Integrate Your Clients into the Process and Deliver on those Promises
The most obvious way to build positive customer engagement is for your products or services to deliver on your promises. After all, reaching a Vulcan mind-meld understanding of your customer’s needs doesn’t mean much if you don’t come through. Maybe you knocked it out of the park – but maybe not. How do you know?
There are well-known performance metrics you can track: volume of business, frequency of repeat orders, or the length of customer relationship. These measures provide an overview of how you’re doing with a particular customer or industry.
But, when it comes to building engagement it’s equally – if not more – important to ask for customer feedback. And you don’t have to wait for an actual transaction to engage your customers’ participation. Why not ask for their input as you’re developing new strategies? Focus groups, surveys – even client advisory councils – are powerful ways to build engagement and cultivate a loyal fan base. It’s just human nature that when we participate in someone else’s success, we become invested in the outcome. We enjoy being a part of others’ development, helping them through their struggles, and celebrating their ultimate triumph.
Most firms seem to get in their own way. They want to solve for solutions without getting the client intake first. Sometimes the best recipe is to just hand the client the mic and sit back and actively listen and take notes. Do NOT try to solve it in that meeting (even if you think you have the solution). First, go back over notes and highlight with them what you heard the most pressing issues were from the conversation. This will ensure you are solving for the most important things from the client perspective. Tell the client, we have identified several things we think we can fix, but you want to take the info they gave you, regroup with your team and talk about solutions and get back with them by a specified time.
Note: Do not forget your employees in this process either. Especially ones closest to the customers. They have valuable insight because they are talking with the clients everyday. They see ways to improve that can make immediate impact.
There is one pitfall to avoid here, though: Your customers are investing valuable time and energy with you – you don’t want them to feel their contribution was wasted. Once you ask for feedback, it is imperative that you act on it. Even if you do not do exactly what the feedback given was, you need to communicate that you heard them and let them know how you are addressing it. Outline the solution you are making and ask for more feedback on it before you roll it out.
One thing that makes reality shows so popular and compelling is the immediate – and often fierce – feedback meted out by the judges. We view contestants very differently based on how they receive that feedback. The heroes respectfully listen and are grateful for the input and try their best to incorporate the comments into their next performances, while the villains, smugly disregard the judges assessments and reject what could be career-making improvements.
It’s a great lesson for businesses. Invite your customers and employees to take part in your success. Invest them into your development and you can grow your success and your raving fan base together. Maybe they won’t spend their evenings dialing in to support your singing talents, but they’ll happily re-tweet your posts, share your news on social media, and talk to their friends about you.