Posted by: drewdice | November 7, 2013

Engage!

You know what it feels like when you are truly engaged – ‘in the zone’ or ‘on fire’. You also know what it feels like when others are truly engaged with you – or, when they aren’t.

I applaud organizations who put processes in place to create a more engaging experience between staff and customers – if there isn’t a tangible service difference, often, customer decisions will come down to price, and the race to the bottom is not the outcome for which most business leaders aspire.

That said, process alone will not create an engaging experience.

Case in point:

There is a local Rite Aid store where I go to pick up various odds and ends. Over the past year, the competitive landscape has increased, with the addition of a Target, CVS, 7-Eleven and other stores. So, we’ve seen Rite Aid give the store a cosmetic redesign, more robust product selection, and a focus on running specials and lower prices. At the same time, I think they’ve tried to improve their customer intimacy strategy – making that a differentiator from the competition. Here is one process they have put in place to land that intimacy strategy:

– When a customer enters the store, the cashier says ‘hello’ or ‘hi, how are you?’ – wanting to ensure that every customer is greeted. Not a bad process.

The challenge is that the cashiers don’t look up or make eye contact with the customers as they offer the greeting, and, when customers reply, in any way, there is no acknowledgement of that reply – no conversation at all, and so the impact is dramatically muted. In fact, I’d offer that Rite Aid is better off not making the initial greeting at all, as opposed to starting a dialogue and then not engaging when the customers actually do.

Valid intent. Poor execution. Point is this: process alone won’t shift the needle in customer engagement, loyalty, increased spending, referrals….any of it. Process needs to be partnered with clear intent and a focus on the actual outcome (engaged customer), so employees know how to think and what to do to accomplish the goal.

Think strategy first
Think desired outcomes next
Think people readiness and process next
Just as important as all of the above is to inspect! Observe and measure the impact, so changes can be made in driving results forward.

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