By Rick Kirkham
Whatever your primary customer contact channel, customers need to be engaged throughout the journey and experience positive emotions. Only then can you positively influence the outcome of the interaction. After-all engaged customers who experience positive emotions exhibit positive behaviours, whilst disengaged customers who experience negative emotions exhibit negative behaviours.
It’s that simple. And is why we put our Engage to Influence™ methodology centre stage when it comes to designing customer journeys, developing feedback solutions and implementing CX technology for our clients. We understand that there are benefits all round when businesses get it right – financial benefits for them (in the form of loyal, repeat purchasing customers) and for customers (who get their enquiries and purchases dealt with quickly and professionally).
So how do you apply a methodology like this? First of all, we need to understand the methodology …
What is 'Engage to Influence'?
Engage-to-Influence™ is a methodology developed by Customer Touch Point. It’s underpinned by a belief that the only sustainable way to create customer journeys that work for the business and the customer, is to make them ‘win-win’. It’s ultimately about ensuring the customer is front of mind at every point, whilst the brand still benefits financially.
It hinges on the philosophy that to be truly successful in delivering excellent and effortless customer experiences, a business needs to positively engage customers so they can positively influence their behaviour at every point in the journey. They need to feel OK, you need to feel OK – any imbalance in this relationship of feelings spells disaster for any customer experience strategy and reduces return on investment.
Influence = “to positively influence the outcome of an interaction so that both parties benefit.”
The importance of emotion
So, we understand influence and engagement in this context, but emotion is inextricably linked and plays a crucial role. If we, as customers, feel positive emotions we’re more likely exhibit positive behaviours and also accept what we are being asked to do. Emotion is triggered from the very first word a customer hears or reads – if those words are in the right tone of voice and appropriate for the specific interaction, they engage the customer, generating a positive response and increasing your ability to influence the outcome.
Remember: emotion drives influence, influence drives behaviour.
That’s clear from the chart below from The Temkin Group.
If businesses can’t influence the customer journey positively, that feeling of trust and confidence is taken away, which often results in a much higher cost of service.
For example, a customer bypassing the IVR to speak to a live agent is far more costly than completing their journey using the automated IVR or by self-serving online. In fact, using industry figures the cost saving to be had from IVR self-serve Vs bypassing it to speak to an agent is more than £3.50 per customer interaction.
So, how do we influence customers?
Before looking at how we can go about applying the Engage to Influence™ methodology, we first of all need to understand why customers are not influenced.
If we go back to the example above of a customer bypassing the IVR, why did they do this? There are many reasons – all of which come down to not feeling positive emotion in the journey and therefore refusing to be influenced.
Real-life example of where it can go wrong
A customer tried to find the information she was looking for online but failed, so called the customer service line for help. However, the IVR didn’t give her an obvious option to choose from (adding to her frustration), so she ended up selecting the option to speak to an agent and the waits two minutes while being forced to listen to how much the company values her call alongside a 20 second loop of on-hold music.
By this time, the customer is feeling pretty negative about the whole experience and whilst she eventually resolves the query via the agent, she is now in such a rush she has no intention of completing an automated survey after the call.
In this example, the business has failed to engage the customer at three opportunities: online, via automated IVR and with a post-call survey. It is this that results in a loss of revenue and makes the contact much more expensive to handle than it could have been. This is a lose-lose scenario.
There are many other examples where customers have failed to engage in a customer experience programme and will nearly always result in greater cost for the business – sometimes losing customers entirely.
What does good look like?
We’ve illustrated here how positive feelings influence behaviour, using an IVR example, but it applies to any customer journey and any channel.
As you can see, caller behaviour is directly affected by how they feel throughout the journey. Generating the right emotions helps deliver callers to your teams in the best frame of mind.
How do you apply Engage to Influence™ practically?
Hopefully you now understand more about Engage to Influence™ and why it’s so important. But how do you apply it practically across your customer journeys?
Below are a few brief examples – all of which we apply when we design customer journeys for our clients.
- Tone of Voice – ensure your tone of voice is on-brand, aligns well with your audience and is consistent across channels.
- IVR Journeys – make sure the IVR options you offer your customers are easy to understand and low effort.
- Proactive Contact – predict when customers will need to make contact and get ahead of it (with SMS messages ahead of deliveries for example), creating positive associations and avoiding unnecessary and costly telephone contact.
- Welcome Emails – a simple way of making customers feel important and emotionally involved in your brand. One brand increased repeat purchases x4 by taking this approach.
Want to find out more?
If you’d like to understand the Engage to Influence™ methodology in more detail and how it can apply to your own business get in touch.
You may also be interested in our Customer Experience Audit, which follows the Engage to Influence™ methodology and analyses the end-to-end customer experience, highlighting what’s working well and what can be improved upon. Find out more and get in touch with us today.
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