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Want to improve customer engagement? Look in the mirror then do these things.

Posted on October 6, 2021 , by Steve Bernstein
Want to improve customer engagement?  Look in the mirror then do these things.

Some things just cannot be automated.

I recently had an awesome exchange on LinkedIn around some of the differences between B2C and B2B, with emphasis on the idea of “relationships.” B2C companies can’t really create relationships with their customers (in general) because the staffing costs would drive them about of business.

B2B is different.

Starting in the sales cycle we generally start moving away from the 1:Many marketing (except, perhaps targeted ABM) to thinking 1:1 / 1:Account to close the deal. The customer receives 1:1 attention and (if the sales rep is any good) then, “This will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship” as the customer connects with the Customer Success team to support their endeavor, furthering the relationships.

But only if you want them.

That’s the trouble with most Customer Success / “customer engagement” strategies. We want the benefits that come from relationships (such as retention, easier expansion, marketplace advocacy, and more) but we’re not often willing to build them. We look at “customer engagement” as process by which customers engage with the vendor, yet that’s largely backwards as a lagging indicator.

Companies seeking to build relationships ought to look in the mirror and see how they are developing those relationships themselves: Imagine if you asked your significant other what is bothering them, and why… they give you an answer and then……………no reply from you? Sounds like a recipe for an argument (or divorce?).

And yet that’s exactly what most companies do today with their ridiculous NPS surveys.

Perhaps they don’t realize that humanizing and strengthen relationships can be ASSISTED by technology. While technology can’t replace the relationship, there certainly are plenty of things that can be automated to assist the human-to-human connection — here’s a start of very specific actions that CS can take to strengthen relationships.

Most of the time, if you are genuine in seeking a true dialog then people will participate (and our 80%+ response rates are a signal that it works). But we’re all quite perceptive and can smell a rat when faced with it. “Your feedback is important to us.” Ha ha ha… prove it.

If you don’t intend to follow-up then don’t ask (we KNOW such ridiculousness creates detractors). Better yet, intend to follow-up – that’s the job of the Customer Success org, isn’t it? – and then actually do it! By encouraging their customers to participate in the feedback process (let’s call it, “customers’ assessment”) the Customer Success team can open new dialogs, drive the right course-corrections, and accelerate expansion (grow NRR!).

BTW, I’m unhappy with the word “customer” in B2B environments… perhaps the word should instead be phrased as “minimally, ALL of the right contacts/stakeholders in the account” because there really is no one single person that is THE customer to participate in providing feedback.

What’s your take — can’t technology assist the human-to-human relationships by driving the optimal process?