Monthly Archives: June 2011

How to become an engaged customer

‘Woo-hoo!’; I’m precious and much sought after.  I’ve not felt this much in demand since I owned the only football in the playground.  Shop assistants grease around me and make outrageous offers:  They want to be my friend on Facebook:  I can be in ‘the gang’.  I’m even ‘valued’ (No, not like an antique… Cheek!).
And how do I feel about this adulation?  I’m not bothered.
You see they haven’t quite got it right. 
Don’t get me wrong I am a customer who is happy to engage.  Every year I make a special effort to go to ‘The Langbury’ at Blue Anchor Bay, this has got to be the best hotel experience in the world and I’ve stayed in a lot. I recommend it to everyone and even hand out their business cards.
If you want a bike then the only place to go is ‘Race Scene’ in Barnsley; my bike supplier.  I get beautiful Italian cycling products from highly knowledgeable people; what more could I want? As I ride around the Peak District I’m a moving billboard, resplendent in my ‘Race Scene’ jersey, shorts, matching socks and water bottles. I’m not alone; there are lots of other cyclists pounding the local hills in similar kit.
So how have I become an engaged customer?
Firstly, it’s a rational thing:  Can I have what I want, have it the way I want it and at a time I want it?  Are they easy to do business with and in a way I prefer? 
Secondly, it’s emotional and this is what makes the difference and takes me from a regular customer to an engaged customer. How much do I identify with the company; do they share my values?  Do they know me and value me, not only as a customer but as an individual?  Do they welcome my opinion and make it possible for me to have my say?
Some organisations do this naturally, some try to manufacture it and fail, others work hard to become the sort of people I like.
And it is worth the hard work as once I have chosen to become an engaged customer you can be assured that I will be loyal and rarely take my custom elsewhere.  I will have no hesitation in recommending your services to anyone who will listen. I’m happy to give you feedback and let you know how I want to use your service, knowing that you will listen and will accommodate my whims as far as you can.  Your organisation is mine, part of my lifestyle, part of my identity.
Who knows, I might even go as far as showing my devotion by getting your logo as a tattoo. Yes, that’s how much I love ‘Codrophenia’, my local chip shop!

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Becoming the Disengaged Customer

My car is very clever in helping me look after it’s every need with interesting bleeps and flashing indicator lights.  In this way I can put in fuel before we grind to a halt, top up with oil, fill the washer and organise a service.  We are both happy with the arrangement. It works well.  However it seems that this isn’t enough.  All of a sudden the garage has discovered customer experience.
When we arrived in the service centre car park we were met by no lesser figure than the manager.  He wished me a pleasant day and pointed towards the reception area.  He was being slightly too friendly. Rather different from the last time I clapped eyes on his sharp suit when he offered me peanuts in part exchange for my old vehicle.
The receptionist was brilliant, but then again, she always has been.  I left for home to wait for the mechanics to do their job. 
As usual I received a phone call to tell me that my brake pads were 30% worn and other stuff which would cost £3000 to put right, including £30 to unblock a windscreen washer pipe.  All of which I respectfully declined.
When I returned to collect my car it seems that under the new ‘customer experience’ regime taking my money was no longer enough.  I was urged by the manager to follow them on Twitter and join their ’Facebook’ community if I was really to have the best possible experience.  Not long after I received an SMS text inviting me down to the showroom to have a ‘special’ chat with their salesperson about a new car model.  Soon to be followed by a courtesy phone call asking if I was still OK because at my last car service there was a blocked windscreen washer pipe that I declined to have fixed; touching concern for my safety. 

Why do I feel these are just marketing ploys?  How come I’m left thinking these are not genuine invitations to become involved?  What makes me feel like this is a new bandwagon which has my cash at heart and not my welfare?
The Manager doesn’t get it.  He sees this effort as a sales tactic to ‘make’ me a loyal customer. I was engaged by a genuine, skilled receptionist and my clever car. Now I go to ‘my’ Kwik Fit for a better deal on servicing and parts, and really genuine, honest people, who are interested in tyres and shock absorbers, not Twittering about it.