Some big questions to ask and answer as 2014 begins.
In most organizations there is often a tension between roles and responsibilities; generally speaking they tend to work themselves out in the day to day operation of the business. There are, however, some aspects of every business that need to be defined very clearly. Customer engagement has often been seen as everyones responsibility to look after customer interests; customer service handle the customers; the front-line staff deal with customers, we look after the backroom. But this aspect of any business cannot remain someone elses job if there is to be true customer engagement that leads to building strong long term customer relationships.
Korn/Ferry Internationals Marketing Center of Expertise surveyed 124 CMOs and marketing leaders from the Korn/Ferry database of top U.S. companies (click here to view the survey report).
Whats keeping marketing executives up at a night? The survey revealed that customer engagement is driving restless nights for the majority of marketing executives. Specifically within the larger category of customer engagement, the focus is on creating sustainable and engaging customer relationships, followed by customer experience, dealing with budgetary issues, staying ahead of and taking advantage of digital opportunities, and acquiring the proper talent to meet new digital demands.
It noted that creating sustainable and engaging customer relationship ranked highest in terms of the responses as a real issue for executives. So what are the keys to delivering a customer engagement that not only enhances relationships but actually grows the business?
Firstly what it is not:
- Follow up calls and letters
- Great coffee and pleasing surroundings
- Correcting mistakes timeously, etc.
All of the above are worthy but the real prize is communication:
- Knowing how to communicate with customers
- Understanding how they make decisions
- Uncovering their propensity for risk or not
- Being able to understand the communication style of those who interact with customers and ensure they are the right fit for those customers they do business with
Enhanced customer relationships cannot remain the sole responsibility of Marketing. It belongs to the front line staff who engages with customers, thats where the prize lies. The definition of communication is (from Latin commnicre, meaning “to share”) the activity of conveying information through the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, visuals, signals, writing, or behavior. It is the meaningful exchange of information between two or more living creatures.
The Marketing Pulse Survey goes on to say:
Marketing cannot operate as a silo and must partner across the organization with many functions: sales, IT, finance, and others to carry out their strategy. While Marketing must enlist other groups and collaborate to succeed, the survey shows that the ultimate responsibility for driving customer experience and engagement falls squarely within the purview of the marketing function.
I dont disagree with this observation ? someone has to oversee the important responsibility of customer experience and engagement ? but the issue is what do they oversee?
The only long term solution to engage customers is to know how to communicate with them in a way that will retain them, build a relationship, and ensure they act as an ambassador for your business by referring you.
Doing this may ensure executives sleep at night.