Customer engagement is the key to success in the digital economy. That's because, while companies are growing and evolving, their customers are doing the same, and they want more personalized experiences that make them feel both respected and valued.
Gone are the days when the price was a differentiating factor in selecting a product. Consumers now consider Quality of Experience (QoE) the number one differentiator between offerings. This trend is now changing the landscape of marketing and sales operations, making QoE more critical than price.
The journey to becoming a customer-centric business is long and challenging but not impossible. As the famous Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”, similarly implementing an effective customer engagement platform is that single step in improving your customer experience (CX) strategy.
In this blog:
- What is a customer engagement platform (CEP)?
- Benefits of a customer engagement platform
- Customer engagement platform vs. CRM
- Must-have features of customer engagement platforms
- How to choose the right customer engagement tool for your business
What is a customer engagement platform?
A customer engagement platform (CEP) is a unified portal that monitors, controls, and supports every customer interaction across multiple touchpoints. Customer engagement platforms empower companies to create personalized customer journeys and deliver engaging experiences across channels.
Consider a customer engagement software tool as your command center. It unifies all mediums customer service and marketing teams use to communicate with consumers, including customer relationship management (CRM) systems, email, SMS, messaging, click-to-call, chat agents, chatbots, etc. A CEP breaks down the silos between analytics, engagement, and automation to enable your business to understand user behavior better. This technology helps account-based revenue teams boost efficiency in acquisition, retention, upsell, cross-sell, and growth.
A customer engagement platform enables your customer service teams to focus on long-term growth goals by simplifying workflows, boosting collaborations, and task automation. Without a customer engagement tool, your teams will spend significant time and effort optimizing engagement activities. Simply incorporating an engagement platform can increase your team's productivity in making data-driven choices and multiply engagement metrics.
80% of customers are likelier to buy from a company that provides a tailored experience. Source: Startup Bonsai
Benefits of a customer engagement platform
A robust customer engagement software should enable businesses to simplify overall customer interactions by giving them an outstanding experience. Here are the key benefits of implementing this tool.
Improve revenue growth
A CEP’s data-driven processes empower customer-facing teams to understand interactions of customers with the business, and monitor activities contributing to profit growth. Your teams can now correlate profits to each activity using capabilities like data science, machine learning, multivariate testing, and conversation analysis, detecting what works and what doesn't. The teams can then focus on tasks that will have the most significant impact on the bottom line.
Improve user retention and customer lifetime value (CLM)
Customers are 93% more likely to make repeat purchases from businesses offering exceptional customer experience and support. Customer engagement platforms help companies retain consumers by providing better experiences, which translates into more resources spent per customer over an extended period.
Provide a world-class experience
73% of consumers wouldn’t hesitate to switch businesses after a negative experience. Consumers expect companies to communicate with them and address their issues as part of the customer experience. The goal is to maintain constant engagement and provide value to consumers in their preferred communication channels.
Customer engagement software enables teams to focus on specific user segments and find gaps to provide value by automating monotonous routine tasks, optimizing user workflows, and offering behavioral insights, resulting in a satisfying customer journey.
Offer exceptional personalization and insights
Another advantage of a customer engagement tool is that it enables businesses to boost relevance at every touchpoint through unparalleled personalization and analytics. Companies can engage with consumers precisely, whenever and wherever they choose. This is possible by developing highly tailored experiences using first-party customer data that, in turn, improves their CX strategies.
Modern CEPs use customer data platforms (CDPs) to aggregate first-party data from multiple sources, such as mobile apps, websites, and point-of-sale (POS) systems. This offers a single view of customer data that the CDP will analyze and process to provide a more tailored experience for each buyer.
Improve customer loyalty and foster strong connections
By displaying customer data across channels, a customer engagement system provides team members with the same information about a customer. When marketing teams access the same data and insights as a customer service or sales team, they can interact with the whole picture in mind. This helps the customers feel fully understood since they will regard their encounters with the company as a cohesive experience, cementing a strong, trustworthy, and engaging connection with them.
Going above and beyond your services, such as offering co-browsing or video chat, delivers a better conversational support experience. This brings actual value to your customers and develops a tribe of brand loyalists that’ll be deeply involved with your brand regardless of your product or service cost. Highly engaging and continuous contact with your consumers will foster trust and establish a community of happy buyers who advocate for your business and serve as influencers.
