Are you truly Engaging your Customers?

28-Apr-2011

When it comes to engaging with and retaining customers, you've got to show them you care.

People want to be loved. It's in our genetic make-up. Famously, love is supposed to mean never having to say you're sorry. But in reality, love simply comes down to being shown that you are appreciated. At work, we like to know that our efforts are felt to be worthwhile and that our contributions are valued. We want - need, even - for criticism to be constructive rather than destructive. In a relationship, we like to know that we are the centre of someone else's universe, that our thoughts matter, that we will never be taken for granted.

It's a two-way street, of course. It's all very well talking about love, but we need to show it, too. And that means going the extra mile. As relationships develop and the 'honeymoon period' ends, giving has to have real meaning behind it to prevent gestures from becoming - or from being perceived as becoming - token. It is not only beauty that is in the eye of the beholder. Love lies there, too.

It should be exactly the same in marketing. We make an effort to woo customers, but it's really once we've won them that the hard work needs to start. We need to show that those customers remain, on an individual level, foremost in our thoughts, minds and hearts. We need to show that our appreciation for them hasn't diminished, that we don't take them for granted. So when we give them something, we need to make sure that we give it wholeheartedly and that they know we have gone that extra mile for them. Because if we don't we will lose them forever.

It's the thought that counts

Clichés only become clichéd through overuse, which means there is a tendency to dismiss them and to overlook the wisdom often underpinning them. For marketers, it really is the thought that counts. A well-known, high-profile Australian performing arts company recently had an overseas season and decided to reward loyal subscribers by randomly selecting one of them to be flown over to watch the show. It was a great idea - a love-ly idea, you might say. BUT... When the elderly subscriber arrived in the foreign, non-English-speaking country, no transfers had been arranged for her to get to the (decidedly average) hotel, and she was also expected to find her own way from the hotel to the performance venue. So the message this loyal subscriber received was: 'You matter to us, but not that much'.

It's rather like buying your partner a bunch of flowers and then expecting her to go to the florists to pick them up. Sure, you care, but only up to a point! How do you think that display of 'love' would go down? The performing-arts customer wasn't expecting limousine transfers and champagne treatment, but she had been expecting the little things to be taken care of. It is the attention to detail that often makes a gesture worthwhile, because it shows that real thought has been given to someone's needs; it shows that the individual matters to the organisation, that the customer is a person and not just a name drawn from a hat. By failing to do that, the organisation has just lost itself a subscriber.

An even better-known, higher-profile Australian telecommunications company made the same mistake, coincidentally for the same event. It offered a randomly drawn family trip to the overseas show as an incentive to customers who signed up for the full communications (landline, mobile and Internet) package. Again, there were no transfers, nothing to show that the winners actually, genuinely mattered.

Total engagement is crucial

These examples show that attention to detail - as a means of demonstrating 'love' - is crucial when it comes to customer retention. It's not a matter of 'too much is never enough for some people', it's a matter of showing that you understand how important the 'little things' are to every individual on every level. And more importantly, it shows you understand the individual and that you really want to engage with them on a personal level. As we all know, engagement (in the pre-marital sense) is one of the ultimate - albeit increasingly old-fashioned - displays of love. It's no coincidence that engagement is also the cornerstone of relationship marketing.

Engaging with customers on a one-on-one level worked wonders for Barclays Bank (one of the UK's 'big four' banks). According to Brendan Horgan, Barclays commercial director, in 2003, the financial giant's business banking service (which targets firms with sales of between £1 million and £15 million a year) was losing 25 per cent of its customers a year. Within three years, Horgan had reduced that 'regrettable loss', as he put it, to just four per cent a year.

Horgan's strategy was simple: he hired an extra 150 business bank managers, all of whom underwent up to 100 hours of training a year to ensure they understood the issues their customers felt were important. As a result, the customers felt they were actually being listened to and actually being cared about - being loved, in other words. By addressing its customer needs, Barclays treated those customers as individuals and not simply contributors to the bank's bottom line.

Customer retention means market share and increased profits. 'Treat 'em mean to keep 'em keen' is another cliché, but this one also happens to be a fallacy. For relationships to survive and thrive, you have to show you care about the other party. That means giving them what they need to feel appreciated, not just what you think they may like (or what you think you can get away with). As we've seen, anything less than total commitment will backfire.

For social media strategy Sydney read our blog http://www.blog.tickyes.com Peter Applebaum is the Founder and Managing Director of Tick Yes.

Tick Yes is a social media marketing Agency based in Sydney, Australia that uses proven digital relationship marketing strategies to help clients improve brand awareness, increase market share and meet profit objectives.

For more information visit our website: http://blog.tickyes.com

Article Source: Ezine Articles

 

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