Creating a Customer Engagement Culture (Part 3)

This post, Creating a Customer Engagement Culture, is the last installment in the customer engagement trilogy.  In it, I examine the recommendations of the authors of the article, Creating an Engagement Culture, published in Chief Learning Officer Magazine.

“Improving employee and customer engagement is hard and there are few models to guide leaders on how to achieve it.” – Leimbach, Michael & Roth, Tim, (2011) Creating an Engagement Culture, Chief Learning Officer Magazine.

The primary lesson I took away from the article was that focusing solely on customer engagement strategies ignores your employees who, after all, are the people engaging your customers.  If your employees have not made an emotional choice to be loyal to your company they’re not as effective when engaging your customers.  According to the authors there are 5 areas leadership and their managers must strategically align to create a customer engagement culture: Opportunity, Personal Accountability, Validation, Inclusion and Community.

As the quote above says, creating a customer engagement culture isn’t easy.  It’s also not impossible.

5 Key Components to Creating a Customer Engagement Culture

  1. Opportunity – Focus on potential rather than on loss.  Focus on growth rather than survival.  Create an environment where employees feel they are engaged in a process that recognizes personal contribution as necessary for company success.
  2. Personal Accountability – Set, Communicate and Measure behavioral expectations that support company values.  This task is about aligning what you do (task specific) with how to behave while doing it (action specific). Achieving this objective may require manager communication training to reinforce, support and clarify expectations.
  3. Validation – Acknowledge and encourage everyday performance, not just the top performers.  When leadership validates its employee’s efforts they send a signal that employees matter.  It is the daily affirmation, a note, a kind word, or a gesture that says, “Hey, employee, you matter and we notice.” that makes employees feel personally supported and valued.
  4. Inclusion – Change is difficult but when Leadership engages employees in the change process they achieve buy in when change decisions are made inclusive. Imposing change from above creates resistance but effective dialogue resulting from leadership listening to employees, incorporating the best suggestions into the change process and regular, positive communication creates a sense of community and trust that flows upward from employees to leadership.
  5. Community – A term I often hear regarding business cultures is “silos”. Departmental, informational, operational and other silos of isolation contribute to “not my department” or “not my job” attitudes. Seeking a high engagement culture in your company means tearing down the silos and building community engagement halls where information, goals, success stories and failure challenges are shared and acknowledged; a place where collaboration is encouraged.

Stating the obvious, there is nothing said here about creating systems to encourage customer engagement as a cultural value.  Instead, the authors focus on what your company can do to align executive and management leadership around the values of an engaged culture.

I agree with the author’s that engagement is a choice made by your employees and customers.  It is not something that can be imposed.  They conclude that a culture of engagement is one where the conditions under which engagement can occur have been met, thereby providing your employees – and by extension your customers – an opportunity to choose to be fully engaged with your company.

I think most of us would agree that it’s not easy but it’s also not impossible.

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