2020 has been a unique year. The list of firsts and new things that businesses have had to learn this year is long, but the good news is that 2020 has taught us a lot about the nature of how customers interact with businesses.
Now, just so we are all on the same page, let’s start with a basic definition.
Customer Engagement according to ClaraBridge is “the emotional connection between a customer and a brand.”
Before we jump into three observations from this year, think about two brands that you love. Brands that you would swear by and recommend to your family. I’ll give you my list:
I’m going to use these two brands as examples of what to do for the rest of 2020 to keep your customers loving your brand and coming back for more.
America Runs on Dunkin’ …(Even During a Pandemic). Here’s Why:
Customer Engagement is not just what you post online and how you interact with customers. Although this is part of it, many times actions speak louder than words.
This year when the Stay at Home orders and restrictions regarding the coronavirus Pandemic began in the United States, Dunkin’ offered a special perk to its loyalty members: free donuts at the end of every week with the purchase of a beverage. It was described by them as a “sweet treat to end the week”.
For me, I continue to go to Dunkin’ because its loyalty program pays off and the fact that they stayed true to their rewards program and even extended it by offering a free donut at the end of every week was just an added bonus.
Do I think that Dunkin’s product is the best coffee or donuts out there?
No, but the fact that I can get free donuts or coffee after every 5 drinks is a huge perk for me to continue doing business with them. I bring this up because the same strategy can work for many other businesses.
The pandemic has been hard on many customers’ spending budgets. I appreciated that Dunkin’ acknowledged that and gave a special promo for customers who had been loyal prior to the pandemic. Your business can do the same.
Acknowledge the elephant in the room. Money is tight. Many are living paycheck to paycheck. Part of building relationships with your customers is showing that you are human and in touch with what is happening in the world.
Offer a free item or coupon to customers to acknowledge the hard times that 2020 has brought, expose them to your stellar product, and establish trust.
Wendy’s “Better Than You’d Expect from a Fast Food Place” Mentality
My husband has always loved Wendy’s for their quality food and fast service. I had never truly appreciated their brand until this year, I started following Wendy’s Twitter account.
During the month of May, Wendy’s got creative and decided to do a virtual scavenger hunt for gift cards at the beginning of May when many states were still teetering between re-opening and staying closed. On May 4th, they announced the start of a weeklong scavenger hunt in which customers who participated could DM them the code they found to score free food.
This creativity for how to connect with customers online when they couldn’t necessarily see them in person really helped them establish trust with their fan base. Hundreds of gift cards were given away and many people tweeted about how fun it was to search the web for a prize.
Wendy’s is another example of something that could work for other businesses that have access to social media.
Because 2020 has amplified the need for having an online presence, think of creative ways to replicate contests or giveaways that you normally would run in-store.
Can you do a virtual scavenger hunt to win free prizes? Can you tweet out a riddle and reward the first customer that gets it right? Think outside the box and reward your customers for participating. They will remember, appreciate that you are trying to connect with them, and stay loyal to your brand.
Take A Look At Your Own Business
Now, you've seen a couple of examples for ways to engage with customers in 2020.
Ask yourself the following questions.
- How do I interact with my customers?
- Where are my customers online primarily?
- Have I done anything differently since the start of 2020? How has my business model been impacted?
- What is one step I can take today to engage with my customers where they are?
Customers will love to participate in any interaction that makes sense to them. If you do not know the answer to these questions, you are always free to send out a survey or email to ask your customers what they would prefer.
Investing in your customers and always evolving will ensure that you are building trust. A trust-filled relationship with a customer means a happy customer who will stay loyal to your brand even in a pandemic.