Understanding Customer Engagement Channels - Effectiveness (Part 1)

by Xiao Yuhong | 28 December 2020

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Customer engagement

A customer’s perspective on a business is shaped by more than just the product/service, but also by the customer engagements experience before and after the purchase. Different customer engagement channels can result in varying quality in customer engagements experience. Many channels are concurrently employed for various purposes: telephone, web chat, and email as engagement channel for customer support; TV, radio, sponsorship as channels to achieve marketing goals.

Looking at the customer journey framework, you will notice most customer interactions happen either to achieve sales or to keep a customer satisfied after a sale. There are many means to the two ever important ends which begs the question, which customer engagement channels are better?

To help you make the right strategic choice of customer engagement channels, we have put together this article to help you evaluate customer engagement channels.

Engagement channels

In this discussion, the purpose of the customer engagement will only be discussed as a factor during the selection of customer engagement channels. This allows us to focus on the characteristics of the customer engagement channels. We have uncovered three keys consideration when assessing customer engagement channels: effectiveness, adaptiveness, and scalability. In part 1, we will cover how the effectiveness of customer engagement channels should be evaluated.

Is it effective?

We have identified three characteristics of customer engagement channels that are critical in the evaluation of the effectiveness of a customer engagement channel:

  1. form of message;
  2. mode of transmission (Interactivity), and
  3. customer base’s preference for the customer engagement channel

Form of Message

The form of message describes the way in which the intent of purpose is communicated. There are four basic form of messages: video, image, text and audio. The forms differ in sensory experience, richness and accordingly appeal & ease of consumption (Media Richness Theory: video > image > audio > text). Video in this context covers all engagement channels that uses visual dynamism, and sound. The term is loosely used here to also capture an aspect of face-to-face interactions.

Most traditional mediums have a dominant basic form while digital technology and real life in-person interactions deploy a combination of all forms. TV / YouTube uses the video form; Radio / podcast / Spotify utilizes audio; Advertising board, posters, and packaging are primarily image driven; support forums and user manuals are in text form; a company website present information in many forms (videos, text, and images).

Customer Support Activities

When we look closely at the purpose of customer interactions and common customer engagement choices, we notice that video and image forms are commonly selected for before sales customer engagement. The appeal & ease of consumption of the form provides fits perfectly when we are trying to generate customer awareness.

Additionally, a richer form of message usually correlates with higher cost. We can expect a video to be more expensive to produce as compared to a written article. This cost relationship coupled with businesses motivation to spend on revenue generating activities probably explains why I get advertising on youTube (video), and when I am browsing Instagram (image). It is also inline with the common experience of reading through Frequently Ask Questions on support sites and searching for answers on support forums (text).

We understand that richer forms can be more expensive. But in the evaluation of customer engagement channels, we will also promote one with a richer form.

Mode of Transmission (Interactivity)

In technical terms, this means if the channel allows for simplex or duplex mode of transmission. Or simply it means if we can interact on the customer engagement channel (podcast vs phone call, FAQ vs chatbot). Most customer engagement channels are not or has limited interactivity, because it is way more complex and expensive to use interactivity customer engagement channels.

This is not a problem when businesses are looking to create awareness. However, for the other purposes of customer engagement, using none interactive customer engagement channels are disadvantageous. The lack of interactivity makes it more difficult for customers to have a quality experience as they are unable to determine the direction of engagement. Without a personalized experience targeted at the customer’s intent, the customer incurs a higher search cost for information.

Businesses on the other hand miss out on the opportunity to collect direct feedback from customers. The lack of customer insights makes it harder to create an effective customer engagement message and design a quality customer engagement experience.

Always pick customer engagement channels that are interactive!

Preference for the customer engagement channel

There is a natural inclination of your customer base towards certain customer engagement channels. For example, if you are marketing your product/service to customers in their twenties, selecting traditional physical engagement channels (TV, magazines, newspapers) for advertising might be the most suitable. Even within social media channels, you need to figure out if Facebook, Instagram or TikTok is the preferred engagement channel of your customer base.

This means that having a good understanding of your customer base will be extremely helping in determining the effectiveness of an customer engagement channel. The knowledge will help you determine the effectiveness of a customer engagement channel given the purpose of customer engagement.

Another layer of complexity is added if you are looking to engage customers in multiple markets. Certain customer engagement channels are unavailable in certain markets (Google, Facebook Advertising in China) and some customer bases prefer a completely different engagement channel (Line is the most commonly used messaging app in Japan).

Mode of transmission and customer preference

Appealing, Interactivity, and Preferred

I hope you find our breakdown on how to evaluate the effectiveness of a customer engagement channel useful. Try out our interactivity chat experience that helps you evaluate the effectiveness of the customer engagement channel of interest!

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