Customer engagement – building a special relationship with your customers
You’ve got a great SAP business and you’re proud of what you deliver. Now you need to communicate your awesomeness to the world, and how you can help them achieve their goals and solve their problems – this is where marketing comes in!
If you are an SAP partner who is looking to learn more about marketing or review the fundamentals, then this post is for you!
The sales and marketing journey doesn’t end once your buyer signs the contract. There are good reasons to build and nurture a relationship with your customers as well. Customers who are engaged are more likely to:
- endorse your offering and recommend it to others
- select you for other services and solutions that you offer
- renew their engagement with you (in the case of contractual agreements)
Studies show that upselling and retention of customers makes a notable contribution to long-term business revenue and profit.
Source: Building a customer for life, Amanda Hawkins, Partner Path, https://www.partner-path.com/blog/2016/03/building-a-customer-for-life/, Accessed September 29, 2017.
Source: CLTV Isn’t The Whole Story. Don’t Shortchange Second-Order Revenue, Jason Lemkin, SaaStr, https://www.saastr.com/its-not-just-cltv-its-your- trgcltv-that-matters-total-all-in-revenue-generated-by-your-customer/, Accessed September 29, 2017.
So what is customer engagement and how can it be developed?
Essentially, customer engagement is a positive emotional connection between you and your customers. It a result of a positive user experience encountered by your customers and continued nurturing provided by you.
Provide a positive user experience
A customer’s experience with your product and their dealings with you need to be positive. For example:
- They should be able to get the help they need in a timely manner
- They should have a good experience learning how to use your solution
- They should have courteous, rapid, and effective support when troubleshooting issues
This isn’t to say that Sales and Marketing needs to take over technical support or training activities, but rather these teams can work together to ensure that customers are getting the best experience with your offering, which can help influence the decision to renew and/or expand their portfolio.
Provide continued nurturing
In a similar way to how you provide useful and thoughtful content to potential buyers, you should also engage with your customers, to let them know that you value them and that you remain committed to their success. You might consider providing them with:
- valuable content
- special perks reserved only for customers
The progression of the customer experience
Similar to how an buyer goes through a process when selecting an offering, the customer also goes through an evolution when experiencing the offering, which we call the customer journey. Similar to the buyer’s journey, the way marketers communicate with customers is very different in each stage.
When your customer is ready to start using their acquisition, there are a lot of tentative steps, with starts and stops, as she or he learns about your offering. There is a lot of adjustment to be made as well as downtime, as the customer adjusts and integrates the offering into her or his workflow.
At this stage, your customer is likely most reliant on documentation, training content, and technical support. Remember, the faster and more effectively they get started, the better impression it will have on your product.
You have a great opportunity to make a good impression by getting your customers off to a good start.
- Make sure that your customers have easy access to training
- Ensure that support that has an adequate response time and agent expertise
- If possible, adjust your training and support strategies to respond to your customers’ preferences and strengths
- Consider having the following content available: Welcome kits, user guides, reference database, FAQs, troubleshooting database, training videos, and recorded webinars
- Ensure all content is organized logically, with quick and easy access (i.e. with minimal clicks)
Your customers have completed their training and are now leveraging your offering to get their work done and to meet their initial needs.
At this stage, your customer is less likely to actively look for information, but is more likely to welcome opportunities to continue optimizing her or his working experience.
This is a great opportunity for you to stay in touch with your customers, to understand how they are using the offering, to learn about their likes and dislikes.
You can also continue to build your brand by offering advice on using the product better or improving their work experience overall.
Get them involved in product development for future versions. See if they can improve how they use the offering currently. You can provide content such as:
- Q&A / feedback sessions
- Exclusive promotions and offers
- Tips and tricks
- Exclusive customer enablement content
Keep in mind that your purpose is similar to that of the Evaluate stage of the buyer’s cycle. This is a great time to truly nurture your relationship and cement your reputation as a thought leader who is truly committed to the success of your customers.
At this stage, your customer is thinking about the value of the offering. She or he is asking:
- Has it provided the desired value?
- Should we continue with the current offering?
- Should we expand our portfolio with additional services?
As a marketer, your purpose is similar to that of the Buy stage of the buyer’s cycle. You want to engage in activities that will convince your current customer to renew their engagement with you, and/or expand their portfolio. Accordingly provide product-specific content that focuses on the benefits of maintaining and enhancing your current relationship:
- Upsell/cross sell messaging/positioning
- Campaigns, content to feed customer/partner collaboration channels
- Blogs, customer success stories
- Assets highlighting solution benefits, upsell/cross sell stories, industry and solution customer stories
There are great opportunities for Marketing to nurture relationships with customers – by making an active contribution to customer engagement and satisfaction, and by continuing to help them meet their business goals, you will remain relevant, build goodwill, earn loyalty and recommendations, and be top-of-mind for portfolio enhancements.
You can inspire your customers do this by driving customer engagement and satisfaction. When you provide them a superior learning and support experience, and offer content that helps them learn, leverage and realize the value in your offering, the engagement they build to you will help drive future revenue and growth.
This is the next post of my blog series Communicate Your Awesomeness. Feel free to directly if you’d like to have more discussions related to marketing!
Want even more? You can now sign up for a number of free and paid marketing services delivered by SAP and its trusted providers. Check out the SAP Partner Benefits Catalog or contact your PSA for more information!