Customer Engagement for Small Business

Telling business owners that they need to have some plans for customer engagement is easy. However, once they have absorbed that tidbit of helpful information, many may be lost as to what customer engagement can actually entail. Most likely, there is nothing that you in particular are selling, that can’t be found somewhere else. So what can the small business owner do to show that their product is the right choice for the consumer?

Be a Customer for a Day

Spend a day emulating the actions that your prospective consumers do.

  1. Call your customer service number.
  2. Go through the motions of purchasing your own product.
  3. Fill out your contact forms.

Make sure that your customer experience matches your outlook and ideas.

Build Communication Options

Not everyone uses Facebook and Twitter believe it or not. Make sure you have traditional methods of communication as well as digital ones. List phone numbers and a physical address for your business, even if it is online based.

Exercise and Act on Your Listening Skills

It isn’t enough to reply to customers questions or request with generic terms. When prospective consumers ask for discounts or other beneficial options, show them you are listening by enacting them. You will get no better word of mouth advertising then having a consumer who can say “I asked for a discount, and they gave me one!” This doesn’t mean you have to offer that discount to everyone who asks, but you should never outright ignore those request.

Show Your Integrity

Since bad news can travel with light speed on the internet, you may need to go out of your way to show your customers that not only are you expert at what you do, but that you back that professionalism with personal integrity. Show your customers that the people behind the brand care.

Let Your Customers Advertise for You

Anything that you can do to get your consumers to share their product or service experiences with the public will provide you with two benefits. Obviously it will give you the valuable advertising you are seeking, but it will also provide you with media that you can post to help build top-notch links for your site. Don’t expect your customers to do this for no reward though. Their time is valuable too. Try to run contest for the best written or video reviews of your project. Reward the winners appropriately for their time spent talking about your products and services.

Above all it is important that any consumers approaching you for your products or services walk away with the sense that you are a brand they can trust and rely on.




  1. Great stuff here. I can see why social examiner has you in the top 10! I am going to do the things you mentioned today!

  2. Customer engagement, in all sincerity determines the level and volume of patronage any business could possibly get. It goes a long way to determine the success of your business.

  3. I will be happy to do a video review for anyone that wants to comment on a company’s performance. Thanks for the good tips, Basil and congratulations in our nomination as semi-finalists in the Social Media Examiner’s Blog Competition 2012.

  4. lots of biz forget to “play customer” and if they do remember, they forget to do it from a point of view out in the real world on a 3rd party connection instead from the safety of their corp LAN!

  5. Thanks for the info.
    Maybe they don’t have FB or Twitter, but it doesn’t mean they are disconnected from the web.
    The customers can utilize the SMBs online presence for information, customer service, tickets, live chat etc.

  6. This is great advice! Walk in the shoes of your customer to know what they go through in dealing with your company, from visiting your website to speaking to salespeople or trying to make a return.

    Regarding your specific advice, it is so common that a website doesn’t list a physical address or phone number. I will never do financial business with a company where I don’t even know where they are located. This should clearly be in the footer and on the Contact page and a Feedback form is no an adequate replacement for providing basic contact information should the customer want to call or write you.

  7. It’s like those ‘talk to a real human’ buttons. A photo of the staff is a very good way to show you are real and inviting people to interact with you. A real photo, not a stock photo of a blond girl with long hair and a headset.

  8. I definitely agree to the testing of your own systems! Without doing this, do you really know what your customers are experiencing?

  9. a lot of good stuff, I shall inwardly read and digest over dinner 🙂

  10. Measuring engagement and results is an interesting topic.

  11. There are uncountable others who can provide the very same services we offer. Your suggestions provide the competitive edge: Are we engaged? Are we listening? Are we operating with integrity?

  12. These are excellent points, many of which we quickly forget! I’m thinking particularly of the fact that not everyone using the latest technology. Some people actually prefer to use the phone and it can be hard to find that number on some website and other social media.

  13. Customers are the lifeblood of any business. Walking in the shoes of your customer can be both revealing and shocking. Every business should consider doing this. Even if you are a virtual business, you had better have a phone number and an address. There are many cheap alternatives to each of these (majicjack and UPS store). Having both a virtual and real presence increases trust and should lead to more business. If you have the trust and great customer service, you won’t have time to take care of all of your customers.

  14. Good stuff — very thorough. Will be reading this one again.

  15. Great article. I like the idea that you call your customer service center as an anonymous to learn how bad (or good) your service.

  16. This is very good advise. If you put yourself in the shoes of the customer you know what needs to be improved and where the customer finds their benefit. I would seven go one step further. Whenever possible use the products and services you sell yourself. This way the clients can be assured that you have a real investment in them.

  17. This is becoming one of my favorite site for “Why didn’t I think of that !”…lol..Another great post,Basil. I have been happy with trying to think like the customer BUT had not actually thought of acting like the customer..duh ! Why do we always overlook the simple stuff ?…thought I might add something…I have been reading alot of comments in groups and am kinda concerned with the amount of negative banter going on between much of the competition in mlm. I try to avoid commenting on that kind of post because being invoved in an online debate could leave a very sour taste in the mouths of customers. Not only may they come across these debates and be sadly disappointed but we,as the competition,might also be a customer ! I am not sure if those involved just don’t care or are overlooking that simple fact…Let’s face it,we are not all in the same business in this industry and may need and use our competitors products and services. I would prefer if we could think of ourselves as allies rather than enemies.In such cases One may be chasing their own customers away,unawares….just a little food for thought ! Perhaps you have some suggestions or insight..I would love to hear some feedback on that one…thanks…Dee

    • Well it turns out that strong brands have found it a good practice to take the negative comment or conversation and respond to it publically but in a way that moves the conversation from a public space toa private. This has foudn to be useful because it shows that when something does go wrong its not ignored and then also gives a chance for brand identifiers to support the brand. In some cases customers do sucha good job of defending the brand they support that the negative comment turns into a large viral visibility campaign for the brand.

  18. sounds like a plan! 🙂 good stuff!

  19. Excellent post, Basil! I agree with each of these. The point about exercising your listening skills is particularly important — some customers just need to feel that you do care about them, many provide actionable suggestions and feedback that you can’t get anywhere else.

    • Yup, most peope that are upset and lashing out just want to be heard or noticed, and in many cases its a great example for future clients that if something does go wrong you’ll be there for them.

  20. …and if you do play customer don;t just blame your staff for any problems, the buck stops with you.

    • Emily, thats is the best point! I really think people make this mistake to often, including myself! We need to think about how we can change to facilitate better results from those we supervise or employe.

  21. Thank you for presenting this. Some of the points you discuss I already perform, but others I had not thought of.

  22. You know what? I’ve tried to explain this to my previous small business owners and they just didn’t get it! This is makes so much sense that if I owned my own business I’d feel stupid:)

    Sharon from EA

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