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Customer engagement

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Over the course of my career I’ve had the opportunity to get an inside look at hundreds of companies and organizations. And it never ceases to amaze me how many companies don’t have a focus on customer engagement. I know the numbers: 60% don’t have a strategy in place.  

The quickest way to get an understanding of the customer focus in an organization is to simply ask if they have a strategy on how to engage with their customers. Believe it or not, chances are, they don’t. Many larger firms are like dogs chasing its tail, spinning wildly in circles and snapping trying to catch what they think they want to catch. If they actually do get a bite, they will feel pain elsewhere in their organization.

Customer retention

Many companies have departmental approaches and internal rules of engagement. Without a customer engagement strategy that is shared throughout a company, they are leaving their customer retention up to chance. That’s right, 60% of companies don’t have a strategy in place and don’t know which customers they’ve lost until they see the numbers after the fact. This while there is a 2 to 1 ratio of companies that believe that customer retention as being more important than the acquisition of new customers (source: Convero).

Common sense would say this makes no sense whatsoever, but I believe it boils down to the assumption that we are engaging with our customers properly, that we all do a good job in providing good service. Unfortunately, the numbers as mentioned above do not support this. 

Behavioral types

In my opinion, the real reason behind this approach has to do with behavioral types, the extrovert, optimistic alfa’s among us have convinced us of their strengths, but many do so by being the loudest voices, not necessarily for their strategic planning skillset. This explains why a lot of companies treat customer service as a cost center as opposed to an extension to their marketing or sales departments. 

Farmers and hunters

Customer service teams are generally focused on fixing problems or issues, this is at the opposite end of the spectrum for a new sales person. For new business it’s all about the chase, the convincing, all things that are new and shiny are better. Look into most sales organizations, the ‘existing business’ sales people are often referred to as farmers, while the new sales people are the celebrated hunters.

Understanding

A strategy for Customer Engagement means we not only look at who is having contact with our customers, but how, through which channels and also the frequency of the contact. Most importantly is that we create an understanding within our organizations in which all involved understand not only what the objectives are, but also have a keen understanding of how far all involved need to go and why. 

Ongoing dialogue

We can talk numbers all day long, We can talk about solutions all day long. We can talk about needs, objectives and all kinds of things, all day long…but until we talk about and with our customers (not just prospects) on their level, with what their numbers, needs and objectives are, we will continue to appear as if we are that cute little dog that chases its tail.
Customer Engagement isn’t about chasing what’s already his, it’s an ongoing dialogue to create an understanding, creating a customer experience we can build upon.   

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