Customer engagement platform vs. CRM
A customer engagement platform (CEP) and a customer relationship management (CRM) system are both technologies that help better understand customers. They both aim to assist businesses to do the right thing, at the right time, with the right customer. However, some key differences between these technologies can help you decide which is best for your business.
Sales teams typically use CRM software to manage customer data and track sales opportunities. They collect information on how businesses engage with customers to improve marketing, drive revenue, and provide superior customer service. CRM platforms improve the customer experience by providing a system of record for consumer transactions, allowing companies to address wasteful sales and service operations, manage customer opportunities, and provide executive insight.
A CRM solution's data is employed to enhance sales and service discussions and is analyzed to support account-based initiatives and reports. CRM offers contact management, sales management, productivity, and more for sales teams.
Marketing teams use CRM tools to develop and manage customer marketing partnerships and campaigns. This gives sales and marketing teams a complete picture of leads and prospects and a better understanding of connections with accounts and leads. This allows them to:
- Close opportunities more quickly.
- Supervise connections and interactions.
- Determine which sales and marketing initiatives are the most effective.
- Match the appropriate resources with the proper markets and regions.
- Reach important decision-makers more quickly.
- Create and target compelling messages to convert potential leads into customers.
Customer engagement platforms are designed to help companies create personalized customer journeys and deliver integrated customer experiences across channels. Customer engagement tools gather data from multiple sources and analyze it to provide insights that can help businesses improve their CX strategy. It can automate repetitive tasks such as sending invitations and messages, gathering customer feedback via chat surveys or by making automated recommendations, which can free up time for your staff to focus on more critical tasks.
A CRM doesn't usually offer this type of automation. A CEP is a more powerful tool for managing customer engagement, while a CRM is better suited for driving sales and customer service processes.
If your main focus is on managing customer data and tracking sales opportunities, then a CRM system is likely a better fit for your business. However, a CEP is probably a better option if you're looking for technology to help you deliver an outstanding customer experience.
Must-have features of customer engagement platforms
CEPs are designed to help businesses personalize the customer experience and journey. To do this, they need to offer several features that allow for this level of customization. Here are some must-have features of customer engagement platforms:
Every day, you collect massive amounts of information about your consumers via different platforms, and a CEP allows you to put that data to good use. Customer engagement software can help you segment audience data, enabling you to detect and act on trends. It also implies that you can hyper-personalize your consumer conversations.
For instance, you can segment audience data based on the following:
- User persona
- User demographics
- User journey
- User behavior
Advanced customer data segmentation allows you to be valuable to diverse consumers and provide relevant, contextual, and tailored messages in their journey.
Customers often leave online transactions due to a lag in response time. As response time is essential to a successful customer support experience, live chat meets it by resolving concerns swiftly.
79% of businesses say offering live chat features have positively impacted sales, revenue, and customer loyalty. Source: Kayako
Businesses choose live chat software to provide real-time replies to their customers. Live chat often combines other engagement features, such as co-browsing, click-to-call and video, to offer an interactive experience. It can help capture your visitor's attention and engage them in conversation to help you understand buyer intent and the actions they want to take.
How can live chat help improve customer engagement?
- Live chat has the shortest queue time compared to other customer support mediums.
- It supports multiple conversations while being a low-cost support channel.
- Live chat routes inquiries to the relevant teams and allows agents to provide quick resolutions.
- Live chat lets your employees interact proactively with consumers and support them on their journey.
You can’t ignore chatbots in building customer engagement and enhancing customer loyalty. A chatbot is software that enables you to communicate with your customers. A good customer service chatbot can help you solve customer queries 24x7, even when your support teams are busy or unavailable.
There are various types of chatbots for different use cases. Rule-based chatbots are a fantastic option for basic business needs since they fulfill preset requirements and are simple to operate. These chatbots best respond to frequently asked questions (FAQs), offer first-level customer assistance, pre-qualify prospects, and gather data such as contact information, conveniently through forms.
AI chatbots are excellent for handling challenging scenarios since they can understand the context of the user inquiry and answer accordingly. These chatbots can offer a more personalized customer experience at every touchpoint. Hybrid chatbots are a mix of rule-based chatbots and AI-enabled bots. Such a chat agent can provide a more wholesome experience, as they can be designed to handle both simple and more complex inquiries.
The game changer is that CEPs can provide a blend of chatbot support and live chat services that can significantly shorten response times. Engagement software with live chat and bot capabilities assists in screening customers who can get the information they need in a knowledge base rather than contacting support. It also helps get to the heart of the customer's issue before reaching out to a support staff member.
