7 ways to improve customer engagement on a tight budget

Natalie Smithson
AI enthusiast | Tea addict | Focused on using AI assistants to win the working week
Two people sit at a table in an office with a report for discussion and a bag of money

If you want to forge a deep connection with your customers to keep them coming back to your brand year after year, ahead of even your biggest competitors, improving engagement is one way to do it. After all, your most loyal customers are 23% more likely to spend money with you.

But how do you improve customer engagement when your budget’s now tighter than a submarine hatch?

Read on to find out why a well-executed customer engagement strategy will be the key to your success in making improvements, even if you’re on a tight budget.

TL;DR

  • You can improve customer engagement for free or with only a cash-free incentive; your biggest investment will be your time
  • Following a set strategy for improving customer engagement gives you the best possible chance of success because it documents your plans and keeps you on track
  • Being active on social media, sending emails, giving away freebies, using live chat, and personalising services are just some of the ways you can increase customer engagement
  • Track metrics for conversion and customer satisfaction as well as customer experience measures like first contact resolution and customer effort score
  • Using AI means customers can enjoy a 24-hour support service and engage with your company any time they want to on any channel

What is a customer engagement strategy?

A customer engagement strategy is a clear plan showing how you’ll create valuable experiences for customers to keep them loyal. Confirm the channels you’ll use to engage with people, what kinds of content you’ll share, how you’ll listen and respond to their feedback, and what rewards or incentives you might offer.

Why is it important to have a customer engagement strategy?

Following a set strategy for improving customer engagement gives you the best possible chance of success because it documents your plans and keeps you on track:

  • Set clear goals for improvement
  • Assign tasks to individuals and teams
  • Know how you’ll manage resources
  • Decide how to maximise efficiency
  • Anticipate challenges you might face

Make a commitment to improving engagement

Having a strategy cements your commitment to improving customer experience, and when you focus on giving customers value beyond the price tag, you can quickly turn them into loyal brand advocates. This, in turn, is good for your organisation since Salesforce found 93% of consumers are more likely to make repeat purchases after a positive customer service experience. What’s more, 78% will do business with you again, even if you make a mistake.

93% of customers will buy again after a positive experience. A woman sits on a laptop making an online purchase.

Increase revenue

84% of companies also say improving customer engagement increases revenue, so you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity by simply not having a plan.

84% of companies say better customer engagement = more revenue. A woman holds a magnet in front of a graph showing revenue going up.

Increase customer lifetime value

Lifetime value (LTV) estimates the total value a customer will bring to your business over the course of your relationship. The higher the value, the better. Naturally, LTV goes up when customers make repeat purchases, but referrals are also important and 94% of consumers who rate your customer service “very good” are likely to recommend you to someone else.

94% of satisfied customers will recommend you to others. A man stands inside a rosette.

If you want to improve engagement to increase loyalty, revenue, and LTV, put together a customer engagement strategy and use it as your guide towards a positive outcome.

7 tactics for improving customer engagement on a tight budget

You can include any of the following seven suggestions for improving engagement in your customer engagement strategy, since they’re free to implement (if not free forever) or require only a cash-free incentive. Your biggest investment will be your time, so plan how to use it wisely.

1. Be active on social media

“In 2022, over 4.59 billion people were using social media worldwide” and this number is set to rise to almost 6 billion by 2027.

Create compelling and shareable content, engage with customers through comments and direct messages, run contests and giveaways, and provide customer support. Customers can then engage with your organisation in real time, creating more of a bond, so you can build long-lasting relationships. You’ll also get a better understanding of customer needs and preferences.

  • Get started: Free
  • Costs: Ads if you choose to use them

2. Fill your blog with useful content

Having a blog helps you drive traffic to your website, establish your authority, improve your SEO rankings, and express your unique brand personality.

Create high-quality, informative content relevant to your target audience, encourage comments and social sharing, use visuals and multimedia to enhance engagement, and actively promote your blog through email newsletters and social media. Your blog posts not only help build trust and relationships with customers, they should offer valuable information and resources to help your readers make informed decisions.

  • Get started: Free
  • Costs: Domain name and hosting services

3. Send emails to customers regularly

99% of people check their email every day and OptinMonster says email marketing is far from dead; it has a 4400% ROI.

Create personalised and relevant content, segment your email list to target specific groups, include clear calls to action, and provide exclusive promotions or incentives. Regular emails keep customers informed about everything you’re doing, from new or upgraded products and services to latest offers, which consistently reminds them of the value your business brings.

  • Get started: Free
  • Costs: Advanced platform features if you choose to use them

4. Give away freebies

Once a customer has accepted a free gift, working on the principle of commitment they’re then more likely to spend money on your product.

Offer complimentary perks or value-added benefits to your customers, like free shipping, extended warranty, or exclusive access to content or events relevant to your audience. This encourages customers to make a purchase and keeps them feeling valued and connected.

  • Get started: Non-cash expense
  • Costs: Prizes or experiences if you choose to offer them

5. Launch an AI chatbot

Consumer chatbot usage has doubled since 2020 and McKinsey estimates “half of today’s work activities could be automated between 2030 and 2060”.

Deliver round-the-clock customer support, handle queries and transactions instantly, reduce contact volumes and wait times, offer more personalised services, upsell and cross-sell, and integrate with your other business systems for a seamless omnichannel experience. AI automation is essential to be able to provide an efficient, personalised, and convenient way for your customers to get the answers they need quickly.

