Customer engagement is the direct route to every important business objective. It’s the pathway to everything good that a business could want:
Customer ambassadorship for your brand
When you engage your customers, you draw them closer to your brand, your business, your organization. And that’s when the magic starts to happen.
Engaging travelers on the holidays
Let me give you a very simple example, filled with the holiday spirit.
Today, heading into Christmas, many customers are traveling far from home, whether from choice or necessity. Providing Christmas decorations to brighten the way for such travelers is a nice touch. But what would be even nicer, and a better way to draw customers close to your brand? Engaging those guests in the celebration–giving them a chance to take part themselves.
Your Customer Is The Star: An eBook From Forbes How to make Millennials, Boomers and everyone in between fall in love with your business. By Micah Solomon. This is what one hotel, the Penha Longa resort, does every holiday season. Employees provide guests with miniature (shrub-sized) Christmas trees in their rooms, leaving them bare but accompanying them with crafty little kits full of everything a guest needs to creatively decorate their own tree.
This is a magical, almost zero-tech example of how to build engagement. It’s engagement built with pipe cleaners, little pieces of paper, scissors, googley eyes and a glue stick to attach them.
How Google Cardboard helps Volvo and New York Times engage their customers
Moving to higher-tech examples: Customer engagement is also what partnering with Google and its “Cardboard” virtual reality technology is doing for brands like Volvo and The New York Times. In the case of the Volvo promotion, it’s a way to engage customers (and potential customers) by giving them not only a detailed preview of a not-yet-production-ready car, Volvo’s redesigned XC90 SUV, but an actual (o.k., make that virtual) chance to take the car on a drive through different environments, at different speeds, and at different times of day.
In the case of Google Cardboard’s partnership with The New York Times, the two companies recently collaborated to distribute 1.2 million of these viewers to NYT subscribers, allowing readers to engage with some very serious stories (for example, this one on displaced people)—picking their own camera angles and immersing themselves in the visual and auditory aspects the story.
Engaging customers the way a movie engages its audiences
Customer engagement, by the way, doesn’t literally have to involve hands-on activities undertaken by your customers, such as decorating a tree or choosing camera angles with a VR viewer. Think of traditional movies: This powerful art form engages its audiences deeply, even though those audience members–its customers–don’t themselves act the scenes out (except if the movie in question is Rocky Horror). Moviemakers pull this off through with scripting, acting, lighting, soaring music and the other details that create scene after engaging scene. So consider this approach as well to engaging your customers: plotting out the time customers will spend with your company in cinematic terms and bringing that impression, engagingly, to life.
Whatever your approach and the tools you use – high tech, low tech, or no tech – customer engagement can take you far. Farther than just about anything else in today’s competitive business environment.