Everything is instant today. Instant gratification. Immediate results. Management and customers alike want to see quick wins and improvements. This behavior is largely driven by the customer, with organizations scrambling to keep up with their wants, needs, and demands. Many organizations feel that if they don’t do something immediately, they will lose the customer forever. And it’s easy to see why. According to an article by McKinsey, 58% of customers will switch brands versus staying loyal. Unfortunately, due to a rushed desire to satisfy them, an organization’s communication often ends up missing the mark – talking at the customer – instead of with them.
Instant is not better. Sometimes it’s worse. Much worse for your business.
Forbes Insights recently published a report that details the three key characteristics of leaders in customer engagement:
- Purposely connect engagement goals to business outcomes.
- Create a culture and organization for customer engagement.
- Obsess in delivering consistent customer experiences.
These keys only work when developed into a long-term strategy. Success doesn’t happen overnight, and trying to install quick fixes – or quick wins – will not sustain in the long run.
According to the report, leaders spend their energy thinking about business improvements that will ultimately lead to top-line growth. Followers tend to look for short-term solutions and often underestimate the long-term value of the customer. While customer data may seem qualitative and difficult to trace back to financial outcomes, there is value in measuring retention or churn, lifetime value, and Net Promoter Score over one-time purchasing customers. When less effort is needed to keep a customer versus gain a new one, the shift to thinking more long term is easy.
Apply these three characteristics and take a long-term lens on customer engagement.
- Purposely connect engagement goals to business outcomes
Engaging for the sake of engaging leads to meaningless conversations with customers – a situation in which everyone loses. However, if you have an outcome-driven strategy for customer engagement, you’ll better understand what to track and how you’ll track it. Then the next time you engage with your customer, it will mean something because it’s intentional. This builds trust and loyalty with the customer.
- Create a culture and organization for customer engagement
It takes 30 days to create a new habit. A cultural shift towards a focus on customer engagement must become a habit, and it has to start with leadership. If it’s written into the strategy of the company, the whole organization is empowered to take on the changes.
- Obsess in delivering consistent customer experiences
Creating consistency can only happen if you’re offering the same experience no matter how the customer engages. Whether engaging through a call center or an IVR, for example, customers should be able to continue the conversation across channels without losing context. The only way to meet this demand at the scale of today’s interactions is to provide awareness, memory, and an overall understanding of the customer journey.
Organizations that shift their customer engagement strategy with every change in the wind will not see positive results. Thinking long term doesn’t mean that a company cannot be agile, however. The long-term strategy should be flexible enough to change with a company, but consistent enough to create a bond with the customer. According to Forbes Insights, market leaders have shown that effective planning and investment in the right conversations, the right technology, and the desire to focus the organization on engagement leads to more success in the long run.
To learn more, download the full Forbes Insights report, “The New Rules of Customer Engagement.”
View the full list of Forbes Top 50 Most Engaged Companies.