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Beyond Social Business – A Definition of Customer Engagement

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Paul Greenberg wrote a great blog this week defining Customer Engagement. I am much looking forward to his expanded paper on the topic.

Basically he writes that in 2012:

  • Out: Social Business and Social CRM
  • In: Customer Engagement

What’s the difference?

Ray Wang and Dion Hinchliffe define this more elegantly, but in simple terms CRM Systems hold customer records, whereas Engagement Systems facilitate customer interactions (company-customer and customer-customer).

Customer Engagement is fundamentally about a customer’s 1) voluntary, 2) ongoing interaction with a company and its products or services for the purpose of 3) mutual value creation. So yes, the company should derive value (profits or other KPI), but in my mind key to Paul’s definition of Customer Engagement is the creation of Customer Value.

Customer Value is NOT measured by the time that customers spend interacting with your marketing tools or even by customer loyalty, but rather by – well – the VALUE delivered to customers through your product or service. So if you are going to measure time spent, then focus on the time spent interacting with the product or software itself, rather than with sales and marketing materials. Even better, focus on metrics that are specific to your product or service: Tracey Kaufman from Cloud9 says it all in a recent video blog Your Customer Success is Your Own Success: (in essence) “if the goal of your product is to save customers money, then customer success if defined in terms of money saved (not time spent)”.
So, when you speak about Customer Engagement next, make sure to think not just about Customer Engagement before purchase (sales and marketing interactions) but especially about Customer Engagement AFTER purchase (using your product or service).

At Totango, we can help you model your customer lifecycle and define customer actions that correlate directly with customer value created. We recommend that you segment your customers in groups depending on whether or not value was delivered to them. Your customer success team can use this information to help lagging customers along. Your sales and marketing teams can use the actual benefits customers have gotten as a tool to up sell (at Totango we prefer “up serve”).
If you focus on Customer Value, the rest, including and especially customer referrals, will follow naturally.

Guy Nirpaz

Guy Nirpaz is a Silicon Valley-based Israeli entrepreneur and CEO of Totango, a Customer Success software platform. A pioneer in the Customer Success field, Guy established the Customer Success Summit and is a well-regarded industry speaker and community contributor. Guy loves people and technology and has dedicated his career to improving the way in which business is done through innovation. Fun Facts: Guy moonlights as the lead guitarist in a rock band based out of his garage in Palo Alto and used to command a tank well as having grown oranges.

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