In the first of this three-part series, we introduced our point of view on how organisations need to evolve their communications and capabilities to deliver growth through a meaningful customer experience, and 4 key principles for customer engagement:

  • It must be mutually beneficial
  • The customer needs to have a key role (whether the end-user, shopper, expert, distributor etc: i.e. whomever is the target of the communications)
  • Content is the cornerstone; essential in driving the customer experience and for the health of the brand
  • Ongoing measurement and optimisation is critical

This week we will look in more detail at the need for engagement to be mutually beneficial and the role of the customer.

In today’s technology-fuelled world, the customer has the choice of what brand communication they engage in - by dual screening, watching time delay TV, selecting whether to click through from an email or choosing their social media channel, they can engage in or screen out communication from brands throughout the day. To get noticed and engage the customer now, a brand must be relevant and genuine and invest in creating relationships.

These brand/customer relationships must be insight based to ensure the customer really sees a benefit of engaging with the brand - perhaps benefitting from advice on how to create a new hairstyle (maybe from ‘All Things Hair’), or recipes (from Kraft), or resources for their patients (like GSK’s Asthma app).

In such relationships the benefit to the brand will come from the customer sharing content and providing information about how they use products and services. In the best relationships customers’ views are used to evolve the customer experience further. As Procter & Gamble chief executive AG Lafley wrote in The Game-Changer: "We expanded our mission to include the idea that ‘the consumer is boss’. In other words, the people who buy and use P&G products are valued not just for their money, but as a rich source of information and direction.

To ensure the effectiveness of these relationships, there must always be a clear line of sight to the brand strategy.

Organisations like AirBnB and giffgaff base their business models around the engagement of their customers. They evolve and refine, taking into account customer feedback, they encourage customers to interact with other customers to share experiences and help improve their experience. This often has the additional benefit of driving awareness of related offerings from the brand.

Likewise Apple encourages customers to engage and interact via ‘Apple’s Support Communities’ – these not only reduce the need for Apple to be involved in problem solving, but also highlight key issues and opportunities to Apple than can be built into future upgrades.

British Airways uses customer information, gathered by assimilating data from all of the sources they have, to tailor their communication with their customers: this ensures offers and information are relevant and increases the likelihood of customers responding.

Finding ways to make your customer engagement mutually beneficial and giving the customer the right role in the relationship with the brand, should reward both your customer and your organisation. It’s at the heart of what we at Brand Learning call ‘customer-centred growth’, and requires new capabilities across the organisation.

This blog is part two of a three part series. In the next part you can find out How to optimise your content strategy with regular data inputs

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This post is by Katherine Theobald, Client Capability Director at Brand Learning