Customer Engagement

For most businesses today, creating an ongoing relationship, in which multiple sales are made, is part of their business strategy. Customer engagement is based on the idea that simply focusing efforts with customers on the immediate sale that you are trying to make may not always be the best way to create an ongoing sales relationship with the buyer. Rather, engagement over time may create a stronger relationship with greater organizational benefits.

Customer engagement is seen as being a critical element in their marketing activity by many organizations today. This is because customer behaviour has changed significantly over the past decade, and because more opportunities now exist to create positive engagement activities using social media than in the past.

Newspapers and magazines are flooded with vehicle ads, and they tend to fall into the “dime a dozen category”.  Vehicle ads are also commonplace on TV in the evening, and in particular on the weekend.  Many ads are essentially the same – oh, hum, time to have a cat nap during the commercial again.  One luxury car brand broken the mold for ads, and they’ve done it on a new channel, social media.   Yes, Lexus turned to social media to reach out and engage over 11 million Facebook users in unique and innovative ways.

Being able to create something customers want to engage with and something that catches their attention when they’re scrolling their news feeds daily is a struggle many companies are dealing with now that social media has taken over. Vacations and travel are no different, every company, resort, cruise ship wants you to pick them for your next holiday and how they approach their marketing and engaging customers could make or break their chance at earning your business. “Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. comprises six distinctive companies that share a vision anchored in excellence.” They operate in 47 countries with 50+ ships ranging with staterooms to fit 2500-7000 guests at a time. “We believe we are in the business of making tremendous memories” Michael Giresi, Chief Information Officer, Royal Caribbean Cruises. To make sure you are successful in making memories and meeting all the expectations of an amazing vacation you need to have exceptional customer experience, relationships and engagement not only during the trip but also leading up to it and afterwards. Royal Caribbean has been successful with this through their Crown and Anchor Loyalty Program, personalized emails based on recent searches and the new Royal IQ app that can be used on board. In today’s society everyone wants the newest, greatest and latest in everything they do which is why Royal Caribbean introduced Symphony of the Seas.  

In recent years, the ways in which customers behave and interact with organizations has changed significantly. Social media has led to greater competition and weaker brand loyalty, where organizations are finding it increasingly difficult to control their messages. Consumers now have a stronger presence in the market, and organizations are tapping into these changes to increase customer engagement. This is why customer engagement via social media marketing is so important to a company’s bottom line.

In order to properly engage customers on social media platforms, companies/organizations are wise to deviate from conventional in-your face marketing techniques and opt instead to learn to participate in organic communication with their consumers, which in turn fosters loyal relationships among old and new customers alike. General Mills is a prime example of a company that uses social media to their advantage. Not only do they listen to customers and engage them in meaningful ways, but they also have fun doing it. General Mills is what some would refer to as a food processing super giant. The company maintains over 80 leading brands in the USA alone, not to mention various others across the globe.

Rebirth Wellness Centre was founded in London, Ontario and it has done incredible work at making every centre user an advocate  “rebirth’s vision is to be a village where parents-to-be and new parents get what they need in mind, body, and heart to really thrive as parents.”. It is this clear path that has fueled the growth Rebirth making it the spot every mom and mom-to-be recommends.

About Kuch Khaas Kuch Khaas is a community space for discourse, learning, meaningful entertainment and participation in Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan. Kuch Khaas was founded in May 2010 when Pakistan was experiencing an ever increasing security threat due to the war on terror. As a result, common people in the country were starved of meaningful recreational options. Amidst this chaos, Kuch Khaas provided the residents of the capital city with a venue to not only unwind but also to exercise their creative expression. “A not-for-profit social enterprise, it advocates the pursuit of knowledge and civic engagement to slowly bring about “lasting social change in Pakistan.” (Mussadaq, 2010)  

LoYoBo Fit is a fitness program run by Courtney McCarthy in Guelph, ON. LoYoBo Fit, standing for Love Your Body Fitness, is about exercise and activity that promotes body positivity, healthy living, building self esteem, and having fun. Classes range from fun and energetic cardio like Zumba, to strength building exercises like Tone & Flex, to relaxing stretching and flexibility like Mind/Body Unwind. There are options for everyone, regardless of age or fitness level.

