By Catherine Fee, ADMA
Marketers have always faced one major challenge; that is, how to implement a customer engagement plan that retains customers and converts them into a sale. But many wonder what is the biggest reason for their customer engagement plans failing?
Chris Lowther, General Manager, Customer Enterprise Solutions, APAC for Pitney Bowes Software says that “failure is due to addressing the whole issue of customer engagement and loyalty from the inside out i.e. Vendors plan from their perspective and not the customer perspective. Plan ‘outside in’ if you are truly going to define customer experience, and then apply relevant supporting systems (technological or otherwise)”.
It may seem like marketing 101, but many organisations are often too focused on the bigger picture (the engage and sell) that they forget about the simple things like making sure to include a call to action or an option to engage through a specific platform.
Poor Vision and Management
Many mid-level marketers say that often the biggest factor in an engagement plan failing is poor vision and management from the inside. However if this is the case, it might be the knock-on effect of the lack of buy in from employees on the plan. So how do marketing directors gain the buy-in from the staff needed to execute a campaign? Or more importantly, how can they understand when and if the campaign is not aligned to the customers’ perspectives? Convincing employees to embrace change and engaging them must receive just as much attention as the campaign itself. The goal of employee engagement is to create buy-in, trust, and a willingness to deliver. Organisations consist of people who develop and deliver products/services to customers in exchange for revenue. When employees are truly engaged in company direction, they simply deliver better service. They strive to improve the customer experience because there’s a connection to the brand they’re working for. Therefore the team will create the value they would want if the roles were reversed, which means they are thinking about the desires of the customer as if they were their own.
Over Promise and Under Deliver
Another factor that people mention as a cause to failure is that more often than not we over promise and under deliver on the campaign promise. The question is: Is this a good way to build relationships with your customers?
It’s when companies under-promise and over-deliver that customers experience the memorable moments that influence their buying habits for a lifetime. A few years back, I was taking a Qantas flight to Japan. My partner was coming from Melbourne and his flight was severely delayed. I was waiting at the check-in desk (almost in tears) as the scenario played out in my head. He was going to make it, just not in enough time to check in. Let’s face it; we’ve all been in that situation before, right? Can you imagine what the attendant behind the desk did next? This may shock you. She printed off both tickets –with a single person standing there – and upgraded us both to Business Class. She then rang her manager to explain that a business class flyer was delayed from Melbourne and that she had everything ready for his arrival but needed the bags to go directly to the airplane for loading. That lady was risking her job, but she did it anyhow for the customers’ greater good. She took the initiative to keep the customer happy. A perfect example of the balance between keeping your staff engaged and how this can be transferred to the customer.
To this day, I choose Qantas over others (within reason). But more importantly, I’ve related this story to hundreds of people, shared it on Facebook, got over 100 likes and now to about 7,000 of you (or however many open and read this email). I relay it anytime anyone has a bad word to say about Qantas. The cost to the Qantas? About $50 for the pyjamas they provide to business class. But the lifetime value of this customer has dramatically increased.
Another item that Qantas got right on this occasion was their customer knowledge. The attendant could see that my partner flew for business every week and was a frequent Qantas flyer; and that relationship was worth holding onto. Have you heard the story about Miranda Kerr slating American Airlines because they lost her luggage? Which had her wedding dress in it! ADMA, and a lot of marketers, will tell you that data is the key to providing customer knowledge, which in turn is critical to truly engage, understand and predict customer behaviour and influence.
Anytime I hear consumers babbling about a brand, more often than not, it has been the result of the brand over-delivering. In a world where promises are routinely vague or broken, when we encounter such high service we find it, quite literally, remarkable. Small acts of generosity instil us with that rare feeling of being cared for or considered by a company. If it’s better than what we expected, or hoped for, we will remember it above anything else.
The role of marketing does not end with the sale. Remember the full spectrum of an engagement strategy: Retention, awareness, performance, acquisition. One of the best ways to promote growth over time is to retain and expand the customer base. One way to accomplish this is to ensure your customers aren’t just satisfied with their service or purchase, but that they are raving passionate fans.
ADMA have released a poll on this topic through the Loyalty and Engagement Expert Group. It will take 30 seconds to vote on what you think is the biggest factor in a customer engagement plan failing. We’d love to get your input.