Most businesses dream about automating customer engagement to create brand ambassadors.
We’ve all been there…that moment when you realize you’ve been focusing so much on getting new customers that you never stopped to think about how your existing customers are doing.
Are they satisfied with your product? Do they have any suggestions to improve your offering? Did they renew their subscription? If so, why? If not, why?
These and so many other critical data-points are buried in the minds of thousands of customers who at one point were at the center of your attention.
Reaching out to them for feedback has since been a lingering item at the bottom of your to-do list, always triumphed by the upcoming marketing strategy, the next ad-campaign, and so on.
What if there was a way to reach out to thousands of customers at scale, and ask them personalized feedback on what they think. Sounds like a stretch? Bear with me.
Let’s take it a step further. What if customers came to you and proactively told you what they think and how you can improve your offering. Still with me?
Let’s go one step further. What if they went to other customers and told them how great your product/service is, and essentially start behaving like your marketing team.
Now we’re talking!
That, my friend, is when you’ve turned your marketing machine on its head. But turning customers into brand ambassadors is no walk in the park.
Here are 6 steps to get to that dream state of business excellence:
This is easier said than done. Remember those traditional feedback forms/surveys with standardized responses? Yeah, those ones.
Nope, they don’t work. But there’s a silver lining – customers today are eager to share their thoughts and opinions on social media. In fact, they like it so much that there’s a whole industry of social listening platforms trying to keep a pulse on customer sentiments.
But those tools fall well short of understanding the true intent and feelings behind each Tweet or Facebook comment. That’s where AI can help. Thankfully there are now tools available in the market that can do just that. More on that at the end of this post.
It’s not enough to just be a passive listener to the flourishing ocean of ideas that is today’s internet. Brands must also engage with customers beyond the traditional channels.
Again, doing this at scale is hard. And even more so if you want to have one-on-one conversations with customers in a personalized manner.
Here again, AI can help understand each individual customer comment and enable companies to provide a truly personalized and unique response to each customer.
3. Take risks
Someone much wiser than yours truly once said that as a brand, not willing to take a risk is the riskiest thing a brand can do.
This is especially true in today’s polarizing world.
It’s more important than ever to today’s customers that brands not only take a stand but also actively convey where those values lie - openly and unabashedly.
This provides a direct line of communication to customers who strongly identify with those values.
Unlike some of the earlier points, AI cannot help with this. Thankfully!
4. Get feedback and track trends
This is what differentiates a successful customer engagement strategy from an unsuccessful one.
With millions of interactions happing on social media between customers and businesses every single day, it is almost criminal to let go of the insights and information that can be derived from those conversations.
This is an area where AI is especially helpful – not only in extracting the key pieces of information from each comment but also in aggregating this information into insightful outcomes.
Brands cannot be content to just look at customer insights in a dashboard.
The successful ones go one step further in automating customer engagement and take instant actions not only to delight their customers but also to decide their product strategy.
5. Follow-up regularly
The most important word here is regularly. Just because we can now listen to and respond to customers proactively speaking out on social media doesn’t mean that the ones that are less active can be forgotten.
Often it’s the quality of interactions that a brand has with a customer that is more insightful and helpful than the number of DMs exchanged with the customer.
This is where automating customer engagement helps a lot.
Constantly engaging with customers makes them feel like they’re valued, and not just being utilized for their feedback in a transactional manner - like a 360-degree employee review at the end of the year.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask
Of all the steps above, this one’s the boldest, and most rare.
You’ll be surprised at how supportive and eager-to-help today’s customers are. Once they get a peek at the inner thoughts/feelings/opinions of a company, today’s customers rally around causes and go out of their way to support the brands they identify with - becoming true brand ambassadors for your business.
This is where you’re almost at the finish line in converting them to true brand ambassadors.
Give them that “wow” moment, when they realize you truly care about them. And then ask them – not to help you sell more stuff – but to stand by you when you take a stand.
Once you’ve found that coveted state of transforming a customer into an advocate, the key is to keep rewarding those and any new customers they bring in. It’s like keeping a candle lit in a storm. You have to delicately protect your relationship with each customer – and see her or him do wonders for your brand. Doing this requires intelligence. Doing this at scale requires Artificial Intelligence.