Edwin Schlosler once said: The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think.The more success you have with customer engagement, either on-line or off, the better your understanding of their needs and priorities. Having the best customer insights makes it much easier for you to define your next moves and social media engagement as well as improve you odds of success.
I was recently sent a copy of KPMG Nunwood’s report titled B2B Customer Experience: Winning the Moments That Matter. The report is filled with some great nuggets, but I latched on to the phases of relationship connection and moments that matter.
How do you achieve relationship status with your customers? Do you know which moments matter most to them? And which are moments of failure?
Related post: The Zen of Winning the Battle of the Content Plan
When we engage with customers (or, when they engage with us), we are (hopefully) engaging for the long-term, developing a relationship. Some folks question the use of the term “relationship” when it comes to customers, but let’s just use Merriam-Webster’s definition, which tones things down a little: the way in which two or more people, groups, countries, etc., talk to, behave toward, and deal with each other; the way in which two or more people or things are connected.
That connection is what I’m referring to. We want to connect with our customers, not just transact with them. Relationships take time and work, every day; the focus and the desire to keep the relationship alive and strong should never stop because, when it does, the relationship will end. The connection is gone.
It has been said that to be a success in social media engagement you must be useful or entertaining (or hopefully both). Have you ever seen the videos of Steve Jobs with his media presentations on Apple’s new product announcements? I am a big fan, I admit … but you don’t have to be a fan to recognize the genius in his presentation. They are simple, useful and, most of all, entertaining.
Let’s examine the strengths of these presentations and apply them to improving your content marketing. Remember … the objective of your content is to create a context in which your audience can think:
Focus on dreams, not products
… it is the end state customer utility that counts most
Social media engagement … create ‘Holy Smokes’ moments
… grab immediate attention with your title and lead paragraph sentences
Use heroes, villains, and drama
… tell a story to communicate your content whenever possible. Stories do a good job of giving meaning that can be remembered.
Stick to the rule of 3
… focus on no more than 3 key messages
Social media engagement … think simple
… communicate with simple words and messages for a broad audience
Rely on visual messages
… use images to convey your messages and re-enforce with words
Create Twitter friendly key points and messages
… more on the simple theme with rich keywords
Share the stage
… collaborate and test your content and editing with others both inside and outside your business. Do include key customer advocates
To conclude, let me give you two excellent examples, one from Marriott hotel and one from JetBlue Airline.
Marriott customer engagement example
I stayed in a new Marriott Courtyard hotel a while back. The situation was that it was recently opened and should not have been opened until the problems were worked out and management was ready. There were many problems, believe me and it started as a significant customer failure.
But not only did the staff take care of the issues for me, the manager, once he got me back to ‘even’, continued to build the relationship with me. His techniques included exceptional, personalized service … using my name in face-to-face greetings, and continued follow-up and attention to detail. He actually made me believe I was the best customer he had ever had. Not only did I forget about the earlier problems, but I was feeling great about the entire three-day experience.
Service recovery requires remaining with your customer, through follow-up, and through unexpected contact well after the issue. All customers deserve our best service … but the ones that have a negative experience represent an opportunity to define a business.
Such an opportunity represents an opportunity to turn customers into enthusiasts and maybe even advocates. And that requires going beyond the ‘break-even’ point for that customer.
Research has shown time and time again that customers who reported a problem and were delighted with the outcome have higher satisfaction with the business than the ones who never experienced a problem. So these results show the importance of turning customer failure into full customer recovery.
Why should any company not want to seize such an opportunity?
Try it … the next time you have a customer who has had a back experience with your business. You will be amazed at the results.
JetBlue customer engagement example
This is a story of JetBlue’s customer engagement strategy built on its employee empowerment culture. I experienced it first hand and was duly impressed.
The story started a while back while I was sitting on the runway in Orlando as my homeward-bound Jet Blue flight was about to taxi toward takeoff. Like just about every other flight that hadn’t already been canceled that day on the Eastern seaboard, ours was a couple of hours late departing. The lead flight attendant gets on the P.A. system and says something very close to:
Ladies and Gentlemen, we know we’re late taking off, and even though it’s the weather and not something we caused, we’re going to comp everybody movies for this flight. We know you’ve all had a long day and we want it to end with something nice and relaxing. And for those of you who were supposed to be on the Continental flight and ended up here, we don’t ever want you to go back.
The mood on the flight which could have been a rather dreary late evening affair took an immediate upswing. People joked and smiled and made eye contact. They were noticeably brighter and calmer as the flight progressed. And I’m writing about the experience today and business travelers are reading about it.
What enabled this relatively small act of kindness and allowed it to become a major brand statement? Midflight, I went to the back of the plane and asked. I wanted to know the policy that allowed a flight attendant to make such a call.
We’re allowed to make almost any decision, the flight attendant explained, as long as we can justify it on the basis of one of the airline’s five core values: Safety, Caring, Integrity, Fun or Passion. If we can tie doing something back to one of these principles, the decision is going to be supported by the company.
What JetBlue is saying to its employees … if you act in support of the values that really matter to our business, we want you to take risks in order to care for our customers.
This is a very simple concept, eh? But how many of us put such a thing into practice with our own people? Sit down today with your employees and do what Jet Blue did. Start building your employee empowerment culture today.
The bottom line
To be effective in this new era, we as marketers need to see our jobs differently. No more just focusing on metrics like clicks, video views or social media shares. We must successfully integrate our function with other business functions to create entire brand experiences that serve the customer all the way through their experiences throughout the business.
We can do better. Much better. But first, we need to stop seeing ourselves as crafters of clever brand messages and become creators of positive brand experiences.
There can never be enough focus on continuous improvement on brand marketing, independent of how well the business is doing. It seems we are all looking to take their success to a new level. This is an excellent time to make a statement with their brand marketing. Changing before you have to is always a good idea.
Lots that we can apply from these eight lessons, isn’t there?
Please share an example or experience from your story vault.
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Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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