Editor’s note: The Rules of Engagement is a series of five articles written by Paul Butcher, director of research at Populus, a Treasure Valley research firm. Populus, in conjunction with the Idaho Business Review and Price Associates, is in its fifth year of conducting the Best Places to Work in Idaho program. Best Places to Work in Idaho is an annual, free and confidential employee survey-based competition open to any Idaho business with 20 or more workers. Organizations that score well on the surveys are eligible to be named one of the top employers in the state. Winners will be featured in a special publication produced by the Idaho Business Review and will be recognized at a special awards ceremony in April 2012. For more information and to register for free, go to www.bestplacestoworkinidaho.com by Jan. 31, 2012.
This is the third in a series of five articles developed by an engagement practitioner which outlines a step-by-step approach to achieving higher levels of customer engagement.
In the first article I explained why customer engagement matters: Rule #1, customer engagement = $. In the second article I explained where an organization needs to start: Rule #2, engaged customers start with engaged leaders.
This week I’ll explain the next step in the Rules of Engagement: Rule #3, engaged customers require engaging products.
Before I continue, let me explain what I mean by “product.” In the Rules of Engagement “product” refers to all touch points with your customers. In addition to the obvious, such as the widget your customer purchases from you, it also includes the communications, service, reputation and delivery that your customer experiences. Essentially it’s everything your organization has and does that customers see, hear, touch, taste and smell from which they form an impression and an opinion of your brand.
On the surface this rule seems pretty obvious since your product is the primary reason for the existence of your organization. However, there are a large number of organizations that don’t have processes in place to monitor and manage the level of engagement their customers have with their product.
In a study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, 75 percent of executives surveyed said that increased customer engagement will lead to increased profits. In the same study, 46 percent of respondents said that they do not measure customer engagement in any formal way.
Why the disconnect? In the study cited above, 47 percent of respondents indicated that the difficulty of measuring customer engagement is the biggest barrier to achieving greater levels of engagement.
In order for an organization to manage the level of engagement of their customers with their product they must implement a process to ensure that their product engages with their customers. This process must begin with an accurate, reliable and timely measurement system. After all, if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it.
Once a measurement system is in place, your customers will begin to help you identify product elements that are preventing engagement and conceive of innovations that will increase it.
Before you go off and begin lobbying for the implementation of a product engagement management process, you should have realistic expectations.
It is not realistic to expect that your organization can highly engage 100 percent of your customers. It is profoundly important to accept the fact that not all customers are created equal. Some customers, no matter what you do, will never be highly engaged with your product.
Every organization has, and always will have, some percent of highly engaged, moderately engaged, moderately disengaged, and highly disengaged customers. The goal is to manage your customer portfolio in such a way as to increase the percent of highly engaged and moderately engaged customers and decrease the percent of moderately disengaged and highly disengaged customers.
It is realistic to expect to increase the overall level of engagement of your customer portfolio if your organization is committed to effectively and efficiently managing the level of engagement your customers have with your product.
Finally, it is realistic to expect significant improvements in revenue and profits from an increased level of customer engagement.
I truly hope that these articles are helpful.
Don’t miss next week’s installment, which explains the fourth step in creating a more highly engaged customer portfolio.
Paul Butcher may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.