Category Archives: customer engagement

A Glimpse of Data from Orlando Engagement World Conference

EngagementWorldAs you may know,  Engagement World is a conference and expo taking place this week in Orlando, Florida.

The event is “dedicated to highlighting the world of Enterprise Engagement in business and its many strategies and tactics.”

During a few of today’s presentations some simple yet important messages were shared and reinforced:

  • More of the nation’s top organizations are documenting increases in financial performance as a result of increasing employee, partner and customer engagement.
  • Employee engagement begins at the recruiting step – a great case study was presented by Northwell Health (61,000 employees) outlining how they revamped their recruiting and on-boarding practices. To truly engage customers the workforce must be engaged first.
  • Among the key drivers of employee engagement:
    1. Clarity in roles and regular feedback
    2. Two-way communication with leadership
    3. Ability to impact the work environment
    4. Ongoing professional development and training
    5. Sense of connection with the organization’s culture and values

What Makes Your Organization Different?

custom_crayon_box_standout_16486What is the one thing your business or organization has that none of your competitors have?

Over the past five years we have asked a great many people in all types of organizations this simple question; and while the answers initially vary, they all ultimately agree that there is only one true and sustainable differentiator…

It isn’t a product or a unique feature of a product, or even a type of service, because these can be too easily emulated. So while a one-of-a-kind product or service might serve as a short-term differentiator, neither represents the best answer.

The simple answer is: YOU!

An organization’s one true and sustainable differentiator is the people within. Collectively the people make-up an enterprise’s personality; they represent the core values, and they represent not “what” an organization does but rather “how” it is done, which ultimately makes all the difference.

Given these realities, making enterprise engagement a cultural choice within your organization is the ideal way of achieving long-term success.

Customer Engagement?

engagement1Customer engagement has become a key objective for many companies and organizations.

The primary goal, according Jon Nace of Rosetta, a global marketing agency, is to not only satisfy clients, but to also “gain a commitment from clients to interact with your brand… make a transaction and, ultimately, to choose your brand repeatedly.

Yet data shows that many B2B companies offer a generic customer experience with few, if any, targeted follow-up actions.

The three recurring challenges to engaging customers are:

  1. Lack of corporate alignment, as departments operate in silos, which leads to an inconsistent user experience and to one department not knowing what customers have done or experienced.
  2. Marketing focus and budget is allocated more to advertising and promotion rather than direct or online customer engagement.
  3. Passive lead management, often involving automated responses rather than customized, value-
    added follow-up.

Is the Customer Always Right?

highroadThe phrase “The customer is always right” was originally coined in 1909 by Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of London’s Selfridge’s department store.

It is frequently used by businesses to define or clarify their approach to customer service, hoping, at varying times, to convince both consumers and employees of the high levels of service and satisfaction their customers experience.

But of course, no one is “always” right, and much has been written about why the perspective that “the customer is always right” is, in fact, “wrong.” In fact, a 2014 Huffington Post article lists what author Alexander Kjerulf considers the top five reasons that customers are not always right.

Similarly, Hal Rosenbluth, founder of Rosenbluth International, a corporate travel agency, wrote a book about their approach called “Put The Customer Second – Put your people first and watch’em kick butt.”

Rosenbluth argues that when you put the employees first, they put the customers first; that when you put employees first they will be happy at work, and employees who are happy at work give better customer service.

Regardless of your position on the matter, you might consider that the key words in the well-known phrase may not actually be the words “always right.”

Instead, the key word is “customer,” because when a customer is, in fact, wrong, they will most likely stop being a customer if they are proved to be wrong in a manner that they find offensive — in a manner that brings about loss of dignity or respect.

So maybe the better questions is, what does it mean to “take the high road” when interacting with customers or, to Mr. Rosenbluth’s point, colleagues?

As speaker David Brock once said, “Being right doesn’t mean you win!”

Sales Advice from Baseball Legend Ted Williams?

tedwilliamsAs you may know, Ted Williams was a star player for the Boston Red Sox from 1939 through 1960, except for the three years he spent in World War II… and one of his many nicknames was, “The Best Hitter that Ever Was!”

In fact, in 1941 he posted a .406 batting average, making him the last Major League  player to bat over .400 in a season.

So, you may be wondering how Mr. Williams might provide some solid advice for sales professionals…

Well, the story goes that one day a young newspaper reporter ran into Ted at a train station… as you can imagine, the youngster was quite impressed and found himself rambling on about what an “honor it was… meeting the best batter in baseball… and so on and so on…” And then he said to Ted Williams, “Gee Mr. Williams, you must be a great student of hitting.”

To which Ted replied, “No son, I’m a great student of pitching!”

Tying this into the sales process, as sales professionals we must understand both the selling process and the buying process; we must learn why people might be most likely to buy-in to our ideas and proposals, and then structure our presentations to match that thinking process.

