Customer Engagement Management and Technology

Manuel Bautista, CIO, Harvard Maintenance
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Customer experience management (CEM) is the practice of managing and improving an organization’s customer touch points and interactions. The goal of this process is to help find and foster the real differentiators between you and your competition as well as helping you re-frame the conversation to what you want your customers to focus on.

In today’s business landscape, it is evident that the marketplace continues to turn into an increasingly commoditized environment. True success is defined by more than just having a great product, being convenient, or having a compelling online presence. It is driven by how engaged you are with your customers. Using the right technology in creative and intelligent ways allows companies to significantly improve their potential fordriving brand trust through increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. If done effectively, this drives repeat business and sustainable, profitable growth.

Traditionally, customer service has been a very reactive discipline primarily focusing on interactions during a sale, while resolving an issue, or when dealing with a new marketing/service/product campaign. For true CEM, a more proactive approach is needed to anticipate your customers’ needs in a way thathighlights your level of service and/or the competency in your chosen field. In the services industry, for instance, I have seen an increase in products where vendor performed inspections are used to give customers visibility into the quality of work performed and help establish a baseline of what customers should expect. The last thing you want is to go into a customer meeting to field questions about poor service or a missed deliverable. You must help your customer outline their expectations and align them to your commitments. Customers will naturally tend to focus on the negatives if you don’t proactively re-frame the conversation by showing what is truly happening with concrete data and if there are issues, discuss how you are working to resolve them before they are even on their radar.

  ‚ÄčAn important way to improve your CEM discipline is by increasing your customers’ touch points with you, your brand, and your product.  

An important way to improve your CEM discipline is by increasing your customers’ touch points with you, your brand, and your product. If done correctly with the right customers, you will always be at the front of their minds for referrals and new opportunities. One way that technology can help you achieve this, is by increasing your social media footprint. This is especially important in attracting and retaining Millennial prospects, customers, and employees. These days, you can’t have a conversation or browse an article without the word “Millennials” coming up in one way or the other and just like with every generation before, its increasingly important to discuss the topic sooner than later.

Today, it is just as easy as it is critical to start accounts with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and the rest. Creating an engaging website is equally, if not more, important to round out your online presence. Showing how you and your company can become thought leaders in your space via blog posts, press releases, and contributory articles in industry publications add to your credibility, but the key is how you aggregate and process all these touch points in a way that will not just be noise and truly help you succeed and differentiate. I suggest a product like Hootsuite that provides aggregation services to manage your social platforms. Additionally, implementing a good help desk solution with chat integration for your website like Zendesk can help you keep organized and address your customer service needs close to real-time. Make it exceedingly easy for your customers to reach you and think outside the box when looking for ways to interact. For instance, creating texting solutions with a Software as a Service (SaaS) provider like EzTexting or Twilio can give you those additional interactions that will make your competition become more and more irrelevant. Of critical importance, a survey solution from services like Survey Monkey or Constant Contact can help close the loop on how your sales, service, and customer service teams are really performing. Luckily, none of these products require much commitment and with most, you can start out for free, putting you in a great position to test what will work best for your company.

Don’t be afraid to try new things and if something isn’t working, be agile and change often. Focus on communicating with your customers and on doing more of what is working and being ruthless at cutting out what is not, both with your products/services and process. If this article has peeked your interest in moving forward and making changes in your organization towards a more engaged CEM process, remember that there is no right or wrong formula and usually it is less about the ‘what’ and more about the ‘who.’ To give yourself the best opportunities for success, make sure the team that will be leading this effort is engaged and has the Emotional Intelligence (EI) needed to treat this with the importance it deserves. They need to make it all about the customer. Lastly, remember to set your team up for success by setting clear goals for their efforts with frequent checkpoints on progress. We all have access to the same tools, so to be successful it is all about your commitment and consistency in implementing a sustainable CEM program.

5 Takeaways for Improving Customer Engagement Management

1. Increase your social footprint and create an engaging website.
2. 
Implement a help desk solution.
3. 
Make it exceedingly easy for your customers to reach you.
4. 
Think outside the box when looking for ways to interact with your customers.
5. 
Set your team up for success by setting clear goals with frequent checkpoints.