Getting the attention of consumers and, more importantly, keeping them engaged is challenging. Unfortunately, consumers have grown accustomed to not being engaged because poor experiences when interacting with brands are typically the norm, whether it’s inconsistent information across channels, the wrong offer at the wrong time, or lack of product availability.
While this represents a challenge for most brands, it also represents an opportunity—an opportunity to exceed consumer expectations, and leverage customer engagement as a differentiator for your brand.
I’ve worked in the retail industry for almost a decade, and the one thing I’ve learned that stands out above all else is that human connections matter. They matter in connecting the consumer to the brand. While digital has transformed the consumer experience, it has not rendered the live interaction moot. Far from it. Live interactions remain at the heart of human connections and at the heart of the brand. This is why stores—despite being declared dead many times over the last few years—are still consumers’ top shopping choice. And it’s why I decided to join TimeTrade, which is revolutionizing customer engagement and changing the way brands connect with consumers.
Customer engagement that puts live interaction at its core empowers the brand to differentiate and deliver:
- Authenticity. Customers want to know you are real. They want to truly understand what the brand stands for and hold you accountable for it in the products and services you deliver. The brands that do the best job of making their mission well-understood and that connect with the stories of consumers’ lives are the ones that will stand out—and win. Representatives of the brand—store associates, customer care representatives, sales representatives, or, in other words, real, authentic people, are your brand ambassadors and primary vehicle for delivering this story. People’s Bank of Washington, which manages more than two dozen branches, allows consumers to use any channel to book meetings with representatives who are trained to handle the specific service or transaction the customer wants to conduct. Customers can schedule online or in-person branch meetings to get detailed answers to their questions and knowledgeable advice. This lets the bank put its mission of serving the financial needs of its customers and acting with corporate responsibility into practice with true authenticity.
- Growth. “I don’t need customers to convert more quickly or shop my brand again,” said no brand, ever. Live interactions speed up the time to conversion, increase the likelihood that customer will shop your brand again, reduce the number of delayed (or worse, lost) customer conversions, and, as a result, drive revenue growth. C Spire, the largest privately held wireless communications company in the United States, uses online appointment scheduling so customers can set up face-to-face meetings with store representatives. Cutting down wait times and streamlining live interactions with associates is a sure way to increase customer conversions and the likelihood people would return to shop again.
- Long-lasting relationships. As mentioned earlier, most brands struggle to provide consumers with the personalized experience they expect and want. The brands that can connect the dots to deliver a consistent experience across devices, channels and geographies and, more importantly, deliver a delightful, innovative and engaging experience will build strong, long-lasting relationships. Nordstrom’s Personal Stylist program allows customers to book appointments—with wedding, beauty and personal stylists—directly from the store’s website. Appointments are conducted with the customer’s stylist of choice at their local store. Stylists appointments lead to an innovative, more personal experience and create relationships between customers and stylists that can last a long time.
Make customer engagement centered on live, human connections a strategic priority. Differentiate your brand by delivering authenticity, growth and long-lasting relationships.