Whole Foods responded to a customer’s tweet about trash bags, of all things, and ensured at least one more follow-up visit in the process.

social media support - Whole Foods - customer engagement

Then there’s the time Pottery Barn used social media to initiate a conversation after a bad customer experience. By the end of it, the customer was publicly praising the retail giant.

social media support - Pottery Barn - customer engagement

Social media offers customers greater freedom to connect to and talk about your brand—positively or negatively. In fact, 45% of customers have shared bad experiences on social media, and churn can increase by up to 15% if businesses fail to reply to customer concerns over social. When you prioritize social engagement, you have an opportunity to join a conversation you’d otherwise be missing.

Social media also serves as a valuable data source. With the power of permissions through social login, you can collect and leverage data to create a more powerful, personal, and valuable experience for your customers.

Lenovo has experienced success with this approach. By analyzing data they received from social media, they’ve discovered new trends and tailored their messaging accordingly.

Bottom line: Social media is a powerful customer engagement tool. Customers already spend time in that space every day, and they want to talk to you there. Step into the conversation and you’ll reap the benefits.

4. Ask for feedback directly.

It’s near impossible to gauge how satisfied or unsatisfied your customers are without direct feedback. This is where customer surveys come in handy.

Every customer interaction is an opportunity for growth, but it’s easy to miss out on their thoughts. Most customers won’t offer unsolicited feedback unless they’re particularly happy or unhappy—and even then, some just remain silent.

If you take the time to implement a strategic customer feedback program that prioritizes engagement, you can capture customer feedback across the scale of customer satisfaction. That includes the silent majority that lingers somewhere between happy and not-so-happy.

The results? A clearer picture of your entire customer base.

Here are some customer survey tips that boost customer engagement and survey response rates:

  • When measuring customer service satisfaction, try sending the CSAT survey when the issue is considered resolved—not after every interaction. Customer support teams will often have a CSAT question (e.g. Please rate my response…) embedded in their email signatures. This can lead to flawed results that represent just a sliver of the overall interaction. Instead, try triggering CSAT surveys when a support case is marked “closed.” If your surveys integrate with Salesforce, you can set up Salesforce workflow to trigger CSAT surveys when specific conditions are met (i.e. the case is marked closed). This helps eliminate the manual work your team is doing to collect feedback.

  • Create mobile surveys that reflect your brand standards. When some people hear “survey,” they think “10 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.” Consumers are used to mind-numbing questionnaires with a scantron-like user experience. When you surprise them with a beautiful, branded survey that works across all devices, you’ll set the tone for your feedback program. The next time you ask that customer for feedback, they know they can expect a great experience.

  • Tailor the survey to the customer. Like email marketing, personalization is a huge survey engagement tactic. Just including someone’s name tends to increase open and response rates. You can go even further using features like survey piping and survey logic. Both allow you to customize the questions and answers respondents see, which makes your survey more relevant—and thus more enjoyable—for the respondent. The relevancy of their feedback and the integrity of your data just so happens increases along with it.

  • Don’t forget to follow up. Feedback isn’t the outcome—it’s the catalyst for change. If you receive a negative customer rating, you need to act on that feedback to change the trajectory. That may mean contacting an unhappy customer to repair the relationship, or showing a happy customer gratitude for their loyalty. As mentioned above, Salesforce survey workflows help automate the follow-up process. You can set up automatic alerts to initiate action as soon as feedback comes in.

  • Use the data you collect to inform your business strategy. Sales, marketing, product development, customer support, and more all hinge on an audience. That audience includes more than just customers—it’s full of prospects, subscribers, partners, and people you don’t even know are listening. But every department wants to turn those audience members into customers eventually, so feedback from existing customers is the obvious way to get there. Use their voices to frame your strategy, and you’ll find a lot more voices.


We hear it all the time: “Customers are the lifeblood of an organization.” The more you work to engage them, the stronger that pulse becomes.

And as research shows, customer engagement is born from connection. Your customers connect to your people and ultimately your brand. As you build customer relationships, you also build the voices and the dialogue that will carry your brand forward.

Companies know how much customers matter, but they don’t often think about customer engagement strategically. Sure, social media matters, but how much?

Yes, customer feedback is important, but what do we do with it?

The first step is joining the conversation. When companies prioritize customer engagement, they begin hearing the voice of the customer.

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