At G Adventures, their philosophy is about making the world a better place by creating genuine travel/tourism experiences for their customers in a responsible and sustainable manner. There is so much appeal in this vision.

Major League Baseball has been around since the late 1800’s and the New York Mets were born in 1962. But that hasn’t guaranteed that the next generation of fans are ready to jump onboard and younger people today are less likely to follow baseball than the generations before them. Enter social media. Teams are using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other online communication channels to engage their fans and promote their players, creating the link between their brand and their customer. Years ago, getting an autograph from your favourite player may have been the ultimate thrill, now it’s getting him to like your tweet.

It is hard to believe that purchasing razor blades would include a little comic relief but that is exactly what you get when you subscribe to the Dollar Shave Club. My husband, a member since 2014 signed up for The Dollar Shave Club (DSC) after seeing a video shared on Facebook. The Los Angeles-based startup launched in 2011 with the goal idea to steal market share from razor powerhouse, Gillette. Founder & CEO Michael Dubin promised a better price point: for $3 a month, no contracts and no hidden fees, DSC sends you a high quality razor. He created a crude and goofy viral video to support the launch. Fast forward to 2018 and that that video has been viewed over 25 million times, and DSC has grown to include 1.1 million subscribers, a whopping $615 million valuation in 2015, and most recently a $1 Billion all-cash acquisition by Unilever. DSC is a young, smart, stylish, yet playful brand. When you join the club, you’re not just signing on for low-cost razors and blades, you’re investing in the monthly “delight” that comes along with it. As a member, you get in on the joke and belong to an exclusive community that no other brand offers. If your brand can give someone an experience unlike any other; something they can share on Instagram, or mention to their coworkers or friends, they will be that much more pleased (and loyal) in the long run.

FirstOntario Credit Union (FCU) is a classic Canadian success story. FCU first began in 1939, they went through a number of name changes from Stelco Credit Union to Avestel and merged with Family Savings (formerly Auto Workers’ Credit Union) to eventually becoming FirstOntario Credit Union. FCU provide all of the services, safety and security of a major financial institution but with one big difference: “FirstOntario operate on a cooperative model so our Members (customers) are always first, and we see you as a person not a credit score”. They provide these services through 32 locations in 14 communities across Ontario, including Hamilton, Halton, Niagara, Norfolk, and Oxford.

When describing FreshBooks, CEO, Mike McDerment, refers to them as the “leader in online invoicing. What we do is help professionals and their contractors save time, look professional and get paid faster when they invoice their clients and each other. “ Not exactly a business model one would normally associate with a fresh (no pun intended) and ingratiating online presence — but the team at FreshBooks have managed to find a way to connect with customers through social media in a deep (and some would say, near-legendary) way.

What do you get when you mix a burger promotion and Valentine’s Day? You get a “Bling Mac”. What are the first two things that come to mind when you think Valentine’s Day? Would it be food and jewellery? Movies and flowers? In most cases, the trend on Valentine’s Day involves food and jewellery. http://bit.ly/2EjKxrw. This year McDonald’s has decided to stay on top of consumers’ minds during Valentine’s Day.

Company Overview The Faculty of Mathematics at the University of Waterloo opens its classroom doors beyond lecture halls to elementary and secondary schoolrooms in the community at large. Through contests, face-to-face workshops, nonprofit school visits, and providing online resources, the Faculty of Mathematics extends their educational doors through the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing (CEMC). The CEMC is a community outreach organization that aims to increase interest, enjoyment, confidence, and proficiency in mathematics and computer science education among students and teachers within Canada and internationally. To obtain more information about their outreach activities, please follow the links provided in each section: Contests Workshops & School Visits Online Resources MMT Program In addition to outreach activities, the CEMC also offers a Master of Mathematics for Teaching (MMT) program. The MMT is designed to provide current grade school teachers of mathematics with an opportunity to expand their knowledge base and to gain a deeper understanding of the mathematics underlying the content that they teach students in the classroom. The program is unique, in that it focuses on the applications of mathematics – not on pedagogy – and is offered part-time, as well as online. The majority of the Centre’s customers are teachers. This program is a way of building new relationships with new teachers, who enroll into the program. It’s a way to tap into new networks and the program even finds that many of the teachers blog or tweet and retweet about the Centre.

