The Online Customer Engagement Report 2009 is hot off the presses from E-Consultancy and cScape. This year is their biggest survey with over 1,300 companies and agencies responding in September and October, 2008.
First, some highlights:
- 87% said engagement was important or essential (52%)
- Only 45% have a defined customer engagement strategy
- Top 5 reasons for interest in customer engagement by companies:
- Increasing long-term customer value
- Increasing value delivered to customer
- Deepening, enriching product offering
- Gaining customer insight
- Strengthening emotional investment in brand
- Most important outcome of engagement is willingness to recommend or refer others
- Other desirable outcomes for companies include:
- convert to customer more easily
- buy regularly
- less likely to switch brands
- less focus on price
- 52% say they aren't advanced at mapping customer experience or need to start doing so.
- Top 5 attitudes companies say they need to address in 2009:
- price sensitivity
- focus on quality
- desire for simplicity
- intolerance of poor customer service
- prolonged decision making
These responses are pretty much what I'd expect to see. It's also interesting to note that eNewsletters were seen by 69% of companies as providing a tangible improvement to customer engagement. My guess about this is that response is more easily measured for this tactic.
When only 30% say they've seen improved engagement via micro-sites, and only 25% from blogging, it makes me wonder if they've evaluated the content they're providing and how well it fits their prospect and customer needs. Or perhaps they're not measuring. But I'm sticking with the bet that it's the lack of valuable and relevant content they provide. To justify that opinion, see my post about boring corporate blogs.
It's encouraging to see that companies have increased interest in social media, but I'm hoping they stop and think about what's in it for the customer more than they think about what's in it for themselves. Companies who've listened first and continuously learn from participation in social networks have seen improved engagement levels.
For insight about why it's also important to monitor your social reputation, see this article from 1 to 1 Magazine, Manage Your Reputation Daily - Or Your Customers Will Do It For You.
I'm happy to see that companies are realizing the importance of customer engagement and no longer taking it for granted. I'm hopeful we'll see companies make more progress in 2009. In order to start gaining on that goal, I suggest that focusing on knowing your customers really well is one key not to overlook. Knowing what they need and value, their priorities and how to interact with them effectively in "social" dialogues can go a long way toward building engagement.
Finally, you may also want to review my post about the impact of customer experience on your business. The two concepts are inter-related and you'll not be successful at one without addressing the other.