Back in October, I had the pleasure of interviewing Get Satisfaction’s CEO, Wendy Lea, for my blog (True customer engagement is not based on click throughs or contests), where we talk a lot about the changing nature of business, social technologies, customer engagement, and what it means nowadays to build sustainable and loyal relationships with your customers.
Following on from our discussion, Wendy asked me to write a guest post to explore a bit more about what engagement is (from my perspective), what it should and could be and how it will evolve in the future.
Now, originally I was going to start with the following situation:
Imagine that you’re a business and you’ve got a growing number of friends, connections, fans, followers, customer and subscriber email addresses, etc, etc. You also do a lot of digital and social media networking and marketing but the results are not what you hoped for and you are now thinking…..Now what?
I had then planned to a share a few thoughts, tips, and strategies from current practice, our history, and our experience regarding what we should be doing as businesses to help us build better relationships with our customers and advocates.
I want to do that. I really do. But, before we can do that, I think we have to first review where we are and then go back to basics, the basics of relationships, if we are to get the most out of our engagement efforts.
What I mean is….when we think about more broadly about relationships, relationships of all types and in all parts of our lives, the following words probably come to mind:
- Belief in one another
- etc, etc
What do you think? What other words would you add?
Now, not all of our relationships will have all of these elements, but I think it is useful to think about and be honest about the sort of relationships that we would like to build and the sort of relationships that we currently have. We need to conduct a relationship audit.
We then have to take responsibility and make a plan for building those relationships. Only if we do that will we have a chance to achieve the level of engagement that we desire with our customers and our people (Note: it is your people that have the relationships with your customers, not your brand. It’s always an individual thing).
However, there is a health warning attached to this that was best explained in another interview that I conducted for my blog. That interview (What makes first direct so successful) was with Mark Mullen, CEO of firstdirect, an online and telephone only bank in the UK that is feted for it’s level of customer service and the loyalty and advocacy of it’s customers. In our interview Mark and I discussed how they have developed such healthy levels of engagement and he said:
“We must understand the limits of interest of our customers.”
It’s all very well doing blue-sky thinking about the sort of levels of engagement with your customers that you would like to achieve. But, if your customers are not interested, then all of your efforts will be in vain.
So, if you want to build your levels of engagement with your customers, here’s what I would advise you to do:
1.1. Conduct an honest audit of the relationships that you have with your customers and your people;
1.2. Plan out what sort of relationships you would like to have;
1.3. Give this a reality check against the interests of your customers;
1.4. Review your plan based on your reality check;
1.5. Design your marketing, engagement, community and service efforts with your relationship goals in mind; and
1.6. Review on a regular basis as relationships are dynamic things and will change over time.
What do you think? I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts and comments.
About the author:
Adrian Swinscoe is a consultant, speaker (sometimes) and blogger on business and team performance and is passionate about helping companies deliver great service to their customers. You can check out his marketing and customer engagement blog and connect with him on Twitter @adrianswinscoe.
*Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto.com