New Theory for Customer Engagement and Interaction
The success of a business enterprise depends on how well the company has established its customer relationships. Customer engagement is a fundamental strategy of promoting business success through fostering a positive working relationship by facilitating an environment that allows customers to connect with each other, the company or its leading brand. Advancement of technology, especially social media has created a platform for a revamp of traditional marketing strategies. As such, customer engagement through e-commerce has increased in the recent past due to increased familiarity of social media (Nelson-Field & Taylor, 2012). The shift to customer engagement through e-commerce in platforms like social media is prompted by its ability to allow for sharing of opinions. As a result, the customers engaged with the company’s brands through extensive active participation. In addition, the interactive nature of social media establishes a practical relationship between websites and the customers through the online portal navigation that provides answers to any question asked by the website user.
Customer engagements can be done at consumer or company levels. The regulations of customer engagement through the e-commerce portals have necessitated conventional marketing concept because it requires a two party online conversation. This is assured through the new media that has made it possible for a single customer’s interaction with each other and back to the company’s website (Deighton & Kornfeld, 2009). Traditional marketing strategies have failed to offer long-term customer satisfaction due to inability to respond to the customers demand in time without any generalization. Kumar et al., (2010) found out that customer engagement and interaction is the ideal preposition for ensuring deep and long-term customer and brand relationships. Although, traditional marketing strategies are still being used, about 54% of companies have shifted on embracing the social media as a medium of engaging customers (Bowden, 2009).
Another important platform for customer engagement and interaction is achieved through retail websites. It serves to provide the information required by the customer through navigation in the website by clicking on the appropriate link. They also allow for both interaction and sharing of experiences that can be used to improve the product brand. Therefore, the advancement of customer-level e-commerce organization has enabled business enterprises explore individual customer undertakings, approach such issues proactively, provide modified strategies and administer single customer’s activities. The new technology is aimed at shifting from a general community consideration to a broader individual customer focus. However, this is needed to comprehend a proper analysis of information systems management so that the extent in which alterations to the traditional marketing strategies can be incorporated through e-commerce. This paper will devise a new theory for customer engagement and interactions based on internet-based selling, sales management and consumer. This will be achieved through first developing a theoretical framework that will provide a literature analysis of the drivers of customer engagement, and then devise a model that will be used for e-business environment and practices, customer engagement, interaction, and internet based selling approaches.
This section will present different pieces of literature about consumer engagement so that a link between its components can be understood. As such, the literature review will point out on the drivers of customer engagement and how it can be incorporated in an e-commerce business portal.
An effective mechanism for customer engagement should be able to promote proactiveness of the customer towards the e-business portal. According to Kumar et al., (2010) the components of an online customer engagement include; “involvement, interaction, intimacy and influence “(300). An online shopping presents a platform for comprehensive conversation between the retailer and consumer. As the conversation continues, a relationship is built and the inquisitive nature of customers provides a basis to obtain a lot of information through the website. Individual customer involvement demonstrates the level of motivation towards the e-commerce conversation. It is central in marketing communication because it gives the urge to collect more information from the online media.
Social media and other forms of online-business marketing portals provide a question feedback mechanism through internet navigating. As such, this gives the customers a sense of being appreciated and understood by the company. Here, intimacy is stimulated if the website is able to engage and provide answers for any question inquired by the user. This is consistent with the ideology of trust in marketing communication, but it differs with intimacy in the sense that it depends on competence and reliability as opposed to the marketers’ integrity (Bowden, 2009). The most important of intimacy as a component of online marketing is that it provides a sense that the company had significant information to offer to the customer (Bowden, 2009).
Interaction is another important component because a change in time can necessitate the customer to inquire for more details. As such, the interaction will offer this opportunity to learn more about the brand or the company through registering for online newsletters. Additionally, they present a platform for the users to gain control and decide on which kind of communication they require from the website (Ariely, 2000). The interaction is effective because it offers an opportunity to obtain an immediate response through the online involvement. As a result, users tend to develop a positive attitude about the website leading to a consistent and extensive inquiry of information from the website (Richard and Chandra, 2005). The inquisitive nature of customers on the website provides a continuous flow of information.
Proactiveness is the tendency of the user to revisit the website at another time. Conversations through online means present a discrete relationship and developing intentions for future conversations is ideal. Kumar et al., (2010) has claimed that the intention in interlinked to behavioral response when the users interact with the company through its website.Influence is demonstrated through the word of mouth and how well the customer is loyal to the brand. Therefore, the information obtained from the website is vital to influence the customer perception about the brand and intention to revisit the website. It is important for marketers to address the customer responses because it is at the center stage of achieving these components of customer engagement.
