At Ecrion, we offer products that empower companies to engage with their customers. At the most basic level, we give a voice to the customer, a voice to the company, and connect them with communication channels. This is what CCM is all about. The customer’s experience emerges from these communications.
In any dialog, sometimes we can hear without listening, and sometimes we speak without considering. Customer experience management is the company’s process of listening and considering during a dialog with their customers.
Obviously, there is purpose to customer experience beyond small talk. Our CEM community frequently trumpets this purpose as “engagement”, but I’ve started to think that is the wrong battle cry.
I think, for CEM, a more powerful battle cry would be “motivate”. Let’s do a substitution on my opening line, and try this:
Better? I think so!
Nobody is more engaged with a brand than a protestor. In sporting events, competitors are fully engaged. Even soldiers are given “rules of engagement”. In fact, for most products on my desk and in my office, engagement is inversely proportional to my satisfaction. I only engage when there is a problem.
An engagement can be either positive or negative, a success or a failure. By what standard do we judge success or failure? Wouldn’t that be the better battle cry?
I recently attended a talk by the well-known TED-talk speaker and bestselling writer Daniel Pink. Motivation was the topic for the evening, as he expounded as he did in his book “Drive”. I was unsettled afterward, in thinking about CEM in terms of engagement. On the drive home, with this new information percolating in my thoughts, it seemed so apparent that the real purpose of any CEM initiative is to motivate a customer to move along in their journey. Companies, like public speakers and politicians, rely on the action of their audience to measure success. In dialogs such as these, success is proportional to the level of motivation delivered.
So, what does Daniel share that can help us motivate our customers? The obvious answer, to directly reward them, isn’t the sure fired answer we might think. If there is any complexity to the dialog, if there is any need to think through options, then motivation by reward may not work. Instead, motivation in these cases comes from a combination of purpose, mastery, and autonomy.
People are motivated when their efforts serve a purpose.
During the talk, Mr. Pink was focused on motivation within an office or family environment. In these cases, the “purpose” is shared and binds the group together. A business has a mission statement, and a family is always looking out for each other’s well-being. But, companies and their customers have different purposes. For example, I buy books in order to read them, but Amazon’s mission is to be “Earth’s most customer centric company”. We don’t share a purpose.
In applying the lesson from Mr. Pink, I came to the conclusion that a company can motivate me by empathizing with my purpose. What would this look like? Let me toss out a thought. If I buy “War and Peace” from Amazon, they could also motivate me to finish it. They may use some encouraging messages, and perhaps send a few links to study guides based on how far I’ve gotten. From a technology perspective, this wouldn’t be difficult to build into a Kindle. In the end, by completing more books in a shorter time, my purpose is served. Of course, they gain too, because not only do I need more books if I read them faster, but I’m likely to buy from them because I value their support.
I’m suggesting that in a successful CEM dialog, a company should recognize and highlight the customer’s purpose. Perhaps this is even a good working definition of “customer centric”.
Next, Mr. Pink talked about mastering something, or another way of looking at it, as progress toward a goal. People are motivated by accomplishment, and so are customers.
I’m a child of the arcade video game era, so I understand this just as well as anybody. If I had invested those pockets full of quarters into Microsoft, I’d be a millionaire. But, I kept getting better scores on Asteroids, and I kept dropping quarters. I was progressing, and I was a good customer.
Let’s look to a company that has this mastered. My neighbor was telling me about Fitbit the other day, and it was obvious that the progress monitor application was his biggest motivator. When his first device broke, he bought another without giving it a thought. He was advocating for Fitbit, and that was a direct result of the motivation they deliver along with the device: motivation based on progress.
Of course, motivating through progress is inseparable from motivating through purpose. A company that is customer-centric is investing in the customer’s progress within their purpose. The customer experience movement is all about decoupling the customer experience from the business process, which includes the notion of progress.
I think we would be surprised with the ways we could embrace “customer progress metrics” in CEM strategies, and use them as motivators.
Finally, Mr. Pink spoke of autonomy.
The whole idea of motivating customers through autonomy is a bit counter-intuitive when our framework is based on engagement. An engagement-based strategy is designed to keep customers moving forward on a “path”. In a sense, it is manipulative, because touchpoints are used to keep customers on this optimal pre-defined path.
My family enjoys a trip or two to Hershey Park every year. When we arrive, we go through the same gates as thousands of other visitors, but our journey through the park is unique to us. We decide which rides to ride, when to eat, and when to enjoy a show. The park manager’s role is to help us to get to where we want to go. They tell us about the attractions, they give us a map, and they post signage throughout the park so we know where we are, and how to move forward. We always leave having had a full day of fun, but according to our definition of fun.
On the other hand, the monorail ride is a bit like a cage. It is a long ride, and by the end, I’m bored and I want out. On rides, we lose autonomy. The roller coaster is too short for me, and too long for my daughter.
So what would it look like to apply Mr. Pink’s lesson in motivation through autonomy? Our CEM strategy would resemble the attractions, maps and signage within Hershey Park. Any given customer will have different purposes and work toward different goals. Flexibility on the communication channel is a big part of this, as millennials use their smart phones, and their grandparents use their envelopes and stamps.
But autonomy goes beyond this, as customers desire recognition as individuals. Moving from a “gold” to “platinum” membership isn’t relevant to a customer, although a business objective may state exactly that. Rather, a customer is looking for options specific to their situation and their purpose, and a company can motivate them as customers by giving them this flexibility.
Customer decisions that affect long-term flexibility remove autonomy, and if the science behind Mr. Pink’s presentation is correct, would be a negative motivator.
A motivated customer knows what products might be attractive to him, how that product fits with his purpose, and an easy path to buying it. CCM dialogs offer these capabilities, generating personalized and targeted messages as unique as each customer. The challenge is in managing the customer experience such that autonomy is balanced with business objectives.
My takeaway from my time with Daniel Pink had a big impact. Engagement is so 2015. 2016 all about motivation.
I’ve ordered “Drive”, and I’ll certainly continue to cogitate on motivation within CEM. Realistically, there is a chance the book will end up on my shelf without having completed it. It depends on how motivated I am.