Business Bites: Maximising customer engagement

Nick Walsh FBDO
ABDO sector skills development officer

In this article, we consider how customer engagement can help to build your practice brand…

What is customer engagement?

Customer engagement is the emotional link between a customer and a brand. The act of inspiring customers to interact with your brand will lead to better word-of-mouth recommendation, more sales and more loyalty. By engaging with your customers in a meaningful way, you can harness their voices as powerful marketing tools.

Social media is particularly useful as it provides companies with the opportunity to respond and interact directly with their customers regarding their experience visiting your practice. This is important as the comments people post online are out of the practice’s control, so being an active part of conversations about their products and services is the only way a practice can influence them positively. Customers will be delighted most by personalised experiences.

To help customers weigh and evaluate choices, most brands describe their differentiating features and benefits. Some go a step further, offering buying guides containing side-by-side brand or product comparisons. Sales history can also address consumers’ ‘weighing woes’ by allowing them to sidestep the process altogether. Consumers are likely to feel confident about recommendations that are based on their own purchasing data or other past behaviour, because those things are typically accurate gauges of preference.

It’s about brand recognition

Arguably, brand recognition is now more important than ever. With buyers typically starting a purchase online by searching for products, you want them to include your brand in the search content, e.g. a general search of ‘buy new glasses’ may not get them to your website or social media accounts, the desired search would be ‘new styles at ‘Your Brand’ Opticians’.

You need faster reaction times when you are creating online content, e.g. reacting to new trends, new product launches. It has always been risky for companies to disappoint customers. Today, the scale and speed of social media can make falling short instantly painful.

Developing a positive online reputation is becoming increasingly necessary for optical practices of all sizes. This is due to the growing popularity of digital platforms such as social media and third-party review websites. Building a positive online reputation requires a multi-pronged approach. It can be achieved with some expertise and professionalism, but it must also be constantly monitored in order to maintain that positive association. Just one example of negativity can damage the perception of a company or brand, so it is crucial to remain on top of the monitoring process.

Any hints on content?

Trusted advice plays a big part in buying choices today. It is not just about trusting the brand but about trusting the information gathered. Real people play a growing role in marketing – be that members of your own team in photos or videos when talking about products and offers, or reviews from your actual customers.

Your team can spend a huge amount of time and effort telling patients how great your optical practice is. However, wouldn’t it sound much better coming directly from your patients instead? Patient advocates are incredibly powerful tools for boosting your brand’s image and reputation. This is because independent, verified reviews and testimonials have credibility. There is a huge benefit to online reviews. People trust customer reviews.

It is also about the power of empathy. Make sure that your messages are customer centric and not product centric. Illustrate understanding for how your offer/product will be right for the customer; be aware of and sensitive to the needs of your customer. This is probably more important than ever in changing times as we have at present.

How to measure customer engagement

We are all familiar with the satisfaction survey that pops up in the email inbox not long after a purchase or the text message asking us to respond scoring our satisfaction. These are powerful tools when used correctly. We can also use other methods of gaining patient feedback.

Net Promoter Scores (NPS) is a loyalty tool that was introduced in 2003. It is used to monitor and gauge the loyalty of a business relationship. The key benefit of NPS is that it gives insights into elements of a relationship such as customer satisfaction, effectiveness of communications and how well customer service is judged.
• NPS can be an effective method of seeking feedback with minimal input from customers. Used correctly, it can condense down a number of issues effectively into an easy to answer questionnaire
• Scores can indicate a probable path of business growth but can equally illustrate areas of weakness that need work
• The process behind NPS requires that customers are continually monitored to note any deviations of their sentiment
• Those customers who are considered to be ‘promotors’, once identified, should be considered – with consent – a marketing asset

The ABDO Business Support Hub contains many useful resources and articles.

You may also find this article useful: ‘Making the most of Eyecare FAQ‘.