I am presenting “Applying Baldrige to the Marketing Function” at the ISA Marketing and Sales Summit. This post originally appeared as a guest post on that site.
How high do you set your customer service bar? Think about the KPIs you use. Do you set goals for those KPIs based on your results from the previous year, against industry averages, or do you actually use benchmarks to ensure you are providing best-in-class customer service. Many companies set the bar too low. They want to satisfy or maybe just satisfice customers and really don’t care enough to put extra effort into gaining their customer’s engagement. Magic happens when you care enough to engage customers. They become fans. Fans are force multipliers for marketers!
Engaged customers don’t tell their coworkers and friends that your product isn’t easy to use. Engaged customers tell you why it isn’t easy to use and specifically how to correct it. Engaged fans are willing to tolerate beta releases because they know deep in their hearts that you will eventually give them access to Version 2.0 that specifically addresses their greatest needs. Engaged customers tell everyone that your products solve their problems.
If you truly want customers that are fans, customers that have a sense of ownership in your company, you have to measure customer sentiments. You need to understand how loyal your customers are, how many customers you retain, and how willing your customers are to advocate for you. How many of your customers are willing to recommend your offerings to people they know?
These results must be used to close the loop in your customer focused activities. The saying you can’t manage what you don’t measure applies to customer engagement as much as anything else. But results measures like any statistic that doesn’t have a comparison is worthless. Comparing “how you did” to “how you did last year” does not result in high levels of performance. You have to benchmark or compare these measures to someone that you know does those things well. Comparisons compel change and build a sense of urgency especially when they show that you aren’t as good as your competitors or as good as you thought you were.
The good news is it is easier than ever to engage customers. Not that the measures are easier to capture, but it is easier to engage with customers. Social media tools, inbound marketing techniques, and the always-connected world we live in gives us ample opportunities to connect and engage with customers but you have to have a plan. What’s your plan for moving customers down the continuum from satisficed to satisfied to engaged and beyond?
Contact me to discuss your specific marketing and sales challenges, how the Baldrige Criteria can help your organization, or look me up at the ISA Marketing and Sales Summit in St. Louis.