A Look At Customer Engagement

By on March 1, 2012
By Guest Writer Mark F Herbert
Some of my latest reading on engagement has continued to intrigue me on this topic. Marketing professionals have been talking about “engagement” at the customer level for some time now, but I have recently read a couple of pieces that explore it in a new way.  A Peppers and Rogers Group article discusses it in a way that feels more real to me- an integrated model that says that you will only really achieve true engagement when you build engagement with your customers on a solid foundation of engagement with your employees.

Intuitively that makes sense to me. If our employees are the cornerstone of our “brand” they must be as passionate about the brand as your Marketing folks or the agency. The brand must be embedded into the culture. When they talk about the two newer levels; best practices and products, and pride of association they include the internal “stakeholder”, the employee, as well.

They also talk about the foundation for engagement- the foundation is trust.How interesting? With all of the new technology and processes it still comes back to trust, which means relationships as the key.

As you know, we are deeply committed to this concept of engagement at the employee level- we call it moving from Compliance to Commitment™.  The other interesting reading I have done talks about two kinds of engagement as it relates to customers- emotional engagement and behavioral engagement.

Emotional Customer Engagement

At its most simplistic, emotional engagement is when people are drawn to you. They remember your commercials, they can remember your mission statement or brand position.

Behavioral Customer Engagement

Behavioral engagement is a little bit more real. Do they buy your products and services? They not only know your mission statement they buy your products and services. Do employees “live” the brand or just wear your logo wear?

In a reverse kind of a way this reminds me of WalMart. Other than the happy people on their commercials I don’t meet too many people who admit that they actually shop there. They are the retailer everyone loves to bash. Small towns fight court battles to keep them out of their boundaries. Yet, somehow they manage to remain the largest retailer in the world. Is this an example of behavioral engagement- I wonder?

In the employee context we take attitude surveys, measure turnover, hold picnics, and measure “morale”. Are we measuring emotional or behavioral engagement on the part of our employees?

The take aways I have from my reading are simple:

  • You will not have true engagement with your customers without engaging your employees
  • You will never have true engagement with your employees without building and nurturing a foundation of trust.
  • They have yet to invent a technology that builds trust. You have to do it the old fashioned way, person to person, one at a time.

My article on the business case clearly demonstrates the “numbers” for an engaged workforce and the financial competitive advantages that highly engaged versus non-highly organizations enjoy. In the final analysis then I would caution organizations to check their “foundation” before they invest in technology or process to improve financial performance.After all these years it still comes down to trust.

Mark F Herbert

New Paradigms LLC



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