As I was talking with a 15-year-old-to-remain-unnamed this weekend, it reinforced for me that the tenets of customer engagement are the same as trying to teach a teenager to have a wider world view. Teenagers are caught up in a world where they are the center of their universe and all things happen to them or because of them. You and I know that’s not true, but do you remember how difficult a lesson that was to learn for all of us?
It’s not surprising that many businesses have the same skewed views of the world as they embark upon understanding and improving customer engagement. Often the conversation in conference rooms and cubicles starts out sounding like “How can we make the customer see how awesome we are? Once they do they’ll totally love us.” That’s the wrong place to start.
The first thing you need to realize is that it’s about them, not you.
“Oh, I know that!” you’ll say. “Let’s post about all the products we offer so they’ll see how we can change their lives! It’s all about having a positive impact on the customer!”
But that’s not quite the right way to approach it either. Instead, think about starting the conversation with this question: “What is the most important thing in my customer’s life right now?” Don’t try to qualify it with topics that surround your own business and what you can offer. If the most important thing in their life has nothing to do with you or your product/service (and most likely it doesn’t), that is critical for you to understand.
Knowing this allows you to come to terms with the fact that they may not love you right away and it may take time for them to warm up to you. A by-product of that is that you will typically find yourself communicating in a more humble voice, one that tries to provide help and value while realizing that you’re not necessarily top of mind… yet.
The good news is that all of this will help keep you in that customer’s frame of reference and the communication style should aid positive recollection of you as a person and, by extension, your business. That means they’ll be more receptive to listening to what you have to say, and when they are in need of your services, you’ll be there to help them out.
Then they’ll see how awesome you really are.
Photo credit DLeafy @ http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1198751