Drivers of customer engagement
Customer engagement is a function of the experience an individual obtains from navigating to an online website. Once the customer is through with the navigation, he develops perceptions about he or she has learned from the site. An online website does not show all information about a particular subject, but the hidden hyperlinks provide a cause for further exploration. According to Deighton & Kornfeld (2009) most website users, prefer highly ranked websites for exploration. This is consistent with the study by Singh, Dalal, and Spears (2005) which claims that exploration is influential in altering attitude and behavioral intentions. The new theory of customer engagement should focus on making the website to be ranked highly exponentially so that the customers develop intentions to visit more pages and motivated about the information gather through the website.
Another key motivator of customer engagement on an e-business platform should focus to provide comfort and understandability (Marie-O, R & Chandra, 2005). This is an important mover because once the users feel comfortable; they will tend to make sense of what is being propagated in the website thus increasing familiarity. Here, such users are able to obtain sufficient information about what they want from the website, which stimulates the sense of intimacy within the customer. The navigation experience is fundamental because it leads to creating an emotional response. On the other hand, sharing of information obtained from the website develops a sense of trust and this can be made ever stronger through creating a site that has quality information.
E-Business Environment and Practices
E-business is the systematic use of the internet technology to undertake business activities. Over the recent past, internet technology has continued to grow at a fast rate as most business entrepreneurs have embraced the technology. Therefore, the e-business environment is positive throughout the world because many stakeholders have shifted to using what technology has provided in doing business. However, there are variations of the e-business environment with some countries having a higher development rate than others. On the other hand, it is uniform in all countries across the world that people are adopting e-business enmasse because it is no longer an alternative, but a necessity to survive global competition (Deighton & Kornfeld, 2009). With continuous infrastructure development, third world countries are going to improve their e-business level and the future is bright.
Various business practices are being carried out through e-business portals. These include; e-banking, e-retailing and e-publishing (Deighton & Kornfeld, 2009).E-banking has forced the business world to shift from the conventional methods of payment to electronic modes. As a result, globalization has taken center stage because it has become faster and effective to make payments for goods sold far away from the company’s premise. E-tailing provides a platform in which the company can make sales through its websites. Here, the gods sold are clearly indicated on the website with their respective particulars. While visiting the website, the customer is able to order for the goods he wishes to purchase and this is delivered on request. This has extended the market for products and also reduced the cost of undertaking promotional activities. Lastly, online publishing is a systematic combination of the computer applications and software to generate internet based documents that are vital for the company. For example, newsletters and brochures give detailed information about a company to its customers (Kumar et al., 2010). This has improved access to vital information and progress of an organization.
Customer Engagement and Interaction
The global business competition has made it necessary for players in the international and local markets to devise ways in which their products can be advertised. Traditional marketing strategies have for a long-time dwelled on face-to-face communication to provide customer satisfaction (Marie-O, R & Chandra, 2005). However, this has become difficult in the current situation where internationalization and globalization have become the survival strategy. Depending on traditional marketing is ineffective in the present world because the geographical distance would require a lot of resources to carry out a promotion. Customer engagement is a recent focus that has seen a most business entrepreneurs shift to e- business as a means of engaging their customers about their activities. Therefore, customer engagements present the interaction of the retailer and his customers through the internet.
Involving customers in the product brands and services offered by the company is an ideal strategy that will provide a long-term relationship. Social media is a platform that customer engagement can be achieved because it offers the users an opportunity to explore the information and comment about the same. As such, customer engagement heavily depends on the involvement of the customer in the retailer-customer relationship (Nelson-Field & Taylor, 2012). In its deeper understanding, involvement refers to the extent in which an individual concern about a certain brand or issues is aroused through focusing on the importance and interest in a certain thing. It is important to establish an emotional relationship between the retailer and the customer so that customer engagement is clearly outlined.
A customer can only become engaged in a cretin online activity if that undertaking provides satisfaction. As such, it is important to maintain interactions so the customer engagement is fostered to ensure comfortability and understanding. In a website-based context, the information obtained from the portal and the ease of navigation is vital for fostering interaction. Here, the website should be designed in such a way that it will provide answers to any question that will be explored by the user. Once the answers are provided, the users become satisfied and tend to trust and engage the website further. A continued website experience will stimulate a sense of trust and this will lead to customer loyalty and commitment about the brand.
