Take a minute and answer the following questions:
- Would you like your software product to have supremely loyal customers?
- Would you like to have customers who can recommend their friends (other businesses) to buy product from you?
- Would you like your software product to hit such a sweet note with your customers that they can’t wait to try your other products or add-on features to an existing one?
- Would you like to not just meet your customer needs but exceed their expectations?
A strong customer engagement strategy is the answer to obtaining all of these fringe benefits. When done properly, it is the foundation of a relationship that values ongoing trust, communication, customer attrition and steady growth.
Before we even get into how proper customer engagement is done, let’s just do away with the myth that customer engagement can be achieved in a single day, week or even a month. With all of the information floating on the web and the rising power of social media and web search networks, it has become crucial to capture and retain the attention of your customer. According to a study by Bain & Company, it costs 6–7 times more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one. An engaged customer is a more valuable customer.
Customer engagement is a lot like a real life engagement. Once you put a ring on it, the real work begins. We have created this 5-step immediately actionable list of steps that you can implement to streamline your strategy:
1.) Keep them star crossed
You have provided your customers with an amazing piece of software – that is a great first step. Now, think of ways to innovate your product that will make the customer experience even more exciting. When you are passionate about your product and making the customer happy, it shows through. Customize your software, add new features and consider upselling or even cross-selling in a way that will multiply benefits for your customer.
A great example for this is Hubspot, a Software-as-a-service (SaaS) product that started out as an all-in-one marketing automation software. Over time, they saw the need to integrate marketing with sales to provide a comprehensive platform for all their customers. And that’s when they came up with the Hubspot CRM (customer relationship management). They made their already happy customers even happier by giving them a product that addressed their need to integrate sales and marketing activities (perhaps, even before they thought of the convenience themselves!)
2.) Go Agile
Agile is crucial in increasing customer engagement. A prominent advantage of implementing an Agile model is that, you can get customer feedback throughout the software development cycle. The customer is constantly kept in the loop and has access to review and suggest improvements at every phase. As a result of frequent communication, reflective changes become easy, which directly increases customer satisfaction.
3.) Help them achieve their best
This is often a hard to grasp concept. As a profit-oriented business, we tend to forget that sometimes, it just isn’t all about us. Think about ways in which you are helping your customer achieve their highest business potential. Help them become better by providing valuable education that helps them get better at their jobs. Provide resources, training, helpbooks, seminars, webinars, conduct meetups, workshops etc. to help them get better at using your software. If you help another person excel, your brand will resonate with them much stronger than it world ever otherwise.Help your buyers reach their level of ownership!
4.) Get their point of view
Just like in any relationship, it is important to show people how important they are. Getting your customer’s point of view on your existing product or a yet to be released one, can be a win-win situation for you. Not only does it give you ideas to improve, directly from the user, but you are also showing your customer how valuable they are to you. Sending emails, newsletters or organizing a meetup to release new features is a great way to connect with your customers. Even the most powerful executives connect best with and trust people that are making the effort to stay in touch with them. As a software vendor, are you making effort to understand their ongoing challenges and providing solutions either through information or upgraded solutions? Despite all the intelligence, techniques and technology, it all comes down to building an authentic relationship with potential buyers.
5.) Align all your forces
Your entire organization should be up to speed with customer engagement because it is no longer just a sales and marketing activity. It should span all other departments, including operations, finance, HR and so on. This complete alignment will showcase your organization as one that values its customers in a holistic manner.
There is no B2B or B2C anymore. It's all about P2P (person-to-person). Customers are real people with real world needs. It’s time for software businesses to find the right balance between seamless product experience, and ongoing communication with their customers and prospects to build a relationship that is going to last.
What are the unique ways in which you connect with your customers? Share your ideas in comments below!