Gavin Finn, President and CEO, Kaon Interactive, presents three ways to better engage your customers
As B2B customers’ purchasing choices have expanded, their expectations have increased, and brand loyalty has sharply declined. Connecting with customers is no longer about the product, nor is it sufficient to rely on a sales relationship or the company’s marketing communications and messaging.
To acquire, delight and retain customers, companies have to think and act in a more strategic way. The most effective strategy for building loyalty in your customer base is to develop a relationship that’s based on engagement, and optimizes each customer interaction. Rather than broadcasting messages to the entire customer base, companies should create a culture of dialogue and interaction. Engagement is all about a bidirectional interaction, wherein the customer is not a passive recipient of information, but rather plays an active role by asking questions, driving the direction of the discussion, and deciding when and where to dive into details. When customers are actively involved, their loyalty to your company and products intensifies because they feel an emotional connection – and it is the combination of this emotional connection together with the analytical evaluation of products that drives purchasing decisions.
Here are three ways to engage your customers better:
1. Start engaging before they become customers
As people do their own research prior to engaging with individuals from your company, make it easy for them to find interactive experiences that help them learn even more about your business, products and differentiated value. These experiences differ from traditional web pages, videos, PDF documents and slide presentations in one fundamental way – they involve the user (prospect) in the process of information transfer, rather than ‘telling’. When prospects find interactive experiences online, and offline at face-to-face events, they are more likely to spend increased amounts of time with these experiences than they would by simply reading a document or watching a video. As they spend additional time, they will absorb more of the relevant knowledge they need to understand your solution and how it may apply to their specific needs. The process of interacting allows them to select areas of interest and depth of detail that will help them discover important and useful knowledge needed to solve their problems. This will predispose them to building a more in-depth relationship with your company, because they will already understand the primary factors required for them to move further along their buyer’s journey with you.
2. Deliver engaging experiences that have sensory, emotional and intellectual dimensions
When people are truly engaged, they are stimulated in three ways at the same time. They are doing something (such as touching a screen, manipulating a joystick, etc.) that is sensory, which means there is a tactile and visual activity. They are feeling something, which usually includes having fun, perhaps a little fear, surprise, and sometimes even anger. This emotion builds a visceral connection to the experience. The third dimension is intellectual – they are learning something. This is the transfer of useful information that is new to the user and is what distinguishes a truly engaging customer experience from, say, playing a video game. The combination of these three building blocks of the experience (sensory, emotional, and intellectual) are essential to delivering a long-lasting result that has a meaningful impact on decision-making.
3. Stop presenting
One of the least effective forms of persuasion, and paradoxically the most common sales method, is to talk to the audience, instead of with the audience. As sales people have become almost Pavlovian in their reliance on slide presentations during sales meetings, so too have customers and prospects developed aversions to these kinds of meetings. There are many good reasons for this circumstance, including the fact presentations are often boring when the presenter (sales person) is doing all the talking, and there are innumerable slides with lots of words. Realistically, the customers can usually read that material themselves. So, what should be done? First, turn the meeting into an interactive dialogue that engages the customer and makes them an active participant. Second, when using presentation tools, make them visual interactive experiences with the customer driving, rather than text-based slides. The exact same information can be delivered, but because it is a visual experience (rather than just reading) and the customer is in control, they will remember more and the meeting will be much more likely to achieve its intended result.
Delivering engaging experiences to customers at every touch point is transformative. Customers become more informed (because the engagement was more effective) and they become much more likely to buy (because they have understood your true value though an in-depth engaging experience). Fully engaged customers are emotionally attached and rationally loyal. This results in an increased share of wallet, and significantly higher lifetime customer value.
-Original article posted on B2B Marketing.