Along those lines, in his book, “The Anatomy of Persuasion,” author Norbert Aubuchon shared his research on defining the buying or “buying-in” process. He identified the following five steps:

  1. NEEDS – a buyer has an unsatisfied need, either recognized or unrecognized
  2. RECOGNIZE – a buyer recognizes the need, and makes it a priority; the buyer is willing to act
  3. SEARCH – the buyer seeks information on how to satisfy the need
  4. EVALUATE – the buyer matches the information with requirements and rates the results
  5. DECIDE – positive ratings usually result in a buying decision; negative ratings result in continued search

Interestingly, these steps align nicely with the steps for selling a product or service, which are outlined in our previous post!

 

Growth Through Strategic Customer Service & Engagement

nl145quoteWhen asked, most people say they do their best to provide good customer service. However, methods can vary significantly and tend to be inconsistent.

To maximize the effectiveness of your team’s customer service and engagement effort, it’s best to develop and implement a measurable, strategic approach that leverages your organization’s unique benefits and that can become both consistent and cultural.

Creating a plan, setting goals, enhancing communication and monitoring results are the key elements of the process. Here are some specific ideas on how you might get started:

  1. The first step is to learn three key things about your customers what they like, what they don’t like and how they feel about your organization
  2. Next, identify your organization’s unique offerings from a products and services perspective (what you offer/do) as well as a cultural perspective (how you offer/do it). Note the alignment between these first two items, and then determine the things associated with your culture and unique offerings that your customers value the most the real benefits
  3. Develop a communication style that expresses these benefits in terms that are relevant to your customers (rather than to you and your staff)
  4. Define action steps that exemplify and reinforce your group’s culture; keep in mind, in most cases an organization’s most distinguishable assets are people
  5. Create and implement a system in which your organization consistently executes the action steps and communicates in the style noted above
  6. Monitor and measure results… continually discuss and refine the process regularly include this topic on staff meeting and sales meeting agendas

Growing a business or sales territory is not easy work, but it will become easier if we can engage, delight and retain our customers. Possibly Matthew Tashjian, a Senior VP at Merrill Lynch in Hartford, CT sums it up best, as he often says, “One way to make money is to not lose any!”

Read the full article…

The Engagement Surprise!

engagementroiOver the past several years much has been written about the emerging field of enterprise engagement, which is a framework for achieving goals through people in a measurable way.

Organizations that have embraced this approach have found it is not only possible to achieve almost any goal that involves people—customers, distribution partners, employees, suppliers, and even communities – but also, to the surprise of many, to realize a return-on-investment in the process!

As a good example, possibly you are familiar with The Engaged Company Stock Index (ECSI)?

Read the full article…

Selling Attitude!

hole_hand_thumbs_up_sm_nwm“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal. Nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” W.W. Ziege

Selling is a people business. People buy from people, and most often, from people that they like. But what makes one sales rep more likeable than the next? Surely all, or at least most sellers try to be likeable!

Attitude makes the difference.

A positive attitude is not only easily recognizable, but it’s catchy. Sellers who possess truly positive attitudes “assume the close.” They honestly expect the best from prospects, and they offer their personal best as well. They tend to react to things positively and, more importantly, tend to bring about positive return reactions.

Christine Harvey asks a pertinent question in her “Successful Selling” book. “What are the chances that your customer will be positive if you aren’t? The answer is zero.”

But it’s not easy to be truly positive! Especially when so much of selling tends to be negative.

Read the full article…

Team & Customer Engagement: The ROI?

engagementroiWould you like to increase sales revenue, customer loyalty, and referrals?

How about motivating your channel partners so that they place added focus on your organization?

Would you like to implement and sustain a culture of continuous improvement? Or possibly increase the team’s focus on quality or safety, enhance overall wellness, or help them to work more productively?

All of the above-listed objectives are among the reasons organizations have chosen to proactively focus on engaging people; and all of the above-listed objectives can generate a measureable return on investment!

In fact, research from the Enterprise Engagement Alliance indicates that organizations will get the best results when they systematically:

  •  Develop realistic, achievable, and measurable goals and objectives
  • Create a formal Engagement business plan outlining the desired outcomes, behaviors that lead to outcomes, key program components, roles and responsibilities, timeline, and return on investment.
  • Effectively assess the people and the playing field to identify opportunities and obstacles to success
  • Make sure people have the knowledge or skills needed to succeed
  • Implement an integrated communication plan
  • Foster an atmosphere of collaboration, innovation, and fun
  • Reward and recognize so that people feel supported in their efforts
  • Measure return on investment

Read more… | Comment…

The ROI of Engaging Employees?

engagement1It can be difficult to know the value of engaging employees as well as the impact higher-levels of workforce engagement has on customer relationships.

As a first step, you might find research from Aon Hewitt of interest, which indicates teams that had high levels of engagement had a 37% net promoter score (NPS) versus 10% NPS for teams with lower engagement.

In addition, Avatar Solutions’ recent research reaffirmed that engaged employees tend to enrich their organizations, have fewer absences, be more innovative and confident in expressing new ideas, and have higher levels of productivity.

We are attending an Enterprise Engagement conference in Denver this week and in upcoming posts we will be sharing additional data on the ROI of engaging colleagues and customers, as well as insights on how to do so!