Customer Engagement

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Akolawole Shoremi

“The greatest problem with communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished.”
― George Shaw
Dear reader,
Have you ever felt a strong desire for a product or service? If yes, you were once an engaged customer who has experienced a close gap in business communication connection.

In the early month of April, I was a student of a practical class to experiment the importance of communication between brands and end users (consumers), where we realized the true influence of communication in marketing and marketing mix. In business, communication is not merely a key – it is a driving force to breaking the market, delivering expectations, building relationships for profit-making. Since the sole aim of marketing, advertising, and branding is to engage consumers, communication hence becomes a major factor to the success of any business.

Citing Steuart Britt, “doing business without advertising is like winking to a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing but nobody else knows.” In other words, without devising an effective means of engaging your potential customers, your business is as good as the mere idea it initially was.
In the practical class mentioned above, participants were distributed to groups where each group presented two players. Both players of each group, sitting back to back, were expected to carry out three stages of an assignment. At the first stage, one of a group player is handed a diagram of different but connected shapes. He is expected to read out the diagram while the other draws what he heard without a chance to ask any question. At the second stage, still without the drawer seeing the diagram, the drawer gets a chance to ask questions about what his co-player read to enable him improve his drawing interpretation. At the third level, each group players have a chance to face another, discuss and observe the diagram together while the drawer drew the diagram made available to them. At the end of the session, all groups did almost excellent in their diagrams at the last stage. There were obviously visible improvements from the first to the second to the third results of each group. At the point of processing the experiment, each group’s players felt fulfilled as there was an equal
understanding of demand and supply – such is what effective communication does between a business and its end users.

Communication can generally be verbal or non-verbal. And according to research, the non-verbal means outweighs the verbal. Among the non-verbal means is the tone of a message, signs, symbols, etc.
In business, engaging customers require the use of the verbal and non-vernal means to grow. This involves the right vision and mission statement, logos, mottoes, as well as articulated objectives. Only the right communication gives a brand a good reputation; a poor communication gives nothing but a bad image.
To drive customer engagement, the following are recommended:
1. Promote customer’s experience as a priority in product and service delivery.

2. Be creative with (1). According to Henry Ford, the world would have wanted faster horses if he had sought what they wanted only. He went ahead to offer a car.

3. Build a human-focused brand. A brand well communicated to people as a solution to their daily needs sooner becomes part of their lifestyle. They will pay more when they are really convinced it was made in their own best interest.

4. Build personal relationships. At a recent business summit, I witnessed a businessman who refused to honour an invitation to the podium because he was merely addressed as a Mr. I investigated the cause only to realize that he possessed a chieftain title which he expected to be addressed with. You may think, ‘and so?’ But there are so many ‘and so?’ in the business world as an example. A CEO will not wish to be addressed as a Manager. A Sales Supervisor will refuse to be called a Sales Representative. And there are many other examples. To have even thought that a businessman will be concerned about a chieftain title is enough to understand how the non-business world works. Do not generalize relationship except in group, at worst, where individual status is not obtainable. Address every customer or group in the best expectation. Inquire about customers’ welfare. Proof to them that your business is not merely in for profit – and it will end up being so if you are persistent with it.

5. Promote everything positive about your brand – feedback, products, services, CSR, and even periodical greetings – as much as possible via the new (social media) and traditional media.

As recommended by Stephen Covey, “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” This is the key to making your business clear.
We Can. We Will. We Must.

Akolawole is a Social Media and Customer Service Executive, a Columnist with Stockswatch newspaper, a Techie, Media geek, and an active Advocate on Entrepreneurship and nation building. He can be reached via akolshoremi@gmail.com and/or +2348085366022 (SMS only).

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