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If You Want to Engage Your Customers, First Help Them Learn

In this article, I share the secret to promoting true customer engagement - Learning.

I’ll unpack the core ideas behind customer engagement, why customers become disengaged, and how successful businesses can promote a culture of learning and engagement.

Bucky Dodd, Ph.D.
Every business wants highly engaged customers. Customers who are more engaged with a business are stronger brand ambassadors, more profitable, and more loyal than those customers who are not as engaged. 
 
The problem is that very few businesses know how to engage customers in successful and sustainable ways. 
 

What is Customer Engagement?

The term “customer engagement” can mean many different things to different business leaders. For some, it means customers are brand loyal. For others, there may be more financial outcomes to measure. Other leaders may describe customer engagement as simply responding to marketing messages in desirable ways. 
 
Customer engagement is more than behavior responses such as buying a product. Customer engagement is about creating an environment around customers where they can become a central part of the business identity. Engaged customers are drawn beyond a transaction to being a part of the business’ story. 
 

The Cost of Customer Disengagement

For many businesses, customer engagement means delivering a marketing message in a compelling form of media with the intent of generating some desirable result, such as a purchase. The primary form of this is most commonly information. 
 
Businesses are increasingly becoming more sophisticated with using social media to generate conversations and dialogue. However, very few businesses invest in growing a broader environment that supports practice, feedback, and a defined evidence of engagement.
 
Relying only on information delivery and social dialogue to promote customer engagement is costly. 
 
Businesses are missing out on more effective ways of leveraging all the tools at their disposal. When customers become disengaged, they forget. They begin seeing the information as noise, and the dialogue as lacking value. 
 

The Secret to Customer Engagement is Learning

How might we foster an environment where customers see themselves as part of the businesses’ success and want to be part of the journey?
 
Substantial marketing and advertising budgets can be waisted if the messages they communicate do not support a broader and more strategic customer engagement strategy.
 
At the core of any successful customer engagement effort is a strategy for how we help customers learn.This can include learning about new products, trying out a new service, getting feedback on how that service helped them, and seeing the evidence of their engagement.
 
Learning empowers customers to engage in ways that increase their investment with your business. 
 

How to Jump Start Your Customer Engagement Strategy

 
Here are a few simple steps you can take to begin transforming your businesses’ customer engagement strategy. 

Step 1:

Get to Know Your Customer - This sounds simple, but find ways to really listen to what your customers want from you. Make a list of these items and be the best at delivering value on those.

Step 2:

Diagnose your Current Customer Engagement Environment - Don’t try to change things if you don’t know what you’re changing. Spend some time and assess all the elements that your business relies on currently to engage customers. Think about the story you’re telling and how you are inviting customers along for the ride. 

Step 3:

Create a Customer Engagement Blueprint - Chart of vision for what you want your customers' engagement experience to be. Think about how your existing activities and investments connect, and identify potentially new elements needed to complete the customer engagement environment. 
 

Summary and Next Steps

Customer engagement is a learning activity.
 
How we help our customers learn about us, our products, and our story has a lot to do with the level of ownership and engagement they have with the business. 
 
When exploring ways to engage customers, first think about how you can help them learn.
 

About iLED

The Institute for Learning Environment Design is a public, non-profit university institute dedicated to helping businesses and non-profit organizations create learning experiences that make a difference. We’d love to learn more about your goals and explore how we can help you engage your customers through learning.  Discover our unique approach to growing engaged customers. 
 
 

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