Internet Based Selling Approaches
Internet based selling approaches should be strategically implemented in order for the company to achieve the full potential of the internet. It is important to underline important approaches that will facilitate preparation, effective communication and commitment to the customers (Nelson-Field & Taylor, 2012). The selling approaches should start with a high level of executive participation. This is important because implementing a selling approach will affect all areas of the company. Therefore, starting with an executive participation will help to coordinate all aspects of the product before it is advertised. In addition, getting a commitment by all areas of the company will ensure that the strategy is implemented collectively in terms of packaging, pricing and promotional activities. Secondly, it is vital for the approach to include all sales channels to remove any chances of competing with the selling strategy.
Thirdly, it is important for the retailer to simplify the user experience that will provide an easy navigation and detailed access of information. A complex user experience will impede website-customer interaction and this will reduce intentions to revisit the site, commitment and trust about the respective website (Marie-O, R & Chandra, 2005). Another approach to achieve the best internet based selling is through empowering the customers to interact in their favorite ways. The internet-based system should not restrain the user accessing any information of their choices because this can reduce customer loyalty and trust. As such, the information about the selling process should be comprehensive and clear for any new customer experience. Also, it is important for the approach to use an existing e-business technology because it will be easy to make through some platforms. Additionally, an existing e-commerce is ranked more highly than a new technology and research has shown that customers have high intentions to interact and explore such websites. Hence, as much as they explore the site they gather a lot of information that motivates them more about the product brand in the website.
Developing comprehensive strategies to incline the e-business for success is a vital approach that should be considered alongside the technology (Kumar et al., 2010). Here, the internet based selling provides a wider market and task for the retailer and it is important to ensure that strategies are in place to manage the extra requirements. This will enable the business to benefit from the full potential of the technology through completely harnessing all the opportunities and benefits. Lastly, kit is worthy choosing the best business partners to team up with them where necessary to explore a wider geographical region. The compatibility of internet based selling strategies and functionality may differ and there is need to choose appropriate partners. Suitable partners will help implement the selling strategies without impeding other functionalities of the company or incurring high costs.
Retailer-interaction is very important for advancing the marketing strategy for any company. Traditional marketing strategies have for a long-term focused on general community interactions. This is not comprehensive because it does not allow effective communication between the company and the customer because all individuals are not given the chance to give their responses. Contrary, the internet technology has provided an avenue for people to share experiences and interact through online means. Due to the increased prospect of e-business across the world, a new theory for customer engagement should focus on promoting the customer interaction. Based on the literature review obtained about customer engagement, I propose various recommendations.
Firstly, the customer engagement strategies should be performed through the social media. This is because it will meet many people from a varied cultural background and the responses obtained are very ideal for improving the product. Secondly, the customer engagement and interaction should ensure that it provides comfort and understanding. Here, the strategy would be to use a simple, but high ranked internet based website. This is vital to facilitate access to information that motivates the users to inquire about the website and intend to visit again. Lastly, based on non conclusive evidence obtained in literature review, there is need to explore the significance of customer engagement on the performance of the business. This is due to the fact that existing research has not clearly indicated any link between the two and it will be a good topic for research in the future.
Customer engagement and interaction is the best strategy for promoting brand loyalty and trust. Through interactions the customer is able to get immediate response through navigating through the website. As such, this leads to satisfaction and access to important information about the brand. However, the retail websites and ideal for these services, but using the social media is better because it provides a pool of customers that interact together. Therefore, my personal evaluation is for the customer based engagement and interaction to be undertaken through a combination of the retail websites and social media. Here, the company will achieve its strategy of promoting customer brand loyalty.
In conclusion, customer engagement is a fundamental strategy of promoting business success through fostering a positive working relationship by facilitating an environment that allows customers to connect with each other, the company or its leading brand. This is the future of business enterprises because many countries in the world are adopting the phenomenon ant a very high speed. There are various platforms for undertaking customer engagements like retail websites and social media. However, a combination of the two platforms is ideal because it promotes effectiveness and reliability. Therefore, the advancement of customer-level e-commerce organization has enabled business enterprises explore individual customer undertakings, approach such issues proactively, provide modified strategies and administer single customer’s activities. This can be made possible through considering the movers of customer engagement. In this regard, it is important to understand the strategies and approaches they will increase customer engagement in using the online website portal.
The ideal strategies include creating a customer; experience, relationship, location, easy website navigation and monetizing of the experience. It is also important to consider the best approaches for selling based strategies to ensure that the selling strategies are not intertwined with the functionality strategies. Although the business significance of customer engagements and interaction is still unexploited, it is ideal in promoting customer loyalty and trust of the brand. Additionally, a combination of retail websites and social media sites is vital to achieve an extended geography and recommendation responses. Thus, a new theory of customer engagement and interaction should focus on developing a combination of retail websites and social media to realize its full potential.
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