More and more B2B organizations utilize real-time engagement to interact with prospects and customers because it's quickly become a need for any business.   

The mind of the average professional is constantly stimulated by different forms of content, whether it’s emails, social media, direct messages, videos, articles and more. At the same time, they balance multiple projects that all have strict deadlines. The result is a time poor society that doesn’t have the patience to wait for a response from your organization or a person, no matter the issue or inquiry. This is why real-time engagement is so powerful and important. 

Any opportunity to engage with customers or prospects needs to be recognized quickly and acted upon. To properly execute real-time engagement across your organization, you need to be prepared and flexible. This means you can’t just respond to someone quickly without any valuable information. The quality of your response can’t be hindered.

Your employees need to respond quickly and consistently using their industry insights to engage with valuable information. AI and automation can help you do this, however, the big drawback against these technologies is it takes away the personalization of interacting with a real person they can relate to.

Think of it the same way as when you call a business on the phone. Would you rather an automated system answers your call? Or do you want to speak to an actual person? Personalization is incredibly important for any conversation, including digital interactions.  .

People expect faster, quality response times on all channels of communication. Here’s how some of those channels look today, and what you can do to maximize quality response times for better real-time engagement.

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Live Chat

In order to appease the growing demand for real-time engagement, more and more businesses have implemented live chat on their websites. Website visitors  like live chat because they get answers in real-time, rather than automated responses or browsing through an FAQ section.

Live chat has worked great for B2C organizations in terms of customer service, but it’s really taking off among B2B companies as well around engaging prospective clients. Many organizations are seeing massive success by prompting engagement with proactive chat windows that pop up with a real person offering to answer questions about the content on the page.

This can be and especially effective way to engage prospects who are early on in their buyer journey and not ready to fill out a form or reach out directly. They prefer live chat because they can still engage with a representative of your company without any commitment to giving away personal information.

According to Forrester Research, 44% of online consumers say that businesses offering live chat as part of a buyer’s journey is one of the most important features a website can have. Additionally, 63% of customers say they’re more likely to return to a website that offers live chat.  

AI and automation can help with live chats to respond to common questions, especially during off hours, but it can take away from personalization. It’s better to have an actual representative on the other end who can have a more personal conversation and answer uncommon questions.

Email

Gone are the days of responding to an email within 48 hours. Now that window is the same business day. Connecting with a business over email is just one of many things professionals are working on. They’ll send an email to connect with you, but if they don’t want to spend a second wondering when you’ll respond or sending a follow up email.  If they don’t hear back from you fast enough, they’ll look into one of your competitors.

Actual real-time engagement over email is difficult, but quality responses in a timely manner are still needed. It’s understandable that you might not respond to someone over email instantly, especially since email inquiries and questions are typically a little more complicated than those on live chat, but you should still aim to touchback with someone over email in the same day.

Social Media

Real-time engagement over social media is important for any business but it’s also a challenge for many of them.

In fact, 51% of brands say real-time social media engagement is their biggest challenge, according Social Media Today. Many people expect social media accounts to respond within an hour, but that can be difficult.

If you’re a small business, you might not have a dedicated full-time social media specialist on staff to reply to all messages at all hours. If you’re a large business, you definitely should have multiple social media specialists on staff, but they may receive too many inquiries on social media at times to respond right away.

The other problem is that the only representation some companies have on social media are their brand accounts. Engaging with a brand account is not the same as having a back-and-forth with someone who works for a company. It’s just not as personal. Studies show that having people represent your company on social media draws much higher rates of engagement, which is why a growing number of businesses are involving their employees.

This is where employee advocacy comes in. If your company has a well running employee advocacy program, it will have many of your employees on social media building up their own personal brands and creating opportunities for new touchpoints with prospects and customers.. Employees sharing content and performing social actions such as liking and commenting can act in the same way that a proactive chat box does on your website. They can prompt a light social interaction with someone who may not be ready to engage with your brand but will do so with a person like themselves.

To be clear, employee advocacy does not replace customer support, public relations or any other department in your organization, but it does empower them. Having employees represent your company on social media on their personal accounts helps offer a more personal touch to customers, prospects and anyone else trying to interact digitally with your organization.

Real-time engagement is a requirement amongst your buyers, and the demand for it will continue to grow. Addressing these needs from your customers will only help build up your brand’s reputation, retain customers and convert prospects.

Empowering Employees to Become Your Greatest Ambassadors