There's not one defined path for increasing customer engagement. This makes perfect sense — a manufacturing company and a financial services firm don’t operate from the same playbook. Your businesses has to determine the most important factors or “key drivers” that speak to your customer experience. Key drivers pinpoint the behaviors that support customer engagement and give you a better idea of what to do to increase it.
When selecting key drivers for a customer survey, I recommend that companies consider two issues: how to identify a set of key drivers, and how to use them.
Identifying Key Drivers
In deciding on a list of key drivers, you must avoid looking for the “absolute” key driver that, if every company followed the same way every time, would result in identical levels of loyalty and attachment for every customer. The goal isn't to identify specific words and phrases or steps; rather, you should choose key drivers that help you identify what general types of key drivers would provide the greatest return on investment.
To find the right set of items, your company should thoroughly examine your existing data; have discussions with essential client personnel about strategy, vision and job shadowing; and review current training, hiring and performance management. The wording of the items should measure the overall power or potential of creating strong levels of engagement. Avoid items that measure specific actions, such as being greeted by name or saying “thank you” instead of “thanks.” Item wording should measure employee talent by using phrases such as “genuinely cared about me as a customer” or “genuinely valued my business.” The following list includes other examples of weak and strong items.
Using Key Drivers
Asking the right questions is paramount to understanding what improves your customer engagement. However, it's equally as important to take the answers to those questions and create a workable plan of action. A follow-up analysis will help your company identify how to improve customer engagement. Armed with insights from this analysis, you can evaluate your current processes, tactics and approach to determine if they align with the ideal customer experience. Then, you can help your employees focus on the correct behaviors and provide them with the support, tools and training needed to achieve emotional connections with customers. Some suggestions for improving customer engagement include:
- assessing the current selection tools and implementing talent-based hiring;
- offering career options and counseling for underperforming employees;
- providing easy access to customer information at all levels for employees who need it;
- looking at internal reward systems and goal alignment to ensure your company is encouraging the right employee behaviors;
- examining brand positioning vs. core benefits offered; and
- reviewing marketing communications and promotions to gauge their effectiveness.
One set of key drivers may not work with all of your company’s key accounts. However, I often find that businesses can draw from the same set of general categories such as relationships, opportunities, and positioning and approach. By effectively working on key drivers related to customer engagement, your company can make significant improvements in customer engagement scores and business performance.
Ed O’Boyle is global practice leader for workplace and marketplace at Gallup, a research-based, global performance management consulting company.
Jeff Durr is a partner at Gallup