By Dave Hotchner, Global VP, Solutions Consulting and Professional Services at Smart Communications

There are numerous factors that can contribute to the success or failure of an organization but increasing customer retention has taken the leap to become a top business priority. According to a NewVoiceMedia study, an estimated $62 billion is lost by U.S. businesses each year following bad customer experiences. One of the most effective ways to grow your business is by cultivating existing customer relationships. This year, Gartner predicts that 50% of brands will direct investments toward technologies that improve customer engagement.

A digital-savvy generation is blazing the trail for a fresh set of customer expectations. As technologies continue to evolve, organizations are now focused on changing the way we interact, engage with and support customers. Achieving high-standard customer service will win over your consumers and help solidify their lifelong loyalty.

So, what’s the secret to unlocking customer retention? Here are 4 key areas you can focus on to improve customer engagement.

Multichannel Connectivity

A vast majority of the population owns a smartphone, tablet or smartwatch; they want to engage in a conversation with your brand across multiple devices. For example, a customer may tweet an inquiry on Twitter, receive a follow up via email and obtain updates through text messages. Interestingly, a Smart Communications’ recent webinar revealed that only 5% of companies can start a conversation on one channel and seamlessly continue with another. Today’s customers want to be contacted through their preferred channels, so it is essential to have all communication options available. If you want your business to grow and become more stable, embracing a multichannel communication strategy is a must.

Social Media Management

Social media channels like Facebook and Twitter are no longer just marketing and sales tools. Increasingly, they are also valid and important channels through which consumers solicit and receive customer service. Over a third of consumers state they prefer social media to traditional channels like phone and email. When it comes to connecting with consumers, social media has matured as a preferred communication channel that consumers have seamlessly blended into their lives, and they expect brands to follow suit. Studies reveal that 46% of consumers use social media to “call out” brands. Your social accounts not only create brand awareness and corporate identity, they also provide an opportunity to improve your customer engagement by connecting with consumers on their terms.

Faster is Better

Until recently, enterprises have been able to thrive by focusing on the quality of customer service. But with expectations rapidly changing, the speed of customer service is becoming critical for the speed of enterprise IT. According to Forrester, 73% of consumers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service. People that receive a quick response are more likely to recommend the brand to others. Companies that respond faster than their competition will have a greater chance of retaining loyal customers.

Stay in the Spotlight

Consumers are not only concerned about what you do and how you do it, they also pay attention to brand reputation, customer reviews and the character of leadership. People prefer products and companies that reflect their values. Target your audience with newsletters containing personalized customer testimonials, corporate actions and awards. This will make your business and brand appear genuine and approachable.

In Conclusion

Today’s consumers are unforgiving when it comes to poor customer service and bad experiences. Identifying the right tools and strategy will result in long-lasting relationships with your customers. Ongoing satisfaction leads to loyalty. Once customers have placed their trust in a brand and are confident the company will continue to meet their needs, they will continue to do business with them.

To learn more about driving successful customer engagements, visit us at www.smartcommunications.com.