One of the almost infinite challenges facing businesses today is understanding the system of customer engagement and who is responsible for executing the process to support it. The digital age has disrupted everything and one of the most significant outcomes is that customer expectations regarding their experience and level of service has changed the ways companies need to react to customer engagement.
Here’s an example of a common customer engagement situation shared with me by a client who works in a high-tech industry:
“In our very competitive market, it takes an incredible investment in time and resources to identify a need, propose a solution, pilot the solution, win a bid, and implement a program for a 1-2-year cycle until the product goes global in scale or the program ends. Hopefully it goes global in scale and can generate profitable revenues for up to 20 years. Unfortunately for us, and many other companies like us, we’ve created our own problems in terms of how we engage with the customer. Today, we have sales people, technical engineers, design engineers, manufacturing, quality assurance, supply chain, manufacturing, distribution, and customer service. Each of them is its own function and behaves differently to the customer and in my opinion the collective of these different functions is negative and not positive which is basically tragic.”
When I explored this example further, there where are few key take-aways that I think are consistent patterns for many organizations in similar positions:
- Customer engagement is not strategic
- There is no defined customer engagement process
- The focus is usually not on the customer (it’s an internal process)
- Reward system have no customer engagement metrics
- Not all functions think customer engagement is their job
And so, the customer engagement conundrum in 2017 is complex but must start and stop with the final point from above as true and sustained success for all organizations will only occur if everyone in the organization thinks it’s their job.
In addition to setting and executing strategy through people, today’s leaders must also focus on creating a culture where customer engagement is embraced, measured, acknowledged, and is the subject of non-stop continuous improvement.
Based on our years of research and practical experiences working with more than 150 global companies, here are 3 quick tips to create a culture of engagement:
Provide all employees with the opportunity to understand the “system of business”
How can any organization expect their employees to embrace customer engagement if they have no context to how important it is in the system of business? By learning the system of business and building business acumen skills, employees will be able to understand the drivers of business performance and most importantly, how customers are the center of the business universe. They instantly recognize how important the right customers are at the same time they realize what organizations need to do to deliver the value proposition and keep customers engaged for the long term.
Teach your people how your company makes money
Too many employees have no clue how their own company makes money. Providing easy-to-access business acumen training solutions helps employees recognize the critical elements of the process that generates revenues and delivers profitability. By understanding how your company makes money – and the role that customers play in the process – employees will recognize the role they play and will have a different approach to customer engagement.
Illustrate how your unique customer experience differentiates against competitors
Your value proposition to customers is unique and customers choose you – as opposed to your competitors because they see something important to them. Your employees need to understand what customers see, want, and expect and then must make sure that they are engaging with customers to make sure the value proposition is being delivered consistently and meeting expectations.