I remember when I was working with a group of engineers and my task was to get them to consider the points of view of members of the community. It’s not that they didn’t consider community opinion, they just didn’t think about it. They build stuff. As I’m explaining to them the importance of engaging with your public, one of them said, ‘Ah, I see, so you’re talking about the “fluffy stuff”.’
It was a break through moment. That’s what customer engagement is – the fluffy, feely, intangible, sometimes uncomfortable, but extremely important stuff. It opened up conversation so I could joke that, yes, ‘fluff’ is my thing, but that they are working with the emotions of customers as well. Had they ever had an angry phone call from a resident? Or did they have a group of people thank them for a project they had completed on time with minimal disruption? Of course!
They could now see that building stuff was great, but we have to consider the emotional impact of what we do as well. It was uncomfortable for them, but with a ‘fluff expert’ to help, they felt more in control. I think this story has huge implications for any business. Connect with the emotions of your customers well, and you’ve got customers for life, get it wrong and everyone will soon hear about it.
It comes down to this – how do your customers want to feel? And how can you help them feel this way?
The Bazaarvoice blog gives a few examples:
- A clothing store sponsors a Twitter chat for job-seekers, shares a special coupon code to use when shopping for interview clothes. Chat participants then associate the brand with professional advancement and career aspirations
- Consumer tools company Fiskars starts the Fiskateers crafting ambassadors movement, bringing a commoditised product to life by connecting crafting fans to ideas, inspiration and each other
- Philosophy skin care asked customers to share stories of their moms’ philosophies for Mother’s Day, a campaign that gathered over 1,000 website submissions and generated 39% of all site traffic for the month
And I’ve seen some great examples here too:
- Fed square in Melbourne provides free folding tables and chairs to visitors over lunch, so stressed out workers have a place to go to relax and enjoy their city.
- A boutique clothing store running a night with a stylist for business women so they can confidently select their next power suit with personalised service.
- And Coca Cola printing names on bottles for their customers to identify with.
So what is the feeling your customers want? Do they want to feel creative, adored, useful, relaxed, accomplished, organised, connected, inspired, strong, heard etc…
And how can you ‘build stuff’ AND connect with at least one of these feelings for your customer?