3 Customer Engagement Lessons From the Holidays That Apply All Year Round

By: Susan Ganeshan

February 5, 2015

Originally posted on Entrepreneur on January 19, 2015

Creating a positive customer experience is paramount for small businesses and startups trying to differentiate themselves from the competition. The good news is that, in today’s age of social media, businesses hear from their customers almost constantly, and this constant feedback presents an opportunity for a company to continuously engage with customers and improve the experience it offers. Then again, that’s also bad news, as unhappy customers have the power to destroy a brand, large or small.

So how can a small business use engagement to build a strong brand, make customers smile and keep business growing? One great showcase of missteps and successes in this arena is the holiday shopping season, as it’s unsurprisingly one of the most active times of the year for customer engagement and feedback.

In fact, parsing Twitter and Facebook data from the most recent holiday shopping period sheds light on some valuable customer engagement tips that all businesses should apply year round to better engage with customers.

1. Get, and stay, integrated

This past holiday season, social-media channels lit up with complaints about product availability and frustration when shoppers were unable to apply discounts and coupons to items. One big-box retailer saw a 78 percent increase in product availability mentions compared to all brands on Black Friday, along with a 71 percent increase compared to historical percentages.

Of course, no company sets out to disappoint customers or falsely advertise products. Instead, the issue usually stems from a lack of internal communication caused by untimely data integration and sharing. Integrating a variety of data sources can help make sure different teams, such as marketing and in-store staff, are on the same page with regards to availability. Additionally, focusing on real-time updates also helps staff guide customers more accurately.

Small businesses often have an advantage in this case, as integration and communication are easier with fewer teams and data. Use that to your advantage!

To read the rest of the article, please refer to Entrepreneur.