6. Use live chat

Live chat provides an opportunity to quickly increase the efficiency of your customer services, offering instant support for issues that can’t be automated. Resolving queries in real time can improve customer satisfaction and engagement while maintaining a personal connection with your customers where needed.

Incidentally, the more you use live chat to speak with customers who need help directly from your teams, the more you learn where the gaps are in your support services. You can then train an AI assistant to answer those queries to reduce the need for people to call in, which naturally reduces live chat handovers.

A green chart shows the number of live chat conversations with the AI assistant going up and up.
A red chart shows the number of live chat conversations with the support team going down and down.
  • Get started: Free
  • Costs: Free

7. Personalise your service using AI

66% of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs” and personalising services and support is one way to show you do.

Tailor offers, content, and support using customer data to spot trends and improve personalisation with targeted advertising and better recommendations to enhance the customer experience. This personalised approach means customers can feel more valued the more you get to know them.

BONUS: The majority of these ideas also offer opportunities for real time customer engagement to connect you and your customers instantly (at a time and place most convenient for them) whenever they need you for an even closer sense of connection.

Metrics customer service professionals use to track success

The metrics you use to track progress on customer engagement improvements will vary depending on the industry you’re in, the size of your business, your goals for success, and available resources.

Conversion and satisfaction

When you start to focus on customer engagement, you’ll naturally start to track how many people convert and how happy they are using these kinds of metrics:

  • Conversion rate
    The percentage of website visitors who take a desired action, like making a purchase, asking for a meeting, or subscribing to a newsletter. Increase engagement and you’re more likely to increase conversions since you’re building familiarity and trust.
  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)
    How satisfied customers are with your products or services, usually on a ratings scale of 1 to 5 (not at all satisfied through to very satisfied).
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS)
    How likely a customer is to recommend you to others, often on a scale of 0-10.

When you know how you’re performing today, it opens up an opportunity to always be improving.

Customer experience

To keep tabs on the experience your customers are having, you can drill deeper into more focused metrics to make sure you’re delivering robust customer support:

  • First Contact Resolution (FCR)
    How many customers have their issue resolved on the first attempt? If this figure is low and people have to contact you multiple times, that’s likely to be a cause of frustration.
  • Average Handling Time (AHT)
    If it takes a while to resolve customer queries, this can also be a cause of disgruntled customers. To measure you’re AHT and find out how you’re doing, take the average duration of a single customer interaction, from the initial point of contact until it’s fully resolved.
  • Customer Effort Score (CES)
    Customers won’t want to go to a lot of effort to get the help they need. Ask how easy they found it to get help on a scale of 1-5 to monitor their experience.

If your scores here are good, all you have to do is keep them that way.

Track everywhere and track consistently

Whatever metrics you choose, use ones that show the true impact of all activities across your whole customer base and track them consistently, using a framework like Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), so you can easily follow your progress and quickly deal with any problem areas.

Why AI is your secret weapon for improving customer engagement

Salesforce found high-performing service organisations are 2.1 times more likely than underperformers to be using AI chatbots.

It’s fast and easy to train a next-generation AI assistant and they’re infinitely scalable, so customers can enjoy a 24-hour support service and engage with your company any time they want to on any channel. That’s a far superior experience than waiting in a lengthy call queue or for a reply to an email, especially since the average response time for customer service emails is 12 hours and 62% of businesses ignore email altogether.

Engage with customers on every channel

Your AI assistant can live simultaneously on social media, messaging services like WhatsApp, smart speakers, SMS, and more, so rather than build several expensive pieces of kit to create customer engagement touchpoints, simply add more features to your one affordable AI assistant.

Easily support multiple departments

You can use one AI assistant across multiple departments, like Barking & Dagenham Council. Theirs handles everything from council tax and benefits to parking permits, so customer engagement is opened up across the whole council, not just for isolated tasks in one team.

Treat every customer as an individual

Tens of thousands of customers can engage with your AI assistant all at once and in real time without ever slowing it down. That’s unlike traditional websites where Google found 53% of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

Get instant feedback to improve services

Every time a customer engages with your AI assistant, you can get instant, on-the-spot feedback. Instead of creating a separate survey using an external service or provider, you can include a rating scale (use emojis if you want to) at the end of every conversation.

The needs and preferences of your customers are ever-evolving, as are the technologies and tools you can use to satisfy them. Having a customer engagement strategy makes sure you continuously improve your offer to meet those needs and create better customer experiences, which can lead to increased customer loyalty and business growth.

FAQs

How can a customer engagement strategy increase revenue?

When customers have a positive experience, they are more likely to become loyal brand advocates and spend more money with your business. Improving customer engagement can also increase repeat purchases and referrals, which increases the lifetime value of your customers.

What is effective customer engagement?

Effective customer engagement is a plan of action that involves building strong relationships with customers that last beyond a sale. It involves identifying and documenting communication channels to reach customers, sharing valuable content, listening and responding to customer feedback, and offering rewards or incentives.

How can a business listen to and act on customer feedback?

Businesses can use a variety of methods to listen to and act on customer feedback, such as surveys, social media listening tools, customer service interactions, and data analysis. It’s important to clarify how feedback will be used ― and act on it, to show customers you value their opinions.

How can I use chatbots to improve customer engagement?

Advanced AI assistants are now so affordable they’re accessible to every customer service professional regardless of their budget. With rapid growth and infinite scalability, AI assistants offer round-the-clock service. Customers can conveniently engage with your company on any channel, at any time, seeking solutions to both simple and complex queries.