Engaging a customer for the first time can feel much like approaching a crush that doesn't know you exist. You want to start a conversation, but you also want it to feel natural and sincere. If you come off as too eager or too interested in yourself, they'll probably move on to a competitor who has a better understanding of their needs.
Customer engagement is crucial to your business and it's a core step in HubSpot's flywheel model.
Knowing how to effectively engage your customers helps you attract and delight them at every turn in the customer journey. For service personnel, this means creating interactions that are positive, memorable, and unique to each customer. That's how you create an experience that sets you apart from your competitors.
Read on for some ideas for how your customer service teams can engage customers. Then, let's review some ways to re-engage old customers and look at a sample letter to help you do it.
How to Engage Customers
Monitor social media feedback.
Attend industry events.
Build a community forum.
Follow up on customer feedback.
Create a customer loyalty program.
Host a company tour.
Provide self-service resources.
1. Monitor social media feedback.
Social media has become a powerful feedback tool that provides up-to-date insight into how customers are feeling about your brand. 47% of customers with complaints will use social media to voice their opinions and most expect a response within minutes. This creates an excellent opportunity for your service team to delight frustrated customers.
By responding to tweets, posts, and comments, your service team showcases your customer service quality. If you successfully resolve the issue and satisfy the customer's needs, your social media following will witness it as well. And, that can lead to conversations with new leads and free word-of-mouth marketing for your brand.
2. Attend industry events.
When you attend a major conference, you probably send a marketing manager or salesperson to represent your company. But, sending a customer service employee can be a great way to attract new customers and educate them about your product.
For example, every year HubSpot hosts, Inbound, a marketing conference in Boston. Aside from the Inbound staff, HubSpot also sends its customer support team to assist attendees as well. These employees provide customer support to HubSpot users who are attending the conference. And, if someone decides to download HubSpot while they're at Inbound, the support staff is there to answer any immediate questions.
3. Build a community forum.
Community forums are a fun way to communicate with customers who are passionate about your business or industry. They bring customers together, giving those who love your brand a chance to tell others why it's so great. You can also leverage your forum as a customer service resource where reps answer questions that aren't addressed in your knowledge base or FAQs.
One company that has a great community forum is Xbox. Not only does Xbox host a space where users can help each other, but it also rewards people for participating in the community. Users can become, "Xbox Ambassadors" and receive a free "Xbox Live Gold Membership," as well as free games and brand merchandise. In return, they create promotional content and provide product feedback that Xbox uses to attract and engage more customers.
4. Ask questions.
One of the simplest ways to personalize a customer interaction is by asking questions. If you're working with a customer over the phone, in-person, or in a chat thread, ask them a question that doesn't relate to the inquiry. Even asking about their day is a great first step to developing rapport with them.
The one note to consider here is timing. If a customer seems frustrated or eager to resolve the issue, it may not be appropriate to ask a personal question. They may think you've lost focus or aren't interested in resolving their problem. Instead, wait for a lull in the action where neither party is doing much talking and you want to keep the conversation going.
5. Follow up on customer feedback.
Collecting customer feedback is great, and putting it to action is even better. But, a step that's often overlooked is follow up. Reps should respond to customers whenever they leave a review, regardless if it's positive or negative.
If it's a positive review, your rep should thank the customer to let them know that their feedback hasn't gone unnoticed. If it's a negative review, reps should spring into action to prevent potential churn. Regardless of the situation, reps should be looking for ways to extend customer engagement after a problem is resolved.
6. Create a customer loyalty program.
Customer loyalty programs are effective because they add value to the customer experience that goes beyond the initial purchase. This keeps customers engaged and interested in your brand's content, even if they're not actively looking to buy at the moment. By giving them access to promotional deals and discounts, customers will continue to open your newsletters, read your ads, and consider your company's products until they're ready to make a purchase.
7. Host a company tour.
Sometimes it's not just the product that makes your brand great, it's the people and systems that are supporting it that are incredible as well. Giving an inside look at your company and how it operates is a great way to attract potential customers and make them fall in love with your brand.
One popular example of this concept is brewery tours. Breweries will often host tours where customers can walk through the facility and sample products. Since beer is an incredibly crowded industry, this creates a personal connection between the brand and its customers. Customers don't just buy the beer because they like the taste, they buy it because they have the memories of touring the facility and engaging with the staff.
8. Provide self-service resources.
Customer self-service is often viewed as a retention tool, however, it also engages people who haven't purchased your product. For example, Hyundai has augmented reality user manuals where customers can explore the interior of a vehicle through overlayed features on a tablet's camera.
