The benefits of fully “engaged” customers are well documented. We wrote about them in The Disney Way 3e. For years, the Gallup organization has been tracking the effects of customer engagement on a daily basis. They report that a fully engaged customer represents a 23% premium in terms of market share, revenue and relationship growth. A “disengaged” customer represents a 13% decrease in those same measures. (See The Disney Way 3e, Chapter 4)
Capodagli Jackson Consulting defines three levels of customer engagement: transaction, absorbed, and connection. The first is transaction. For example, if a customer asks, “Where is a good place to have lunch?”, your answer could be, “There are several restaurants on the next block.” You have completed the transaction, having politely answered the customer’s question with minimal engagement.
The next level is absorbed. Answering the same question in the previous paragraph, you may ask, “What kind of food do you like?” Assume the customer answers, “Italian.” You reply, “One of my favorite restaurants is Tony’s. It is on the next block, this side of the street. Enjoy!” You have not only completed the transaction with the customer, you have engaged them to solve a problem and recommend a solution.
The ultimate level of engagement is connection. Using our same example, after recommending Tony’s in the absorbed level, you conclude by saying something like, “My name is Bill; tell Tony I sent you there. If you have time after your lunch, stop by and tell me how you liked your lunch.” All of a sudden, you are connected with your customer and your friends…and, you may find that you agree on a favorite restaurant.
I realize that you may not have the time or opportunity to connect with all of your customers. However, it takes very little effort to elevate from transaction to an absorbed level of engagement. For example, in a retail environment, you could ask about the purchase: “Is this a gift? Would you like it gift wrapped?” OR say, “I notice you have a VFW polo shirt. Are you a veteran? Thanks for your service.” What you do not want to do is get into what I call the “supermarket robotic response”…“paper or plastic?, thank you, have a nice day, etc.” If the engagement is perceived to be insincere, it just becomes part of an automatic transaction response.
Work toward having 100% caring absorbed level of engagement with as many customers as possible. Then look for every opportunity to rise to the ultimate level of engagement – customer connection. The results just may overwhelm you!
Next week – Walt Disney Inspires us to Dream – So Open a Dream Room!