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In case you haven’t noticed, we here at SAP for Telecommunications have been talking a lot about improving customer engagement recently as we’ve shared insights on personalization  and the importance of mapping the customer journey .

But we’re not the only ones that think customer engagement is important in today’s competitive environment. In fact, if you do a Google search on the term, you’ll get over 27 million results – in .36 seconds no less!

So if the world – including your competitors – is now focused on customer engagement, what can you do to differentiate yourself the rest?

To help you out, we’ve selected a few impactful strategies for what we are calling customer engagement 2.0 – or engaging customers the way they want to be engaged. These recommendations might not show up in the first 10 million hits on Google. But they may just be what you need to give you a leading edge advantage when it comes to engaging your customers in a way that will retain them and increase their loyalty.

Enhance personalization with humanization. We saw quite a few pundits on the topic of customer engagement encourage marketers to think more “human” – and we agree. We too think it’s time to stop thinking of your customers as data points, and instead, relate to them for what they are – everyday humans with distinct needs in relation to the services you offer. To do so requires knowing exactly where a particular customer is in his or her journey with you. And it means going beyond basic statistics to more meaningful ones, such as understanding what customers’ preferred channels are, and most importantly, what their sentiment is. All of this is possible today with Big Data and powerful analytics, so be one of the first to humanize your customer engagement and separate your company from the rest of the pack.

Empower your customers. Another interesting suggestion we encountered is the concept of engaging customers by allowing them to create their own products and solutions. Let’s face it, one customer’s needs may vary slightly – or greatly – from the next. Why not provide customers with tools that can help them create exactly the right solution for them, right in the present moment? Customers will no longer need to pay for services that they don’t use – and they will start buying more of the services they want to use. And they will feel like unique, valued – and happy – customers.

Do everything omnichannel. Whether called channel convergence or unified commerce, a big step this year is for any marketer, maybe especially marketers at telcos, to truly become an omnichannel marketer. If you haven’t already, it’s time to use all available channels to connect with your customers in the channel of their choice in any given moment, whether it’s email, mobile, web, retail or customer service. And with a human-focused personalization strategy that empowers customers, no matter what the touch point, you will be able to increase loyalty – and revenue – with this kind of delivery.

Bring sales and marketing together. This is probably a self-evident step that will fall out of an omnichannel approach, but it’s worth mentioning. Sales and marketing can no longer be silos that work independently. There must be an organizational shift in your company that brings these functions together in an integrated fashion that provides the ultimate in customer service for customers. They view you as a one company, so it’s time that you service them as one.

Adopt an attitude of transformation. This is a big one and not to be taken lightly – so here goes! We’ve talked before about the importance of a single version of truth regarding your customers and their journey. And we’ve also discussed the need for new business models that incorporate everything from Big Data to personalization to multichannel marketing. What this all boils down to is this: if you are really serious about improving your customer engagement, you must be truly willing to transform your business right here and now. One will not happen without the other. And while this is not an overnight process, you must start taking steps, like the ones we discussed here and in other recent blogs, now. Adopting an attitude of transformation will help your company embrace these strategic and tactical steps in a holistic, integrated way that will accelerate and streamline the process of change. The reality is to truly master customer engagement requires a company-wide effort that starts at the top and continues down to every corner of the company. It’s an effort that’s worth it, because with each and every step you take to achieve this, you’ll get closer to your customers – and it will be a win-win for all.

On that note, we’ll step back and ask you – are you ready to embrace customer engagement 2.0? Are you ready to step far out ahead of your competition?

Then let the journey begin! We’ll continue to support this initiative in the upcoming months and help you make this a successful and productive process that is rewarded with increased revenue, greater customer satisfaction, and a competitive advantage.

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