Many programs measure functional delivery, but a true “relationship” must deliver customer and employee experiences that are both functionally, and emotionally fulfilling.
The Theory of Emotional Connections
Service industry companies are always talking about how customer-focused they are and about wanting to build relationships with customers. This is easier said than done. But to begin, here’s some important, fundamental questions we need to address:
- What are customer relationships?
- How can they be built?
- What benefits do the relationships bring for service and the business?
Many programs measure functional delivery, but surely a true relationship must deliver customer experiences that are both functionally and emotionally fulfilling. There must be clear communication, with willingness to listen and act upon feedback.
Positive Economics of Customer Engagement
Engagement is the emotional connection or attachment that a customer develops during repeated and ongoing interactions. Engagement accumulates through satisfaction, loyalty, influence, and excitement about your brand.
Organizations who engage consumers to the point where they are moved to behavioral change do so by creating opportunities for emotional connections through ongoing, consistently positive experiences.
Customer behaviors include telling people of their positive experiences with an organization, referring other people, buying more products more often, staying longer in a business relationship, and remaining loyal even when faced with poor customer service or a bad experience with a product.
When customers are engaged with an organization, they are emotionally connected, passionate about its products and services, as well as aligned with the purpose and direction of the organization. Customers who increase their desirable behaviors are more economically valuable.
Delivering on Brand Promises
In the consumer goods market, relationships are created mainly by brand image as the actual experience lacks differentiation, hence the measurement of that experience is less important.
Basically, the product is the brand and the brand is the image, which is why communications are so important.
Customer relationships in service industries are built in a very different way. Good or bad experiences dominate opinions of the brand. Experiences are the delivery of the brand promise, and if the brand promise is not fulfilled, then the communication has been undermined, and the relationship will fail.
The Relationship Hypothesis
Customer relationships are very similar to personal relationships. Successful relationships need to grow, and likewise successful relationships address both functional and emotional needs.
In a business context, relationship growth can be defined as not only customer retention, but increased ROI (return on investment) profitability. This can be measured through variables such as likelihood to recommend and customer journey mapping.
Regardless of how you measure customer/employee relationships, the bottom line is that the relationships needs to be thoughtful for both customers and employees, with room to change and grow.
The Importance of Employee Engagement
The emotional connection that employees feel with their company spills over into customer engagement.
That is: customers feel the love. While customer engagement is critical to positively impact business outcomes such as revenues and profits, we must also consider the role of employees in the organization and the interaction and relationships they have with customers.
Like engaged customers, we know that engaged employees are the best employees. They are more productive. They create less risk because they are willing to settle disputes peacefully, and they are less likely to be searching for the next job. To create engaged employees, it is important that companies provide avenues for collecting and responding to employee feedback.
As with customers who know when companies are listening, employees who know their employers are listening will provide more feedback, which ultimately helps the company to better understand the concerns and needs of its employees.
In addition, managers that have the proper training and skills create spillover to employees, helping them feel confident in the direction of the company, as well as valued and protected. The value of engaged employees can be summed up: happier employees make happier customers.
Improving Relationships with Measurement
Now that we know that engagement can be promoted within the organization and measured,
with real financial benefits, what are the steps a company needs to take to improve engagement?
What should be the plan of action to help quickly recognize and quantify the benefits of engagement?
It all starts with a customer experience program that is engineered specifically to the needs, wants, and feelings of customers. To begin:
- Implement solutions to collect feedback and measure engagement
- Segment customers into categories, according to their engagement level. At MaritzCX, we use: Engaged, Swing and Disengaged. Determining where customers are in the process will help you to know where to start improving
- Use predictive analytics to optimize your action plans, by using customer feedback data to predict behaviors and industry trends
- Target certain segments with curated programs that increase engagement
- Finally, measure, act upon new information/data and then re-measure to compare results, and determine what further actions needs to be taken
MartizCX is Ready to Help
The MaritzCX Platform is a suite of web-based tools and services designed to help you engage and develop long-term connections and loyalty with customers. The tools consistently measure results, identify customer needs and constantly tweak programs to persistently improving engagement.
MaritzCX provides a feedback system that can be integrated seamlessly on an existing website, kiosks, teller terminals, or other interaction points. This solution helps collect, analyze, categorize and route feedback to management for a timely and appropriate response.
Companies will be able to build customer loyalty, because they will be able to show that they care, and are willing to listen and respond, while being able to quickly address customer complaints.
With the data collected through the platform, companies will be able to segment their customers and use the integrated predictive analytics to optimize action items, including making employees feel helpful, confident and informed, valued, and protected.
Create Meaningful and Rewarding Customer Relationships
At MaritzCX, we know its important to measure how people feel in terms of their relationship with a business, whether it be: helpful service, feelings of confidence, being informed, or feeling valued and protected.
Engagement is one of the most powerful emerging business principles of this century, but historically it has been elusive, unmeasured and undisciplined. We work together with businesses to show that customer experiences can be measured, and it’s not difficult to prove the value of customer relationships.
Want to learn more about how you can enhance your CX Program?