By Piers Platt, Chetna Bansal and Jay Lichtenstein of Rosetta Consulting
CustomerThink recently published this article on customer engagement by Rosetta Consulting’s Piers Platt, Chetna Bansal, and Jay Lichtenstein. The original piece can be found here.
There is an apparent disconnect between what marketers believe – that customer engagement is important for their business and their customers – and the realities of what they are doing. Ninety percent of marketers agree that customer-centricity is critical to their business moving forward, yet over half recognize there is “some combination of people, processes, and platform that hold their firm back from creating truly engaging experiences for customers.”* Customer engagement cannot be achieved by simply restructuring siloed business units, aligning compensation to customer metrics, improving technology platforms, or even delivering exciting, relevant content to consumers. Successful customer engagement requires investment, commitment, and changes on several fronts.
It can be a daunting and admittedly long-term process. One of the most common questions we get is, “How do I start this transformation toward customer-centricity at my firm?”
The simple answer: with a business plan. Not simply an “idea,” but a concrete plan with a mission statement that accurately captures what you want your brand to be for customers. From there, you can begin to assess your firm’s strengths and weaknesses. Remember to keep a broad view in mind, as successful customer engagement marketing requires close coordination across multiple disciplines. Once you have identified your gaps, you need to prioritize the activities and investments required to address them. Recognize that you will not be able to address all of your weaknesses right away; instead, focus on the low-hanging fruit and trust that the returns from those initial investments will help fund further investments to get to the ideal state. Finally, with a concrete plan ready, you must work to build organizational momentum behind it. Try not to focus solely on the plan itself, but emphasize what you imagine the future state for customers to look like, or how their experience will change for the better. This is not an easy process, but the dividends will be tangible for you and your business.
Harrah’s Casinos is a great example of a company that committed itself early on to implementing a customer engagement strategy and has since worked to incorporate a variety of critical elements. A data pioneer, Harrah’s made an IT investment in the early 2000s to analyze customer behavioral data and report results across channels and properties. They further aligned incentives to customer-centric metrics, compensating front-line employees based on satisfaction ratings rather than a set hourly wage. Finally, the Harrah’s Total Rewards Program tracks, retains, and rewards Harrah’s 15 million customers regardless of which casinos they visit. The program has created sustainable loyalty and significantly increased traffic to the company’s casinos – evidence of its ability to engage customers. Harrah’s customer engagement strategy has also evolved over time, fueled by a combination of customer and market insights, an investment in technology platforms, seamless and consistent delivery channels, and continuous measurement and refinement. Harrah’s has worked to ensure that all of the pipes are in place to create a connection with customers, to deliver engaging experiences, and to continue to improve upon them.
Companies that fail to create a concrete plan upfront often end up focusing all of their attention and budget on one area, and risk the ability to truly deliver on customer engagement. Take, for example, a discussion we had with the head of marketing at a national housewares retailer: Although they invested heavily in the state-of-the-art technology needed to track and analyze rich transaction data, they were missing a clearly defined strategy and an interaction plan built on deep customer insights. As a result, the company developed great ideas for one-off promotions and in-store displays, but were unable to personalize their marketing or engage with their customers outside of the store.
Lip service to customer engagement is all well and good, but to turn the promise into reality, marketers must have a vision for how they will make life better for customers, the organizational will to implement the changes, and the persistence to see it through.
The Customer Engagement Maturity Model was built based on data from the 2014 Rosetta Consulting Brand Marketing Survey, which polled 87 marketers and senior executives across industries about their approach to customer engagement. Each company was assessed on a broad range of best-practice areas, including culture, capabilities, data and insights, measurement, strategy, and technology. Industries included healthcare, financial services, consumer goods, technology, retail, food and beverage, and hospitality. Download the complete white paper summarizing our results here.
View the Rosetta Consulting white papers “Customer Engagement from the Marketer’s Perspective” and “Customer Engagement from the Consumer’s Perspective.”