Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2017 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
In the fitness world, it’s important to tackle the basics before you take on more challenging, complicated exercises. It’s the same in business. Building a strong foundation for your customer engagement strategies will provide you with the tools necessary to take on bigger, more ambitious efforts later on.
What is Customer Engagement?
Customer engagement is every touchpoint your business has with a customer, whether online or off. You can utilize both proactive and reactive customer engagement strategies to engage with your target market. The possibilities here are nearly endless and limited only by your creativity and the resources you have available.
As a franchise owner in the health and fitness space, how you engage with customers can make or break your business. Here are five simple ideas for customer engagement strategies that could help grow your business.
#1 – Keep everything simple
On the customer side, make it easy for them to contact you in a variety of ways. Some people will like to pick up the phone, while others will prefer to send an email. Don’t hide phone numbers or email addresses unless you have a very clear communication strategy pointing them in another direction. Also, make sure your contact info is consistent across all platforms.
Behind the scenes, keeping your business as simple as possible to run will help you save time and put more effort into the things that make you money. If you choose to outsource bookkeeping, for example, you can take that task off your plate and reallocate that time to core duties that will grow your business. These days, there are plenty of affordable bookkeeping services for small businesses, so delegating this piece of the puzzle is quick and easy.
#2 – Let your staff exercise their voice
Empower your staff to truly serve your customers. When front-line staff, whether in-person or virtual, have the ability to address concerns and make good on mistakes, you decrease the chances of problems escalating and resulting in a bad review online.
It’s important to remember that people like to do business with other people, not cold corporations. If you can help your staff engage with each customer and get to know them personally, that connection will do wonders. Not only is that customer more likely to come back, but they are also more likely to tell friends and family about the great experience they had in your store.
#3 – Get results…and rewards!
One of our best customer loyalty tips is to reward loyal customers with perks and offers that make it easier for them to choose you over other competitors. Think about implementing a rewards program that keeps them coming back time and time again.
The power of offering rewards can be seen over the long run when your past customers continue to stick with your products and services. If they consider making a switch to another business, the loss of potential rewards may be all it takes to keep them in place. There is a momentum associated with accumulating rewards over time, and many customers won’t want to miss out once they’ve gotten started.
#4 – Don’t be afraid of a bit of resistance
No matter how small an issue or how wrong you believe your customer to be, respond to every concern as quickly as possible. Whether the comment came in person, over the phone, via email, or through a scathing review—tackle the issue head-on fast. You’ll save a customer and likely gain more in the process.
To avoid having these responses take up too much of your time, consider establishing a schedule to deal with each concern. For instance, you could set aside a couple of hours each morning to start the day by responding to any complaints that have come in over the last 24 hours. This will ensure that no issue waits too long without a reply, and it will keep the rest of your day open to work on other projects.
#5 – Keep up your (social) reps
There is no debate about the power and importance of social media in the modern business landscape. Carefully managing your online communities is no longer optional. Make sure you have staff dedicated to monitoring your social media channels and responding to positive and negative feedback. Responsiveness shows onlookers that you care about your customers and will go the extra mile.
To actually drive engagement on social media, it’s important to be as original and creative as possible. If you are simply looking around at other brands in your space and copying their ideas, you’ll never make much of an impact. Think about what it is that makes your brand unique and target those points with your social campaigns. In an extremely crowded digital landscape, you need something different to stand out from the crowd.