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How to Truly Connect with Customers: 3 Strategies from Khoros Engage NYC 2019

by Phil Garbrecht | May 21, 2019

Khoros Engage NYC 2019 gathered experts from top brands for a day of digital customer engagement insights and networking. The topic on everyone’s mind: how to truly connect with customers in today’s multi-channel, quick-toggling digital landscape. “When we think about what creating customers for life means, it really comes down to creating authentic, meaningful connections at scale,” said Katherine Calvert, CMO at Khoros. But as she added, “that's really hard to do.”

Creating customers for life comes down to creating authentic, meaningful connections at scale.

Creating and building meaningful connections is difficult no matter how many customers your brand interacts with. For enterprise companies that often field millions of interactions each day, it can feel downright impossible to connect on an authentic level. But behind the challenge lies a great reward: “When your customers feel like you know them just as well as they know you, you build brand loyalty, and you create customers for life,” said Calvert.

We heard from many incredible brands at Khoros Engage NYC 2019, and in this post, you’ll learn three strategies from LogMeIn, Frito Lay of North America, and Synchrony.

Support Self-Service for Customers

An important step in fostering an authentic relationship with your customers is empowering them to help themselves, when appropriate, and a strong digital community can help. Lisa Radden, eServices Manager at LogMeIn said, “One of our key strategic goals at LogMeIn is to make our customer support experience a competitive differentiator and our Khoros Community plays an important role in that.”

An important step in fostering an authentic relationship with your customers is empowering them to help themselves.

In LogMeIn’s community, customers can get their questions answered without ever needing to talk to a care agent or contact the brand. Customers can also ask each other questions, and agents monitor the community so they can direct people with more difficult questions to a channel where they can find resolution for their issues, such as 1:1 chat with an agent.

“We believe that over time, we should and can rely more and more on our customers to answer questions and less and less on our agents in the communities,” explained Radden. “We believe we can do this through membership, promotion, gamification, and content curation. If we can recruit some of our most helpful customers and nurture them in our communities then our agents can become more like advisers, and some of those customers can become more like champions or ambassadors for the brand to the community.” Nothing builds a community like member investment, and nothing fosters investment like responsibility and personal connection.

Keep Your Brand Human — Internally and Externally

In the rush to forge connections with customers, occasionally a brand’s message can become too diluted with jargon. This problem usually starts before the message reaches the customer, when the marketing team is developing their strategy, explained Chris Bellinger, VP of creative and digital for Frito Lay, North America. In order to truly connect, marketing teams should write their campaign strategy in the same human language that will ultimately reach customers. Otherwise it’s too easy to fall into business jargon and deliver a message that customers tune out.

In order to truly connect, marketing teams should write their campaign strategy in the same human language that will ultimately reach customers.

“What I’ve told people is to explain their message [internally] the same way they would talk to someone in a bar. There’s no way in a bar you’d say, ‘Well, I’m targeting the young families who want to reconnect with their lost sense of blah blah blah.’” Instead, suggested Bellinger, phrase the same marketing strategy as you would in an everyday conversation: “I’m targeting a mom who wants to have fun with their kids.” Translating your strategy from jargon to language people use every day will help ensure your brand accurately understands customers and remains authentic and trustworthy in their eyes.

Become Your Customers’ Cheerleader

When your customers feel that your brand is connected to their success, you build loyalty and lasting customer relationships, explained Nicole Johnson, VP of Social Media for Synchrony. As a financial services brand, Synchrony is in a unique position to champion their customers’ financial successes, but brands of all kinds can learn from their mission: “Our basic foundation is that everyone has a unique ambition, and we are here to facilitate and celebrate those unique ambitions.”

Ultimately, when you share in your customers’ successes — big and small — you build authentic connections with them, and those connections can evolve into lasting brand loyalty.

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