A knowledge base is an effective tool for collecting, managing and sharing organizational knowledge. Most customer engagement solutions allow you to create your own knowledge base of help articles that consumers can use to find answers without needing to contact your support staff. Customers only need to submit a longtail term related to their problem into the search field, and the software will return all relevant help desk content from the knowledge base.
Chatbots can use an effective knowledge base to direct customers to the most appropriate solution for their inquiries. CEPs can also track the links clicked when consumers visit your knowledge base. You can also monitor if users get their queries addressed and keep track of the materials you have already published.
The growing number of devices and channels through which customers connect with businesses has been one of the challenges to improving customer satisfaction. During a service call, consumers can use a laptop, phone, iPad, or desktop, and they expect to be able to access some or all of those devices to find information or connect with a business.
Interacting with your consumers via multiple channels is essential and tracking their entire journey, irrespective of medium or device, enables employees to continuously offer proactive, personalized customer support. CEPs that optimize omnichannel interaction are excellent for maintaining consistent messaging across channels such as email, SMS, push notifications, social platforms, etc.
Tip: Choose a customer engagement platform that allows you to track your audience's journey and offer timely, relevant communications across the channels your consumers choose.
CEPs record every interaction a customer has with your business, including storing transcript records of chats, web and SMS messages, surveys, online forms, information about the web pages they visit, the products they buy. By tracking this data, you can deliver hyper-personalized content that links directly to consumer concerns or interact with them with the information that is most relevant to them. Customer engagement platforms are all about harnessing data to give consumers more of what they desire.
Customer engagement tools have comprehensive message-testing capabilities that enable you to experiment with various channels of communication with your consumers. You can essentially A/B test your messaging throughout the system like you would with email marketing, or A/B test your landing pages. By experimenting with different message versions, you can acquire invaluable insights into how, where, and when various types of groups of users interact.
A customer engagement platform must integrate seamlessly with your existing technology stack to be effective. This helps automate the movement of information into and out of your CEP, which enhances proper data utilization across multiple channels, and you can be confident that no data will be lost. A robust customer engagement platform like Velaro, is built to work with other technologies and will have robust native connectors to improve workflows.
How to choose the right customer engagement tool for your business
There are various customer engagement solutions available. Choosing the best one depends on the features required and your specific business objectives. Before making a decision, ask yourself the following questions:
What are your expectations for the platform?
You may wish it to link with your CRM, or you choose self-service support. Some businesses want their customer interaction platforms to handle customer loyalty programs. You can also leverage the tool to guide your marketing strategies and collect user engagement feedback. Your company's priorities define the ultimate decision. Identify your use case and browse through different options to find the tool that meets your needs.
How much personalization do you need?
76% of consumers are likely to purchase from businesses that offer a tailored digital experience. Personalization is a crucial driver of company success, but you must determine the extent of personalization required based on your consumer segments. Features such as advanced segmentation allow you to reach consumers based on demographics such as region, age, gender, preferred product niche, etc. It needs customer behavioral data, which a robust CEP can offer.
What communication channels do you plan to use?
Choose a platform that enables you to implement an omnichannel and unified strategy across your critical customer interaction and engagement channels. Live chat, chatbots, social media platforms, SMS and messaging applications, and email marketing are some channels to consider.
Do you need automation?
Customer engagement systems provide varying degrees of automation. Determine whether you require automation features and how many workflows can be automated without impacting customer engagement.
Does it offer a 360o customer view?
Your CEP of choice should unify all of your consumer data. With this knowledge, you should be capable of extracting information that will help you anticipate your consumers' demands and provide a more personalized approach. This data can help your marketing team generate a 360o view of your consumers and develop a holistic understanding of their needs.
Maximize your ROI with a customer engagement platform
As interactive and integrated marketing campaigns continue to gain prominence, the need for advanced technology is also growing. The ability to collect data, now and in the future, coupled with more intelligent analytics and a more personalized approach to customer engagement, is becoming increasingly important in business. As a result, companies are looking to customer engagement software both as a means of interacting with customers across all available channels and as an obligation to ensure that their interactions are meaningful.
Not every CEP is created equal, and you must choose one to help you achieve your business goals. Once you've evaluated each feature and picked the CEP that seems a good fit for your company, don't be afraid to invest in training for your team. Good design can only take you so far; integrating this new tool into your business procedures will take some effort.