The 4 Pillars of Responsible Customer Engagement

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All consumers have had horrible interactions that tarnish their view of a company. That time they spent hours on the phone with multiple representatives who didn't understand their problem. Or were deluged with reams of irrelevant mailings based on false assumptions or stale interactions. Or tried in vain to perform a simple action, such as check a bill or place an order, only to be stymied by a poor interface. Together, these bad experiences add up to irresponsible engagement, characterized by interactions that aren't relevant, respectful, or valuable, and make a business lose credibility to boot.

All companies want to improve their interactions with customers. They want to create practices that elevate the experiences of all customers and minimize the number of people who slip into black holes, territories the company simply hasn't anticipated. That's where the four pillars of responsible engagement come in. By applying the principles of relevance, respect, credibility, and value, companies can practice responsible engagement.


Relevance is about understanding the customer, and using information about that customer appropriately. The old way of figuring out if an experience was meeting customer expectations was to have separate satisfaction scores for a Web site, contact center, retail store, and social interactions. That doesn't work anymore. Truly understanding the customer requires mapping the customer journey.

When customer experience consultants come in, many suggest starting with a focus group to understand consumer feelings in a qualitative way. But there are also solutions that take advantage of the mountains of data that companies can produce. ClickFox helps map customer journeys for "high interaction, high transaction" for Fortune 100 companies, says Chief Marketing Officer Joe Galvin. Its clients include major wireless companies, which have extremely complicated, multichannel sales and customer service issues. When it comes to paying a bill, for example, customers may do so over the phone, in a retail store, or online.

Whenever ClickFox comes in to work with a company, "we see a lot of broken processes," Galvin says. But without taking into account the customer journey, it can be hard to identify what's broken. If a customer tries to perform a function on the Web site and fails because it's not working or confusing, that consumer may then go through a telephone interactive voice response system, and "ultimately talk to a customer service agent and rate the agent low. [But] it wasn't the agent that had the low rating, it was all the processes before that failed. We can show the journey so we don't ding the last person who got talked to," Galvin says.

Besides fixing the breaks in a customer journey, companies often use ClickFox to give consumers smoother journeys in the future. For example, the program will figure out what a consumer's preferred channel is, enabling marketers to message him using that channel. If a marketing message delivered at a certain time is leading to low satisfaction scores, the company knows to go in and fix it.

Paul Tedesco, who outlined these very pillars during a talk at the 2013 CRM Evolution conference, finds that consumers are easily frustrated when they feel companies aren't doing anything with the data they so graciously gave up. "Ther's a quote from an actual focus group that said, "I know that you know me, so tell me that you know me and act like you know me," says Tedesco, the vice president of customer experience agency RAPP. Tedesco's pet peeve is when "I got a bank's credit card, but I'd still get phone calls from them trying to get me to sign up for a credit card. They were trying to sell me something that I already had."

Eventually, companies should be able to identify a consumer using multiple channels not only after the fact for analysis, but in real time as well, something that most companies haven't mastered yet. Galvin envisions customers being able to call customer service and having the agent acknowledge that they just tried and failed to successfully use the Web site, something that ClickFox helps enable. "You can gain a tremendous amount of credibility by saying, 'I see you had trouble on the Web site, and rest assured, we're going to attempt to fix it.'" In this scenario, relevance isn't about targeted messaging, but about anticipating a consumer's wants and needs. To more fully do that, there has to be respect for the customer.


Respecting customers sounds deceptively simple. Just treat them the way you want to be treated. But in practice, demonstrating respect can be a tricky prospect. Bruce Temkin, managing partner of the Temkin Group, talks about "organizational empathy" as a guiding force. "If you think about empathy at an individual level, it's a human's ability to understand without explicit feedback the

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