Recently 3WD was invited to participate in an RFP process for a large non-profit organization in the DC area. The project involves taking a deep dive into various audience behaviors to improve upon customer engagement. The RFP process inspired us to capture the elements required to create a customer engagement roadmap. This process is not for the faint of heart and any participating organization will transform. If done correctly, this process aligns all your business processes, communications, products, and programs with an approach that engages your customers. That means engaging them in the opportunities as well as the challenges. The goal would be to predict critical points in time where customers are potentially vulnerable. Here’s an idea of what to expect.
No doubt, you have some internal customer data that enables you to develop a baseline of how your customers feel about your organization as well as when they tend to make decisions about buying more or less of your product or service. Wikipedia says that psychometrics is the study concerned with the theory and technique of psychological measurement including the measurement of knowledge, abilities, attitudes, personality traits, and educational measurement. Applying psychometric approaches to the data you already have allows you to begin this baselining process. The idea of layering in attitudes and characteristics with data about sales cycles allows you to create a strong baseline.
Typically a kick-off meeting is a great way to make sure that all the basics are in order and written down for all stakeholders to agree upon. Capturing what you know and what elements you plan to work with is the best way to begin setting your plan of action. The planning phase should identify goals, schedules, audience segments, key company events or any organizational considerations. Think of this as tone setting and framing the project through a set of realities that will impact how the project moves forward. Anytime you are steering a large group of stakeholders, this step can’t be taken for granted.
The customer engagement process will require that you take careful inventory of all the communication materials that are being used by the company. That includes the company website, training materials, call center scripts, recorded messages, marketing materials, employee communication materials, executive notifications, conference materials, EVERYTHING. A messaging and branding framework is a critical component of this process so that the organization has a guiding principle to work from. The framework would flesh out audience segments and offers. Analyzing your baseline data and the points of vulnerability will help you target appropriate intervals for impacting engagement.
These days, every organization has to think of themselves as a creator and distributor of content since the digital medium provides so many opportunities for self publishing. You need to consider where your customers are likely to be publishing information about your company and then finding ways to integrate. For example if you are a retail business, then local search would be a channel where you would need to have a presence. If you are a business-to-business organization, then industry specific communication channels will need to be considered. Of course, appropriate social media channels need to be in the mix because they offer unique opportunities for your messages to be emphasized and endorsed by others. If you don’t already know where your customers are likely to be, determining that should be part of the baselining phase and experimentation with various channels will need to be part of your roadmap.
Communities of practice either already exist or need to be created as a part of a successful customer engagement program. Your constituents may already be communicating in some digital forums that your organization should have a role in. However, you may find that your constituents need better tools and potentially inspiration to form communities. Defining your organization’s role in communities is the important task. Will the organization learn from and respond to the community’s questions or concerns? Will you use it for recognition? Will you tap into the community when you need ideas? Will you use it as a channel of communication ? Or perhaps you will feed the community with useful content that helps them do their jobs? In any case, the role needs to be carefully defined and staffed with the goal of not suffocating the community, but becoming a respected and predictable member. Here are a few examples of active communities of practice: Classroom 2.0, National Association of Agricultural Educators, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Each takes a different approach illustrating the point that the job of clearly defining your organization’s role is primary.
New and improved support systems will be identified and put into place through this process. These would consist of anything from more appropriate compensation structures that reward the type of behavior customers crave to programs or tools that make an employee more efficient. Technology allows you to creatively address how information is accessed and how work gets done. Helping solve problems in different places in the organization can change the way you are perceived. For example, Vine could be used as a business tool for remotely showing quick, entertaining, educational video demonstrations at a customer site like this: Fun example of great basketball skills. Or Pinterest for simple instructions. The task is to determine the best tool for conveying the information, then creating the content and making it available to the right audiences.
To reinforce the point that an effective customer engagement strategy is an iterative process, you must build in points of testing and validation. The study should include questions such as: What will you measure? At what intervals? What does success look like? What is the process for evolving ideas? The result will be a refinement of tools and tactics. Again, not for the faint of heart;-).
Think of your engagement roadmap is your guideline. Tactics are tested and validated so that a final set of business/marketing processes can be made a part of your repertoire. Customers become a component of your management strategy and your organization becomes more responsive, productive and profitable.
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