The Beatles knew it all along and wrote a song about it: “All you need is love.”  Yes, there can never be enough of it in the world. If only a business could pass that on to their customers. For sure a client whose heart has been touched would remember this treasured moment and will be loyal forever. But wait! There is actually one institution that succeeded in that mission. The Toronto-Dominion Bank, in short TD, North America’s sixth largest bank that serves worldwide more than 25 million customers. You are probably wondering: A bank giving love? How is that even possible? Don’t they normally have calculators instead of hearts, a general lack of compassion and the attitude of a robot? Well, don’t be so quick to judge. TD already knew that great customer service is not fully covered by saying a friendly ‘Hello’ and giving out free coffee, they knew it needs a deeper emotional connection. In 2014 they hired MARU/VCR&C, a research and consulting group, to conduct a survey with nearly 1,100 Canadian adults.  They found out three important facts: Canadians are more likely to say thank you when offered unsolicited help (41%) compared to when they receive a compliment (14%). Canadians appreciate the power of personal (90%) versus digital (49%) when it comes to being thanked. For example, they like to be thanked in person (85%) rather than through text or emoji (22%). Canadians thank friends (60%) more than their partner or spouse (50%). They thank customer service professionals (48%) and colleagues (36%) more than children (30%) and parents (29%). With this information in mind, TD started the #TDThanksYou campaign. Valued customers, that just wanted to do some quick banking at the ATM, were surprised with a personalized greeting and a touching thank-you gift. The video capturing customer reactions went viral (24 million views), and gave TD’s social media profile a huge boost.

The Stratford Festival in Stratford Ontario is the king of customer engagement! When you think of the people that flock to Stratford every year to see the theatre it is amazing.  Stratford Ontario has a population of 32,000 people, but in the summer that number will swell to almost a three quarters of a million people, why you ask?  The Stratford Festival of course! Tom Patterson first built the Stratford Festival in October 31,1952. Mr. Patterson saw a need to revitalize the city of Stratford after acknowledging the loss of the steam powered railway. The city of Stratford was facing a horrible ending unless something happened to keep it alive. Mr. Patterson also was an avid theatre goer who cherished Shakespearean plays. Since Stratford had the name of the birthplace of William Shakespeare, it made sense to open a Stratford Festival Theatre in Stratford Ontario. The first performance of Richard III and All’s Well That Ends Well took place in July 1953 and the Stratford Festival was born!

Chevrolet is one of the world’s largest automotive brands, doing business in more than 140 countries. In the Middle East (ME), Chevrolet has a strong heritage that has come to represent a trusted automotive brand that fulfills transportation needs and aspirations of customers. In 2015 – Chevrolet approached Traffic Digital, and their event partners Blink Experience, with an admirable corporate social responsibility (CSR) idea. This encouraged people to give back during the Holy Month of Ramadan. The idea involved a widespread on social media, posting about the campaign meant truly contributing to it. For every post, Chevrolet would donate Iftar meals to workers residing in labor camps across 6 selected cities (Jeddah, Riyadh, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Doha). Social Media Marketing is an ideal way reach an audience. Real time sharing and the ability to ride your consumers’ emotional waves provides a top notch marketing opportunity. “Having been in the Middle East for nearly 100 years, Chevrolet understands the importance of Ramadan as a special time to reflect and give. And we want to give: to our customers and to the community in general,” said Markus Leith, Managing Director (ME) Commercial Operations. An analysis of the IPAdataBANK has shown, campaigns with purely emotional content performed about twice as well as those with purely rational content.  

Social media (as its name suggests) seems to function best for customer engagement when companies bypass the impersonal and take the customer firmly by the (digital) hand. This courting is difficult to do, yet Lay’s Canada (a PepsiCo company), a brand which largely relies on *actual* consumer consumption of their products, recognized that giving the customer agency, or the feeling of ‘a say’ in the design or production of a product is a highly effective, person-to-person way of engaging consumers, relying on them to buy Lay’s products with the subtle feeling that they have had a personal investment or stake in the brand. As a marketing tool, this kind of consumer-business enmeshment is prime territory for social media, which functions largely (and hopefully successfully) as a means of engagement. By researching a consumer’s stake in the product offering, companies like Lay’s assess which viral topics or trends are meaningful to their customers, and follow suit with an effectively-designed interactive digital campaign to increase daily or ongoing engagement with the public. And the outcome of this kind of campaign can be unprecedented.

