Nadin Vernon, PRIME Research
(Oxford, UK) Today’s consumers are spoilt for choice. Whether you consume a lot or a little, are looking for a product, a service or an experience, not only is there a plethora of choices out there, most options are handily accompanied by reviews and ratings. However, this doesn’t necessarily make our decision process as consumers any easier. Those of us who consume less tend to be even pickier about our choices. How do we, as modern savvy consumers – more informed and empowered than ever – decide what and who to invest our precious time in?
Engagement is not a new term, nor is the notion of it representing today’s currency. However, marketers are increasingly struggling to find ways to engage their customers. Not once or twice, but on a continuous basis.
I recently attended an event entitled ‘Winning in the Engagement Economy’ by 3radical which explored all forms of engagement, both from a customer and employee point of view.
Rusty Warner, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research argued that we must embrace context to become customer-obsessed. “Customers value brand experiences that help them accomplish things or make their lives easier.” As service providers then, we must focus on usefulness before cleverness and offer a meaningful and compelling value exchange.
The journey doesn’t stop here, however. Just because we managed to win our customer’s attention once, does not make our strategy sustainable. “Grabbing the attention of prospective customers is one thing—keeping them engaged beyond that is something completely different”, as Alastair Cole, CIO at Andrews Aldridge put it.
We have to understand changing customer behaviour and preferences. In order to do that we must listen to our customers, find out how they tick, what keeps them up at night and offer ways to help. By delivering an experience with promise, we can build deep and dynamic relationships.
Cole identified five winning behaviours to keep customers: be quick, be captivating, be helpful, be authentic, and be personal.
This strategy can be applied to consumers and customers in any industry, be it B2C or B2B. At PRIME Research we find that the most successful programmes flourish from full engagement and close collaboration between partners, built on trust and understanding. Listening is key as a first step on the road to developing the best fit.
Looking at the engagement economy from all angles, it makes sense to also explore employee engagement.
Adam Henderson, a speaker and writer on the modern workplace caught my attention a while back with his article on flexible working. Henderson’s words really resonated with me as he explored how to tackle the current global employee engagement crises.
As an advocate of a new way of working, his message is clear: “Businesses need to fundamentally change the way they work to reflect the way the world is and not the way the world was.” As much as we strive to sustain customer engagement, this must extend to sustained employee engagement throughout the key stages of the employment cycle, namely recruitment, on-boarding, engagement, development and progress.
The Deloitte 2016 Millennial Survey published insights around expectations in the workplace. Salary, job title and job security were considered hygiene factors, while company culture, the ability to progress and learn, autonomy to get things done and measuring value on results rather than time served, scored much higher on the list of wants.
While some might say that these weightings exclusively apply to Millennials’ idea of the workplace, I agree with Henderson in that Millennials are simply early adopters of a new way of thinking and working – anyone can be a modern employee, regardless of age.
Given the seismic change and acceleration of our recent technological revolution, cultural lag is inevitable.
Deloitte found that the values that support long-term business success are people treatment, ethics, and customer focus.
In the pursuit of continuous engagement, we must listen and get to know our customers and employees to build authentic, deep and dynamic relationships.