Companies keep telling me customer engagement is broken. I find this a shocking statement. We are connected to the internet 24/7, we’ve got endless tools available to speak to anyone; even my grandma uses Skype to call me on weekends. Engagement should be easier than ever before, how can it be broken?

The answer is simple. Brands are relying on technology to fix a purely emotional issue. AI is the coolest thing that has happened to us in a long time and brands are justifiably excited about it. But the key to customer engagement is trust, not computer programs that behave like humans.

Rich, complex conversations which lead to happier customers and better products – that is true customer engagement. We all agree that AI is part of the future, but it feels like brands are passing  a problem that only humans can solve on to the bots.

People don’t speak to stones. Likewise, customers don’t speak to brands that don’t listen, they simply switch companies. Instead of bringing in the bots, here are eight things you can do to build customer trust and increase engagement.

  1. Give your customers a platform where they can speak to you, as well as to each other. This is the first step in showing you are not afraid and you trust them.
  2. Listen to their feedback and act on it. Create a transparent process so your customers can see how their feedback is being incorporated into your business.
  3. Share with them as much as you can. Open the virtual doors of your company, throw down the red carpet, and create a welcoming, inviting culture.
  4. Leave humans to tackle the emotional stuff. Bots are awesome and can handle millions of queries in a couple of seconds, but that doesn’t mean you can delegate the emotional stuff to them. Companies using AI to personalise customer experience are fooling themselves and their customers.
  5. Stop saying you are customer-centric (unless it is true). Putting the customer at the heart of your business involves a massive effort and needs to involve all your employees so everyone is on board. Customer-centricity is a lifestyle, not just a trendy concept.
  6. Establish a shared vision with your customers. Whether it’s building better mobile phones or saving the planet, you need your customers’ support to achieve your goal. And many want to be involved; the twenty-first century consumer isn’t satisfied with simply buying things, they want to understand your vision and be able to make a difference.
  7. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. It doesn’t matter how well you’ve done up until this point, your customers will call you out if you don’t deliver on your promises. This is the quickest way to lose their trust.
  8. Don’t be afraid of criticism. Accepting criticism is one of the most powerful tools to improve your brand. Not long ago brands used to delete (aka moderate) negative customer comments from their channels. Instead, embrace criticism, engage with it, and learn from it.

Trust is really powerful because it helps you create an environment where customers want to help you improve. If you remove trust from the equation what you often get is negative engagement or, in other words, a lot of ranting customers.


Gabriel Fraga, Chief of Communities @ Standing on Giants

ALSO READ…

Why you shouldn’t answer customer service questions in your community

I’m going to give you a challenge – start trusting your customers, start believing that they can help with customer service.  Stop trying to control your community members  – step back, educate them, and encourage them. Stop customer service agents answering every...

Community Job Descriptions (Intro) – VP of Community

Dear fellow Community Management Professionals, I’ve noticed some of us asking for job descriptions of our roles out there in the ether, like recently on the CMX Facebook group, including the job description VP of Community, sometimes also called Chief Community...

Customer Experience(s) vs Customer Service

Having recently attended the CEM in Telecoms Global Summit here in London, one thing struck me above all else. Most speakers explored one meaning of the word ‘experience’, namely: technology. The focus was giving the customer more functionality, allowing the customer...

8 Common Community Management Mistakes To Avoid

Since I know myself as a Community Manager, and from research on past decades of the profession, I see many discussions about our roles and how easy it is to mix our professional and personal lives into one big thing. Some companies and colleagues even brag that they...

Is your community’s purpose clear?

This is an incredibly important question - whether you’re starting out on the journey with a new community or even when you’ve already been managing one for a number of years. One would assume that most companies that already have a customer community...

The key to customer engagement: more trust and fewer bots

Companies keep telling me customer engagement is broken. I find this a shocking statement. We are connected to the internet 24/7, we’ve got endless tools available to speak to anyone; even my grandma uses Skype to call me on weekends. Engagement should be easier than...

Key questions to consider before launching a customer community

In a previous blog post, I talked about the need for a real purpose for your community, with a set of goals attached to it. This ensures you understand what it is you want to achieve with your community. It enables you to give your members a clear...

Making the Standing on Giants Negroni

The Summer maybe be over, but there is no reason not to wack up the heating, slip on some light clothes, put a mellow playlist on Spotify and pretend that it's not grey or raining outside.  What better drink to capture the August vibe than Standing on Giant's twist on...

CEM 2016 – Customer Experience Management Takeaways

Last month I was lucky enough to attend the important event about Customer Experience Management in Argentina, where experienced speakers participated and offered a very productive and interesting day. There has never been a bigger challenge in the marketing sector...

Voice of the Customer: How to do more with less

I absolutely love to hear businesses talk about their “Voice of the Customer” programs. Whether it’s from incumbents like British Gas or challengers like Atom Bank, it’s heartwarming to hear brands giving their customer an active voice in the company. But I know, like...

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Standing on Giants

Standing on Giants

Team

The Standing on Giants team is an eccentric group of passionate brand owned community experts comprising community managers, techheads, trainers, and various other crazy people