The word “engage” is, er, how can I put it? Engaging! It has many meanings. We engage in thought and activities when we devote our attention. It can refer to hiring someone or renting an apartment. Cars go forward because the gears are engaged. And, unless you are commitment-phobic, you get engaged and then you get married.
Engagement is central to any successful business. People buy products that are engaging, but they stay customers with companies that engage with them. In the days of Main Street shopping, engagement was as simple as a winning smile and the willingness to listen to customers expand on the details of various ailments and gossip about relatives. And, of course, it was about customer service – responding to complaints before they were shared with others down the street.
In today’s mobile and connected marketplace, engaging with your customer – or with your suppliers, or patients, or even employees, is an act of defiance! Your customer may never walk in the door. Your marketing systems may not “speak” to your order fulfillment system – and both may have nothing to do with customer service. But to engage with your customer, I mean really engage in the sense of knowing them like a Main Street proprietor knows their daily walk-in customers – customer service, for example, should know the communications preferences that the customer set on a web site and were used in marketing.
The most successful businesses now are focusing on the last frontier of automation: breaking down the barriers between their “automation” systems so that they can re-engage with their customers: an effective ECM system delivers efficiency – while improving customer acquisition, servicing, and retention.
Customer service can be just a matter of answering the phone, but a customer interaction case management system that breaks barriers between internal information silos and handles the randomness of human interactions, engages with customers in the way they want to be engaged – personally!
Good ECM tools will improve productivity… but more importantly, and more relevantly to life at the speed of an iPad, they help organizations engage with customers, with suppliers, with citizens, with you and me – all in ways that make us feel like we are talking to the local news agent who we visited every day for the last ten years.