In six years of innovating, collaborating, and executing with industry-leading companies like Owens Corning, GE, Bayer, Amgen, CDW, and Philips, the Valkre team and I have gained significant insight on what it takes to improve Customer Engagement. Before I share those insights, I want to start with a definition.
What exactly is Customer Engagement? Patrick Stakenas of Gartner defines Customer Engagement Management as: “the attracting and influencing of customers and potential customers in order to hold their attention and encourage them to participate in a long-term relationship.” Said another way, when customers understand the value of the relationship with a company, they will then buy more at higher prices and with less cost to serve…and they will be eager to do it.
However, Gartner estimates that customer engagement initiatives are underway at only 15% of Global 1000 organizations. Of those organizations, 95% measure customer engagement through customer satisfaction surveys, which only identify current issues rather than new opportunities for growth. Worse yet, only a few of those companies make use of the lessons learned and commit enough resources to manage and improve customer issues holistically.
There is a massive gap and a massive opportunity. The gap is between the business need for customer engagement and what most companies are actually doing to fulfill that need. The opportunity is to get ahead of competitors with better customer engagement and stay ahead by making it part of how a company does business.
Valkre’s View of Customer Engagement
The power in business-to-business has shifted from sellers to buyers, as new technologies have enabled global competitors to spring up everywhere. Therefore, the currency of business has changed from knowledge to insight—customer insight. In this context, we at Valkre have learned a few things about Customer Engagement.
The first insight is that Customer Engagement is squarely focused on the customer’s engagement with you, not the other way around. It is about the customer knowing that you are serious about their business and are ready to invest in their future growth. Consequently, an engaged customer knows:
- How your offerings are different than competitive alternatives and how that is going to help them make more money
- That you understand their business challenges…in a manner that goes well beyond a scratch-the-surface survey
- How you are willing to help them with those challenges and commit to execute with speed
None of these tenets are new. Companies work on them all of the time. As such, the second insight is that these tenets are not wired together very well into any kind of system, where you can push the throttle and make engagement happen faster. We believe the activity associated with creating Customer Engagement needs to happen with speed and structure in order to stay ahead of competition.
Lack of Good Customer Engagement Platforms in B2B
We set out six years ago to build a system that will help B2B companies create Customer Engagement in a cost-effective, scalable manner. Today,RENDER, is a SaaS platform for creating Customer Engagement. We designed RENDER with your customer in mind and to seamlessly integrate into how you already work.
When we started building RENDER, we wanted to create structure around a true Customer Engagement object. There are several big objects that create connections between a company and it’s customers but none help create true Customer Engagement:
- CRM has been built on the functional relationships between company and customer
- Marketing Automation has been built on the lead generation activity between company and potential new customers
- ERP systems have been built on the transactions between company and customer
- Content Management Systems have been built on the sales and marketing collateral a company publishes for customers
All of these systems are inside-out and provide none of the critical Customer Engagement criteria per our definition and modern market changes. We wanted to align our platform with a core activity that existed between customer and company. The object we determined, that sits squarely in the middle, is a customer wants to engage a company on is the Value Proposition.
RENDER: the Value Proposition Platform that Increases Customer Engagement
In our work with industry-leading companies to engage their customers, we have ascertained that the three tenets of Customer Engagement have the Value Proposition right at the center of it all. So we built a platform that creates speed and structure in activities focused on those three tenets, turning the Value Proposition into a growth asset.
In future posts, I will describe how RENDER increases Customer Engagement....how, as a system to sell the Value Proposition and listen to customers’ feedback in order to improve it, RENDER enables companies to increase their customers’ engagement.