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Customer Satisfaction is Dead. Enter Customer Engagement.

There’s a new marketing ‘buzz’ word these days – customer engagement. In case you’re wondering whether this is just another fancy way of saying the same old thing about customer service, read on.

I attended a networking event yesterday, where a local health & fitness club were running a competition to see how many times you could hit a tennis ball on a racquet, while standing on a trampoline on one leg. Believe me, if you think that sounds hard, it’s even harder in practice. Being a rather competitive type, I gave it a few tries.

As it happens I’m already a member at a well known competitor closer to where I live. I’m quite happy with it, but wouldn’t say I’m ecstatic. I certainly wouldn’t have thought about moving had someone not drawn my attention to what the alternative might be.

But this clever marketing idea worked on several levels. It grabbed my attention. Not with a phone call, a flier or an advert. Not with someone hovering on a stand waiting to pounce on every pass-by. They created an experience. The experience was not just one of a conversation with a sales guy (and let’s face it, we’re always naturally suspicious when it comes to sales people). It was a kinesthetic and emotional experience that allowed me to ‘engage’ on a totally different level. I got involved. I had fun. My lasting memory of the experience is one of fun and challenge – brand values the club represents.

Also this week I attended a very ‘engaging’ seminar by Grant Leboff, author of bestseller ‘Sales Therapy’. His research suggests we are moving away from the era of ‘return on investment’ to ‘return on engagement’. Gone are the days when ‘customer satisfaction’ is the nirvana goal – whilst we’re still a long way off, it’s a bottom line expectation. If you haven’t got this bit sorted, prioritise it.

Now it’s all about creating memorable experiences that your ‘customers’ will remember, whether they buy from you or not. Because never has the power of ‘word of mouth’ been so powerful. With the wave of social media, people rely more on what others are saying about you, than they do on what you say about how fantastic you are. Which means that anybody and everybody who interacts with your business, at any touch point, could influence your business.

Take a moment and breathe that in.

What does this mean to you? You need to go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate your customer life-cycle and review the experience you’re creating. From marketing, through to sales, through to service and support. Are your employees ‘walking the talk’? Do they even know what this means? What are people saying about you? How do they remember you? This demands new levels of creativity and innovation, while staying true to brand values.

Cstomer engagement means bringing everything down the personal. ‘People buy people’ has never been truer.

Ignore ‘customer engagement’ at your peril.

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