The essential key to customer engagement in 2017 is not to lose sight of your humanity and the humanity of your customers amid the sea of digital pixels.

1. Social Media

Obviously, right? Social media is The Conversation, capital “T,” capital “C,” that people are having with each other every day, on the record, in a brilliant, shareable format. Being good at social media is the same skill set as being good at conversation transferred to the digital platform.

The first rule of good conversation is to do it well you must be more interested in the other person and listening to what they have to say than you are about saying your part. Good conversation is also about flow and moving the conversation along to something deeper.

What are the conversations you’re hearing about your industry, marketplace, and product? What feeds the conversation, moves the conversation along, and reckons with what the conversation reckons with?

2. Email List

These days email can seem like a vestigial relic of the older World Wide Web. We were emailing before we had any idea what else was just around the corner in the online world. But maybe that’s why we’re so comfortable in our inboxes that email is still the highest converting channel there is for online sales.

Managing an email list properly can be a full-time job and a very productive one. It’s not just blasting out emails with your sales pitch (that’s called spam). It’s giving something 75 – 80 percent of the time, something that interests, entertains, informs, and helps your customers, while at the same time telling them about who you are and what you stand for.

3. Content Marketing

Content is still King in 2017, but also not really. There’s more content in 2017 than ever before, and not all of it is great. Maybe most of it isn’t. Content that is left on your business’s website as an afterthought, as a begrudgingly offered crumb of your leftover time will look exactly like what it is.

It won’t make any noise. It won’t get recommended by search engines through a high page ranking. It won’t get shared on social media. And it won’t get attention for your business. Which is lucky because what little attention it does get devalues your brand.

Great content is king. Deep content that shows your business is leaning far into the problems it exists to solve creates credibility and establishes authority. Generous content that does something for the reader makes your organization one that people want to work with.

4. Customer Service

This strategy isn’t about increasing customer engagement. It’s about responding to customer engagement. It’s one of the most important things your business does. The focus of customer service done well is your customer’s feelings.

It’s not about the facts of how they were treated, how long they waited, the price, or anything else a customer gives you feedback about— it’s about how your customer feels about it.

If your customer service strategy is to stonewall anyone who speaks up, it might save you some money, but it is a total failure. Customers engaged enough to reach out through your customer service channels usually aren’t looking to take advantage of you.

They are most often seeking validation for their feelings and for you to help them find a way to feel good about your brand again after an experience that made them feel bad.

5. Being Human

The 19th century giant of philosophy, Frederick Nietzsche said it best. Make sure your every interaction with your customers (and your vendors, and your co-workers, and your bosses) has this all too human generosity and kindness of spirit: “Among the small, but infinitely plentiful and therefore very potent things to which science must pay more attention than to the great, uncommon things, well-wishing must be reckoned; I mean those manifestations of friendly disposition in intercourse, that laughter of the eye, every hand pressure, every courtesy from which, in general, every human act gets its quality.

Every teacher, every functionary adds this element as a gratuity to whatever he does as a duty; it is the perpetual well spring of humanity, like the waves of light in which everything grows; thus, in the narrowest circles, within the family, life blooms and flowers only through this kind feeling.

The cheerfulness, friendliness, and kindness of a heart are unfailing sources of unegoistic impulse and have made far more for civilization than those other more noised manifestations of it that are styled sympathy, benevolence, and sacrifice.

But it is customary to depreciate these little tokens of kindly feeling, and, indeed, there is not much of the unegoistic in them. The sum of these little doses is very great, nevertheless; their combined strength is of the greatest of strengths.”

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