The secret to customer engagement

To engage is “to occupy, attract, or involve someone’s interest or attention.”

First of all, I apologise for the cliché of starting a blog post with a definition. But in this case I wanted to set a level from which to begin my post; to define precisely what engagement means. In preparing a lunch & learn for our team on the idea of engaging our clients, I read a lot of informative and interesting blog posts by some leading minds. And one thing became very apparent:

Engagement seems to be defined by the number of digital channels you are able to reach the same person with.

The premise fails on a very basic level: engagement is not an impersonal thing. I get emails & mailings from a number of major retailers. I see their ads in magazines and commercials on TV. Rarely do they spur me to action. Last night, a major clothing chain offered me 41% off my entire purchase if I shopped before midnight. I know I could use some summer shirts, but instead I shut off my computer. Going to the store and interacting with the helpful staff (at least in the store close to me) more than makes up for the savings I might have had to peruse an online.

In digital communication and marketing, having your message reach consumers is vital to closing the sale. But the impersonal clutter of emails, banner ads, Twitter feeds, and Facebook posts may not be doing the trick. Meeting your prospective clients and customers face to face and interacting with them, reacting to their questions and concerns, and reassuring them of your brand’s value will go a thousand times further than the most comprehensive multi-channel campaign.

But allow me to step back. There’s nothing wrong with a strategic multi-channel marketing plan. In fact, I encourage it. But if your MCM does not include that physical, personal element, you’re missing out.

Most of the MCM strategies I’ve evaluated over the years include all kinds of means of communication. But they have all the charm of a voice-controlled automated service and the personal touch of an ATM that greets you by name once you put your card in.

Maybe 20 years ago, this sort of thing fooled people. Our customers are smarter than that today and want more (just imagine the surprise you feel when an actual human answers the phone).

It seems basic, because it is. I suggest you start setting up meetings with prospective and existing clients today and ask them why they would buy something – anything. You might be surprised by the results you get.

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