Over the course of the past two articles in this five-part series, we have learned that Long-View Customer Experience is the the “pathway” in which customers move throughout the interaction with brands. In the previous section, we discussed the first two steps in this process, awareness and perception. These set the foundation for consumer/brand interaction by establishing name and product recognition and creative positive brand perceptions. In this section, we will discuss the remaining steps in the Long-View Customer Experience model and blank, engagement and action.
The word “engagement” is used often these days when talking about the goals of digital marketing. When looking at the overall user experience, we can say that engagement is the “place” in the lifecycle that we can most reasonably expect a loyal customer to stay for the longest period of time. We can’t always expect them to take a specific conversion action on a regular basis, but we can provide a means for regular engagement with our brands.
There are many good reasons for this, including the fact that it has been shown that engaged customers spend 30% more than regular customers.
Keep in mind that just like both awareness and perception, not all engagement is positive. It takes knowledge of how to handle negative interactions to provide a good customer experience to all, but by cultivating good relationships with engaged customers, you can actually get support from these users to help combat negative engagement.
According to Mitz Pantic on Social Media Today:
If you generally make your customers happy, they’ll often eagerly leap to defend your honor in public, giving you lots of great testimonials you can use for years to come.
Engagement is the first step towards action
While it takes many forms, positive engagement is the first step to becoming a brand advocate, repeat customer, and loyal supporter. It is now such a critical part of marketing budgets (alongside brand awareness and direct response) that according to a Strongview survey of restaurants in 2013, 93 percent said they would be maintaining or increasing their marketing budgets in order to increase customer engagement.
How do we track it?
The good news about engagement, and about our progression from awareness to action in general, is that it becomes easier to measure as we proceed. Engagement can be measured across many channels from social media to websites to in-store interactions.
The primary challenge becomes tracking engagement behavior from online to offline and back again. While challenges related to this are far from completely addressed, the tracking, tools and analysis are becoming increasingly sophisticated.
This is the ultimate destination along the path of user experience. This is your “sale” or whatever might be the ultimate conversion point in your customer experience lifecycle. You can now see how awareness, positive perception and positive engagement have all led to this point.
The most direct connection between a brand and consumer
This last, and least frequently achieved, of all four steps concerns the closest part of your relationship with your customer. While engagement with a good customer will happen much more frequently than a direct conversion, the action is the part of your relationship where you are most likely to not only generate revenue, but also exchange important information or transactional data with them.
How do we track it?
As we said earlier, when we proceed from Awareness to Action it becomes easier to track. In the case of Action, it is safe to say that the thing that is easiest to track and report on is something related to a direct conversion, whether that is sale of a product or service or something over which you have direct tracking capabilities.
So what happens after the user reaches the “action” step in our process? If we think of the process as a circle proceeding from awareness to perception to engagement to action, the customer will then move straight back to awareness and ultimately continue through either the remainder or some portion of the entire process at least one more time.
You see, before we buy a product or service for the first time, we have a different type of awareness of it than we do after we have experienced it. Des Traynor of Intercom discusses this in terms of a website user experience as the following:
User experience designers are great at making software friendly and usable for new customers. We design clean, clear sign-up forms, smooth on-boarding experiences, and even helpful blank slates once users are inside the app. Once customers have used the software for some time and have integrated it in their workflow, their relationship with the software becomes more complex. UX designers have no stencils for designing “how the customer feels about the software after six months.”
Obviously, this can be applied to a customer experience with a brand across multiple digital and traditional properties as well.
So we proceed back through the process until we either stop at one of the points (perhaps if we don’t like or need the product again) or take action and convert again.
Engagement and Action are the final and most critical steps in the Long-View Customer Experience model. Engagement is the step in which customers directly interact with your brand. Positive engagement often leads active and loyal customers and brand advocates. Lastly, Action is the ultimate point a customer reaches; this may include a sale, a sign-up, or another action you are requesting from your consumers.
In the fourth installment of this series, we will look further into Long-View Customer Experience and discuss the fundamentals of customer expectation. To learn more on the topics covered in this series or the author, Greg Kihlström, please visit Carousel30’s website.
(The first two parts of this series are in Insights on the Capitol Communicator website, www.capitolcommunicator.com.)