Studies show that a customer who is fully-engaged with a brand represents an average 23% premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth compared with the average customer.
So why is 'engagement' so hard for brands?
I suspect that the uni-directional nature of the traditional web may be among the root causes. Digital was far easier for brands to navigate when it was a broadcast medium.
Organizational complexities are also likely contributors. Should I respond to this? Am I 'allowed' to do so? Am I going to get in trouble?
So how do you go about moving from broadcast to engagement? Depending on where you are on your journey, there may be some big wins easily within reach:
Listen and Engage
Simple in concept but difficult for brands in practice. I equate this one to a cocktail party. If someone compliments you on your outfit, you don't turn around and walk away. You thank them.
Building an engaged customer can start with something as simple as saying 'thank you' when they express something positive about your products or services. It's surprising to me how infrequently this happens.
Start by taking a look on your owned social properties. Are comments from your audience being acknowledged? Are questions being answered and advocates celebrated? If not, start here.
Once you have this bit down, look beyond your owned channels. Find out how customers are expressing themselves when discussing your brand and where they're doing so. Engaging them beyond the obvious channels can truly surprise and delight.
Build Things Together
Magic really starts to happen when you advance the model beyond customer. Takes Dells Idea Storm or My Starbucks Idea. These platforms enable consumers to submit product ideas and the community at large can vote them up / down.
With over 150k ideas submitted and over 2M votes, it's clear that Starbucks customers want to engage and contribute to the brand. You know those little green anti-spill sticks? You got it -- A consumer generated idea.
While a standalone platform for idea submission is great, it may not be necessary. Introducing your Product Managers to your support communities is a great way to start encouraging co-innovative conversations.
Activate Your Advocates
Nothing denotes an engaged consumer than one who will defend you while adding meaningful business value.
Take for example Microsofts MVP program. Over 4,000 members strong, the MVP community helps other Microsoft customers get the most out of their experience with Microsoft technology. From Microsoft, "They share their exceptional passion, real-world knowledge, and technical expertise with the community and with Microsoft."
It's a brilliant example of what can happen when you activate your most engaged customers.
So how about you... Is your company talking at or engaging with customers in the interest of business value?