This service simplifies what could be a confusing user-interface. Instead, customers know exactly what each function does inside the car and can recall information without having to ask the sales rep. This reduces friction within the customer experience and helps salespeople close deals.
These tips should help you attract and engage new customers. But, don't make the mistake of overlooking one of your most valuable assets: existing customers. But reconnecting with them after months have gone by isn't always easy. It can feel awkward and uncomfortable, which is why so many people fail to re-engage them.
If you can learn to actively re-engage your existing customers on a regular basis, you'll stand out from the competition -- and find way more business in the process. Implement these simple tricks to re-engage your existing customers and drastically improve your retention rates this year.
How to Re-Engage Your Existing Customers for More Business
1. Send them a valuable note in the mail.
Your customers are probably inundated with phone calls and emails all day long. That's why an old-fashioned letter in the mail packs a big punch when it comes to re-engaging them. Write each of your existing customers a short note, accompanied by something valuable: an article they'd be interested in, a newsletter about their industry, or some other item that conveys useful knowledge.
Be sure to handwrite the address on the envelope and the note inside to make it as personal as possible. This simple act will strengthen your relationships and give customers a reason to think about you in a positive way.
2. Reach out with a "happy birthday."
Spend some time researching your customers on Google and Facebook to find out their birthdays (without being too creepy). Enter each date in your calendar or CRM so you'll automatically be reminded every year when their birthdays roll around. It's never been easier to discover someone's birthday, but the vast majority of salespeople and customer service reps don't say "happy birthday" to their customers. Stand out from the crowd by sending them a birthday email -- or, better yet, send them a physical birthday card in the mail every year.
3. Ask for introductions to new customers.
This trick has two powerful benefits for you: You'll reconnect with existing customers while simultaneously getting leads for new business. Give your customers a call and ask if they'd be willing to introduce you to some people in their world who might benefit from your product or service. A conversation like this is a powerful way to re-engage customers you haven't spoken to in a while and remind them of the benefits of working with you. If you're persistent with this approach, you'll also generate new leads.
4. Regularly request customer feedback.
To make your customers feel valued, understood, and important, ask them for feedback. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not regularly requesting customer feedback -- on everything from their products and services to the current state of the industry. Your customers will love being asked for their opinions, and you'll also learn a great deal from their responses. Create a scheduled plan for sending emails and surveys to request feedback from your existing customer base every few months.
5. Host a customer event twice a year.
Everyone loves being invited to exclusive events, and your existing customers are no exception. Hosting events is a powerful way to compel your existing customers to reconnect with you face-to-face. Rent out a room at a local hotel or restaurant and plan to share some exciting new industry insights. If you host a private event like this twice a year, you'll ensure you don't lose touch with your customers for more than six months at a time.
6. Invite them out for a bite to eat.
Treat your existing customers to breakfast or lunch. This vastly underutilized strategy is an easy way to strengthen your bond with them. Meet your customers near where they work during the week, and use a quick meal as an opportunity to find out what's new in their world and remain top-of-mind.
7. Call them with a clear purpose.
When you pick up the phone to re-engage your existing customers, make sure you have a reason to do so. Just saying things like"hi" or "I'm checking in to see what's going on" is a surefire way to annoy your customers and make them start screening your calls. Instead, have a clear purpose in mind when you call. Maybe you want to tell them about your company's newest offer, or let them know about a special deal that's going on this week. Whatever it is, it must be valuable enough to warrant a phone call during their busy day.
8. Send them your favorite business book.
What's the best business book you've read in recent years? It's time to put together packages for your existing customers. Include a personalized, handwritten note to each, explaining why you loved the book and think they would enjoy it too. Very few organizations reach out to their customers in this way -- you'll immediately set yourself apart. And your customers will think of you every time they see the book sitting on the shelf in their office.
9. Share their content on social media.
Make sure you're following your customer on different social media platforms so you can keep in touch with them. By keeping track with what they're posting and what's happening with their company, you'll be able to identify what cross-selling or upselling offers will be the best fit for them, and you'll be able to build rapport with them by sharing their accolades and published writings to keep up a business friendship.
Sample Letter to Reconnect with Old Clients
Here's a template you can use to reach out to re-engage your clients via email to re-open the lines of communication:
I hope you're doing well! How were the holidays for you? I hope the beginning of 2019 is treating you and [Company] well.
I saw your LinkedIn post about [Topic] earlier this week, and I wanted to check in to see if you wanted to hop on a call and talk about your [Topic] strategy for the year. We've launched a few new tools in the last year that might be helpful in your approach that I'd love to tell you more about. What's your schedule like this week?