There is a lot of talk these days about creating engagement with customers. Who are they? If you have a blog, they are your readers. If you are a company, they buy your product. If you are a movie producer, they are the viewers .
A few years back(not very far from now), it was just possible to launch a product, advertise massively and attract customers. Companies usually decided the product lines and then based on extensive market surveys tweaked and changed the products to suit the market demand. Customers purchased the products. If they did not like it, they could send mail to customer care department of the company. Normally it stayed there.
Things have changed drastically in last ten years or so. With the internet, the customer has more choices than ever. Not only can we compare features between two similar products but also check out the places (offline /online) where we can get the best deal . The process of search, comparison and purchase has been democratized.
Imagine, ten years back, if a person were to buy an electronic item, she would probably visit one or two malls. She would then take a decision after comparing the price and features manually. She would not probably go searching for hundreds of shop . With internet , it is all automatized, that means she can search not only for the right price but also right deal ( which may includes a few freebies) as well.
This democratization means that there is a threat to the way in which business is done. No longer you can put up a product listing that will be sold by the next day. A few trends that are leading the way:
- Democratization of the sales process as explained above.
- More demanding customer in terms of product quality and better customer service.
- Products that offer something new and exciting.
- Near death of the mass market; it is more fragmented than ever before.
This means there has to be a paradigm shift in the way the business conducts itself.
The trends above can be seen as opportunities too. Fragmentation of mass market means that you may spend less on advertising to the masses and more on engaging a small group of people are interested in your products. If engaged properly, these small groups may provide you with best return on your advertising money spent.
Unfortunately, companies feel that they can engage with people by just launching a Facebook page or having a twitter account. They do that and start talking about themselves. This is not really engagement. It is a continuation of what they were formerly doing, now on a different medium.
Engagement involves having a frank discussion on public platform about your products and your company. Maybe there are a few annoying people writing unpleasant comments. They are though talking about you. That is the biggest benefit of having a discussion. In addition to that you will receive:
- Positive feedback, which is your testimonial.
- Complaints, which you can use to tweak your processes for better.
- Suggestions, for your products in future.
Case in point
I have developed a plugin for wordpress, where I often give versions that I develop to a few friends for suggestions. To monitor results, I keep all emails where people have sent me suggestions. By acknowledging their suggestions with a reply, I am building a loyal audience that appreciates my work and I appreciate their feedback.
Engagement thus is not very difficult to work out. It is just about listening to customers and creating conversations with them. While Platforms like Facebook and twitter are convenient tools to reach out, it is more important to develop the right policies and process to build a better engagement with your audience.