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Customer engagement automation 101: a not-so-basic guide

Over the past year or so, the phrase “customer engagement automation” has gained a great deal of traction in certain business circles. But despite its buzziness, the concept is actually more than just a trendy phrase to incorporate into your corporate vocabulary. In fact, it represents a holistic strategy designed to capture and hold individuals' interest at every stage of their product experience.

By offering proactive support and minimizing the manual workload for businesses, this approach seeks to captivate customers' attention consistently and effectively.

Identifying the appropriate moments to step in along this journey, however, presents a unique challenge to businesses. Further, executing these interventions on a large scale only amplifies the complexity of the challenge. Because of this, it’s imperative that companies explore methods that allow for proactive support in an automated fashion.

In this article, you’ll find out what customer engagement automation means and why it’s important, with examples to illustrate its relevance in specific circumstances. You’ll also learn how to implement an automated customer engagement platform, followed by best practices that will help ensure you make the most of it.

What is customer engagement automation?

Customer engagement automation is the strategic integration of technology to enhance the relationship between a business and its buyers. It involves managing all interactions throughout their lifecycle, with the goal of maximizing the value customers derive from a product while nurturing an enduring connection with the company.

This approach leverages mechanization features, like chatbots, routing rules, and autogenerated article suggestions to streamline repetitive tasks and processes. By automating these interactions, businesses can efficiently engage with customers, providing timely support and personalized assistance, thereby fostering a robust and enduring relationship.

Why is it important to use an automated customer engagement platform?

Automated customer engagement platforms can ensure consistent and convenient communication with customers. These software programs can send targeted content to customers at particularly opportune times based on their behavior and preferences. This high level of personalization ensures that the best message reaches customers at the right time.

For instance, if your audience tends to have questions at a certain stage of their purchasing journey, an automated customer engagement system can proactively share resources to help them clarify any doubts they might have.

This seamless, personalized communication not only captures the customer's attention but also provides them with valuable and relevant information, enhancing their overall shopping experience.

How do customers want to talk to businesses? Our new survey reveals what you need to know.

Customer engagement automation examples

1. Interactive onboarding and walkthroughs

Starting your customer success strategy early in the customers’ lifecycle is crucial. Maximize your opportunities right from the beginning by leveraging a customer engagement automation tool during the onboarding process. The easier and quicker it is for customers to grasp how to use your product or service, the faster they will recognize its value.

If customers don't fully understand your offer appeal – especially within the first few days – they are less likely to renew, recommend, or upgrade.

Our guided Product Tours is an effective solution for ensuring success from day one. These guided journeys enable you to craft an engaging, interactive, personalized, and relevant onboarding experience that swiftly familiarizes your customers with your key value propositions.

The product tours allow you to create interactive guides that walk customers through the initial setup steps, customize the experience with videos, and showcase your most impressive features.

2. Triggered upsells and cross-sells

Triggered upsells and cross-sells are a powerful customer engagement automation strategy that can help increase revenue and customer satisfaction. This technique involves offering complementary or upgraded products or services to customers based on their buying behavior or interests.

For instance, if a customer has just purchased a new camera, the system can trigger a recommendation for a memory card or a camera bag. This isn’t just helpful for the customer, though; it also boosts the likelihood of additional purchases, increasing revenue for the business.

Triggered upsells and cross-sells can be implemented through email, mobile apps, or even on-site pop-ups, and can be tailored to individual customers.

By providing personalized recommendations and a streamlined shopping experience, businesses can foster a stronger relationship with their customers, leading to increased loyalty and brand advocacy.

3. Self-service support within the product

Another great example of customer engagement automation is self-service support within the product. This feature allows people to find answers to their queries without having to contact customer support or leave your app/website.

Imagine that you have an e-commerce store that sells football shirts. When looking for a gift for a child or friend, users may be unsure which size is best.

In moments of doubt like this, you can proactively share an article that shows how to properly measure the item so that the fit is perfect.

This way, the user feels empowered to make a purchasing decision and your company avoids what could be a point of friction in the online experience.

By enabling customers to find solutions on their own, businesses can not only reduce their support costs but also improve overall satisfaction. Self-service support can take various forms, such as FAQ pages, knowledge bases, and video tutorials.

How to implement an automated customer engagement platform?

1. Identify your customers’ needs

To successfully implement an automated customer engagement platform, it's crucial to identify your customers' specific needs and requirements. This involves gaining a deep understanding of your customer base, including their preferences, behaviors, and pain points.

By analyzing this data, you can determine areas where automation can add value, such as customer support. Additionally, it's important to consider your business goals and objectives, and how an automated customer engagement platform can help you achieve them.

