Creating higher-impact interactions
Deeper engagement requires the ability to have more meaningful customer conversations. Current thinking about customer relationship management software (CRM) — which many companies already use to track contacts and keep in touch with customers — suggests you use it as part of a larger customer journey strategy. For example, a CRM system can be deployed to develop connections with potential customers who have visited the home page by sending relevant, timely messages to them. “That technology can be used to nurture these leads with material designed not to sell, but to provide useful information,” says Wall.
A company’s CRM software needs aren’t static, however. If, for example, a food or healthcare business is facing a surge in demand, it may need to upgrade to a system that allows for a larger customer database, more sophisticated data and analytic capabilities or other features.
Many companies are also introducing apps to boost customer engagement by fostering more convenient interactions; some are using apps to make it easier for customers to check in for appointments from outside of the building.
B2B companies are also using apps to improve communication with customers, nurture leads, and stay top-of-mind. That includes anything from monitoring customer behavior and sending targeted offers and upgrades, to pushing out reminders about service renewals or scheduled maintenance.
It is particularly critical in today’s more mobile environment to interact with customers wherever they happen to be. For that reason, many companies are integrating their chat capabilities with popular conversation platforms like Google Assistant, Slack and Facebook Messenger. For instance, a B2B company that knows a client uses Slack internally can invite a team within the client firm into a private channel on the app to converse about a challenge that may take a few days or weeks to resolve. This is a method that may feel more customized than issuing support tickets.
Given the speed of change in many industries, some companies are creating their own apps using rapid application development tools. Known as low-code and no-code platforms, these technologies allow even non-technical employees to build software. That’s of urgent importance in light of today’s widespread shortage of engineers.
Stewarding stronger brand equity
In an environment where the trust companies build with customers matters more than ever, many companies are now focused on building brand equity — the social value of their brand. “While we can’t control what customers think and feel about our brand, we can strengthen it through certain activities,” says Wall.
“Social listening” tools such as Awario and Mention let companies monitor what customers are saying about their products or services on social media sites. Thus, these tools can notify businesses if a customer makes a complaint, allowing the company to quickly respond. One quick-service restaurant supplier Wall advised used a social listening tool to find out why sales from one eatery it served had dipped. That helped the establishment boost sales through marketing messages addressing customer concerns about its food preparation that had surfaced on social media. “You can manage a lot of conversations in a powerful way,” says Wall.
In another instance, a financial forecasting technology company that serves CPAs decided to newly target venture capital firms. It used social listening tools to learn about challenges facing the new market and identify influential bloggers. By doing so, the company was able to find ways to connect with and deliver engaging content both during its initial outreach and afterwards, with already-established clients.
At a time of great uncertainty, when businesses seek a reliable path to continued profitability, building stronger customer relationships is of paramount importance. The right approach to leveraging useful technology tools can go a long way when working to achieve success.