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The 3 defining C’s in the future of customer engagement

The way customers discover, browse and purchase has changed irrevocably over the past decade. Yet a few fundamentals hold true – at the heart of the customer journey is human, one-to-one interaction which businesses need to provide at scale.

The way businesses do this will vary, but ultimately comes down to instilling confidence, building connection and enabling convenience – the three Cs. 

Today, customers hold power, literally, in the palm of their hands. Nine in ten (89 percent) Australians own a smartphone, and a quarter (25 percent) of all purchases in Australia are made on a mobile phone (the percentage is higher for younger demographics: 76 percent of 18-24 year olds, and 78 percent of 25-34 year olds make purchases using their mobile phone).

Social media has become a core driver of business value; but to unlock that value, brands must prescribe to the three Cs of customer engagement.


The Edelman Trust Barometer for 2019 shows that the public is looking to business for leadership on big social issues: 76 percent of survey respondents said CEOs should take the lead on change, rather than waiting on governments to impose it. Issues like equal pay, discrimination, and the environment were among those areas that people thought CEOs could create positive change in.

Social media can be one way a company connects and builds confidence and trust with their customers. Staying neutral is no longer an option – consumers want businesses to reflect their values. A great recent example is Australian software company, Atlassian who articulated their support for the environment by encouraging their staff to participate in global climate strikes.

Atlassian wanted their employees to have a voice on the issue, and an opportunity to be heard, so they gave their teams the day off to be with their kids in the strike. But they didn’t stop there. Atlassian also encouraged other Australian businesses to follow their example, and provided all of their employee communications on their website as templates.

By building a culture where trust flows both ways, and living your brand values, you can reignite confidence in your brand.


It’s no secret that humans crave connection. But we are selective about how these connections take place. We seek deeper, more meaningful interactions; a recent survey shows that the majority of people (63 percent) want to connect through private messaging apps, perhaps as society becomes more conscious of data collection and sharing.

This doesn’t mean brands can’t build significant connections with customers. Messaging is the door, rather than the destination. In the same study, nearly half (45 percent) of people shared links to products, demonstrating that something doesn’t have to ‘go viral’ to be popular.

To truly build a connection with a customer, brands would do well to focus on emotion. Forrester research reveals that more important than efficiency or ease, emotion is the number one thing that builds loyalty. If businesses are able to make customers feel confident, valued, respected, understood, grateful, valued or happy, they are more likely to increase revenue and even be forgiven for a hiccup.


Building an emotional connection with customers is not a get-out-of-jail-free card, brands still have to do the work in terms of customer experience. Consumers are always going to prefer convenience, and will appreciate a business that respects their time.

The CMO Council found that 84 percent of customers hate having to re-introduce themselves to a brand – seamless, unified interactions are key to customer approval. Social can help with this by compressing the customer journey from days into hours, and the customer never has to leave the platform to make a purchase. Social media giants like We Chat and Facebook already have in-app payments enabled.

The algorithms powering our interactions online may change, but the three C’s of customer engagement remain the same. I believe they will be as true in fifty years as they are today.

Social has broadened the consumer audience exponentially, but brands would do well to remember that customers still want one-on-one interactions and to connect emotionally. We need to think beyond vanity metrics, such as likes and follows, and leverage the real opportunity. Social allows brands to build this connection through showcasing values and emotions, as well as providing the seamless customer journey people are seeking in their time-poor lives.

The time is now to implement the 3 C’s of customer engagement; ensuring your organisation is on the front foot of a continually evolving consumer landscape.

Heather Cook is the General Manager (APAC) at Hootsuite.

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Loren Webb

Loren Webb

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