2. Choose an automated customer engagement platform

There are many different automated customer engagement platforms available on the market. When choosing yours, make sure it meets your specific business demands and budget, as well as a few key non-negotiable features:

  • User-friendliness: The software must have an intuitive interface that is easy to navigate and that requires minimal training from your staff to operate effectively.

  • Multichannel support: This refers to the ability to engage customers across various channels (email, SMS, social media, website, mobile apps).

  • Personalization capabilities: The best platforms offer you advanced resources for tailoring messages based on customer behavior, preferences, and demographics.

  • Analytics and reporting: Customer engagement automation is all about getting interactions right with minimum effort. That’s why you need real-time tracking of key metrics, including campaign performance, customer responses, and conversions.

  • Integration and compatibility: In the age of digital transformation, any new tool must be able to integrate fluidly into your existing tech stack. After all, new technologies should be enhancing the functionalities of each system, not cluttering them.

  • Scalability: Lastly, a great customer engagement automation system should be able to accommodate growing customer bases and increased communication volumes without any significant complications.

3. Design, implement, and test your workflows

Once you have chosen an automated customer engagement platform, the next step is to design your workflows.

Workflows are a series of automated actions that occur in response to a customer's behavior. For example, if a person abandons their shopping cart, you can set up a workflow to automatically send them an email reminder.

After you have designed your workflows, the next step is to implement them. This involves setting up:

  • Triggers, which are the events that initiate a workflow.

  • Conditions, which are the rules that determine whether a workflow should be triggered.

  • Actions, which are the automated tasks that occur as part of the workflow.

The third step is to test everything to ensure the process is working as intended. Keep in mind that errors also serve as valuable information, because they help you identify areas that can be improved.

4. Monitor and adjust based on data

Finally, it's important to continuously monitor your automated customer engagement platform and make adjustments as needed. This includes tracking your data to identify patterns and adjusting your workflows to improve the overall experience.

Best practices for an automated customer engagement strategy

When it comes to implementing an automated customer engagement strategy, there are several best practices you should consider. These thoughtful actions will allow you to create an effective game plan that delivers results. Let’s take a look:

1. Map out key processes

Mapping processes helps you to understand the customer journey from the first contact to the final conversion. To complete this initial step, you should:

  • Identify which channels your customers use to interact with your business.

  • List all possible interactions customers can have at each stage.

  • Categorize interactions based on their nature (e.g., inquiry, purchase, support request, payment methods).

  • Clearly state what you want to achieve with customer engagement automation at each touchpoint.

This will enable you to choose an appropriate automated customer engagement platform that aligns with your objectives, as well as the right triggers according to customers’ actions.

2. Use different types of segmentation

Creating segmentation helps you to divide your customer base into groups based on their behavior, demographics, or preferences. This allows you to send targeted and personalized messages to each group, improving the chances of conversion.

Let’s say you run an e-commerce store selling a variety of beauty products, and you want to improve your customer engagement rates. Applying segmentation can significantly enhance your efforts. Here's how you can do it:

  • Behavioral segmentation: You divide your customers based on their conduct. For instance, Group A is composed of shoppers who frequently browse specific product categories but haven't made a purchase. Group B, meanwhile, includes customers who regularly make purchases from your site. 

  • Demographic segmentation: Here, you categorize customers based on factors such as age, gender, location, or income level. For example, Group C might be a segment for young adults interested in trendy makeup products, while Group D is made up of middle-aged women interested in skin care products.

  • Preference-based segmentation: This segmentation strategy categorizes customers based on their preferences. For example, some customers might prefer vegan or cruelty-free products, while others might be interested in exclusive deals and discounts.

Once you’ve accumulated enough of this information, you can automate personalized email reminders and product recommendations, as well as seasonal promotions and exclusive offers.

3. A/B Testing

A/B testing involves testing two versions of a message or workflow to see which one performs better. It’s your chance to figure out what moves the needle and focus your efforts on the winning strategy.

Offer proactive support to your customers with Intercom

Customer engagement automation can go a long way in providing proactive assistance to the people who buy your products and services. To make sure they have the right guidance throughout their journeys without having to invest any of their own time and efforts toward it, you must leverage the power of technology.

That's why we at Intercom have designed a cutting-edge platform that allows businesses to give customers the support they need before they even ask for it.

What does this mean for your company's day-to-day operations? The ability to onboard, educate, and notify your customers with in-context, automated messages, cutting support volume and keeping customers happy.

Are you ready to get ahead of your support volume? Start a free trial or ask for a demo.