What Does ‘Customer Engagement’ Mean?
The term ‘customer engagement’ doesn’t have an accepted, universal definition. However, that hasn’t stopped business experts from trying to come up with one. However, as British author Adrian Swinscoe notes, all attempts at definitions centre on building long-lasting and loyal relationships with customers.
‘Customer engagement’ is about a connection that’s durable and contextual, not transactional. It’s about doing things that matter to your customers, not purely so they spend more money with you, but so they come to trust you and want to continue to work with you. And hey, if that leads to spending more money? Your business is going to be happy with that, right?
The Evolution of Customer Engagement
Although the term ‘customer engagement’ is fairly recent (appearing within the last decade or so), the concept behind it isn’t new. Since the first vendor in a marketplace tried to sell his wares, businesses have been trying to engage with customers, but as we’ll highlight, some methods have been more successful than others.
Until the Industrial Revolution, companies had no choice but to build personal relationships with customers; the technology simply wasn’t there to create these connections otherwise. That changed when printing technologies, then broadcast media came along—businesses could send out mass messages that were impersonal but got their name out. Customers eventually became - and remained - numbers to many businesses, until the Internet Age. With the rise of technology platforms such as social media, customer expectations changed: they wanted to know that their business mattered to companies they chose to spend money with.
‘The Internet Age changed customer engagement—customers now want to know that they matter to companies.’
And here's where AI comes in. This incredibly useful technology enables you to build deeper relationships with customers - at scale.
How Does AI Transform Customer Engagement?
- A deeper understanding of the customer
- AI personalisation at scale
- Predictive analytics
- A personalised customer experience
- Predictive engagement
- Self-service capabilities
- A consistently positive customer experience
A Deeper Understanding of the Customer
AI can give you a deeper understanding of your customers, so that you can build long-term relationships with them.
One of the benefits of AI is the 360° view of your customers it can provide you with. You can see what actions they’ve taken on your site in the past, what they’ve purchased with you, and how they’ve interacted with you (and are interacting with you in real time). With that knowledge, you can create better messages and offers that will appeal to them.
AI Personalisation at Scale
You can be forgiven for thinking personalisation means manual, labourious activity, but AI personalisation automates the personalisation process so you can create tailored content for many people at once. It works by learning customers’ preferences, then applying what it’s learned to each customer.
Here’s an example: You buy a new pair of sandals at your favourite shop. The next day, AI personalisation sends you a coupon for a bag that would complement the sandals perfectly. AI understands what you’ve bought, and what you might be interested in buying in the future.
This isn't entirely new - we've all received emails from companies we've just bought from - but often, the content relates to the item you've already purchased ... and why would you want to buy another one so soon? AI takes this existing practice and makes it smarter.
Knowing what your customer wants next is incredibly valuable. That’s where predictive analytics come in— based on what your customer has already done, this tool can forecast what that person will do next. That boosts customer engagement because it gives customers more of what they want without having to ask for it.
For example, Connor is the CMO at a firm looking to purchase a new CRM. He’s just starting to research options. Given as he’s read a few blog posts from a particular CRM vendor, the next step would be to direct him towards a white paper that would show how this CRM solves his pain points.
A Personalised Customer Experience
A personalised customer experience is a form of AI personalisation. Your customer experience is what happens when a customer interacts with you: what happens when they visit your site or your app? Are you asking them for the same information, even though they’ve already given it to you, or are you able to discern that they’ve already visited your site or app?
It might seem like a small thing, but a personalised customer experience makes your customers feel valued and recognised. AI personalisation can tell when a returning visitor comes back to a site, so it won’t display pop-up windows for content they’ve already seen, such as newsletter signup requests.
Predictive engagement is a form of AI personalisation. It utilises machine learning to understand who a customer is, where that person is in the customer journey, and what the next best steps would be to bring that person to the following stage.
Let’s say you’re looking to buy a new car. You’ve visited one manufacturer’s website a couple of times, browsing available models. One particular model catches your eye. The next best step would be for the website to recommend that you schedule a test drive at your nearest dealership.
Self-service capabilities, despite their name, aren’t antithetical to customer engagement. In fact, they boost engagement because they enable customers to get the help they need without waiting to speak to a human being.
When customers are shopping, they want to complete a task as quickly and efficiently as possible. That task might be research, or it could be making a purchase. The sooner they can complete that task, the happier they’ll be. Once upon a time, the goal was for a customer to spend as much time on your site as possible, but the tables have well and truly turned now. If your site is built to let the customer find what they want, complete their transaction and get off fast, you're onto a winning formula.
A Consistently Positive Customer Experience
AI transforms customer engagement by offering a consistently positive customer experience. AI is always on. It never gets sick or has a bad day. It takes no coffee breaks and has no 'favourites'.
As a result, customers always get the same great customer experience. It makes them want to engage with your company more.
Enlighten Designs: Helping You Leverage AI to Transform Customer Engagement
Since 1998, Enlighten Designs has delivered amazing digital experiences and we're proud to say we're partners with Sitecore and Microsoft - leaders in AI personalisation. If you'd like to know more about leveraging AI to transform customer engagement, check out our free white paper to get you started on your journey.