Competition and teamwork is at the core of human motivation. What many of us struggle to achieve on our own, without supervision and benchmarks, can often be achieved when we are pushed beyond our comfort zone and joined by others with a common goal. Nike has repeatedly leveraged this fundamental element of human nature, and has successfully gamified the typical shopping experience through their online community: NikePlus.  

Were you aware that a small staff of six are working to save the lives of LGBTQI people all over the world? As the name Rainbow Railroad implies they work to discreetly move people out of dangerous circumstances into safe houses, and often on to a safe haven in a new country. Their name is intended to pay homage to the Underground Railroad that began in the 1780s. In April of this year, the abduction, detentions, torture and deaths of 200 plus LGBTQI Chechens were documented by the media. What you may not realize is that this is a global problem. Homosexuality is illegal in over 70 countries, several of which impose a death sentence. Living in a country where homosexuality has been decriminalized does not guarantee one’s safety. Rainbow Railroad has grown to a team of six employees (five in Canada, and one in the United States) and obtained charitable status in 2013. The inspiration to begin Rainbow Railroad came from a homeless Palestinian youth during World Pride in  Tel Aviv in 2006. Supported by an active board of directors and countless volunteers, this organization has assisted more than 300 individuals to date.

Financial services is well known to be a conservative industry, as well it should be. It is an industry that is highly regulated, as well as having privacy restrictions that limit how they can use social media. (Wilson, 2017) It is also an industry where trust is an integral part of growing and maintaining their customer base. Sun Life Financial has been providing insurance and financial services to Canadians for generations. These services today are often provided by advisors who have a degree of independence, however, they still represent Sun Life, which is why it is important for advisors to follow the social media guidelines set out by the main corporate body of the company. Having a consistent message across the company is an important aspect of maintaining customer trust.

Netflix is one of the most successful subscription services in the world, 5.2 million customers in Canada.  Netflix not only is winning with customer engagement through its content on its services but their “Suggestions for you” their strategy of how they have engaged their customers at a level never-before-seen.The U.S. Facebook Page is a mix of videos, gifs and occasionally images, all related to the currently streaming episodes and movies.

LiveCA LLP is a virtual CPA firm. Founded in 2012 when Josh Zweig CPA, CA, LPA and Chad Davis CPA, CMA joined forces and created an online accounting firm out of a love of technology and desire to work from anywhere with an internet connection. As Canada’s first online only accounting firm they provide the same professional services as a traditional brick and mortar firm such as tax, accounting, bookkeeping, payroll and technology services however with an emphasis and focus on systems. “Being a virtual practice in itself is not anything special,” says Chad. “But what makes it game-changing is how we have also focussed on building a practice driven by customer needs, not pricing based on a menu and not being closed minded on the services we’ll offer. Through this we spent a lot of time on processes, documenting as much as we can, systematically learning from every failure, and involving everybody in the firm in constantly improving every single aspect of what we do. Because of that we are able to attract the very best people, wherever they are located in the country. It’s really rewarding working next to people who believe the same things you believe and work tirelessly every day to make the lives of our customers better.” Chad Davis, CPA, CMA, Partner at LiveCA LLP, quoted in “LiveCA – how a practice became totally digital” How does LiveCA LLP engage with clients and build strong client relationships?

While Wendy’s might normally be known for their famous sides – fries, chilli, baked potato, salad and the original frosty – their side of sassy social media responses brought them into 2017 as one of the hottest brands on Twitter. Earlier in the year, the fast food chain responded to media requests affirming that their social media accounts had not, in fact, been hacked. This after a series of responses coming from the official Wendy’s Twitter account to followers who engaged with the company on social media.

As one of the biggest international beauty stores, Sephora has managed to surpass retailers by increasing the number of engaged online and instore customers. After winning the 2017 The World Retail Congress’s International Retailer of the Year, the company has been able to enhance the in-store retail experience by letting customers take the in-store experience home with them. “Sephora has more than 20 million customers that shop and interact with the brand with thousands of products and 100 brand partners who bring these products to life (Forte, D. (2017)”. Now all of these customers have the ultimate online shopping experience.