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“If companies did whatever customers wanted, they’d go bankrupt in a heartbeat.” CRM expert Paul Greenberg, author of CRM at the Speed of Light, understands exactly how businesses need to engage their customers—and not lose their shirts doing it. “Customer engagement boils down to one simple thing,” Greenberg explains. “It’s the ongoing interactions between the company and the customer, offered by the company, and chosen by the customer.”

Step 1: Know the customer
Companies need to learn as much as they can about their customers, Greenberg says. “The process is easy. You’ll never be able to give every customer exactly what he or she wants. But what you can do is understand what all of your customers have in common.”

Greenberg explains that, despite their differences, your customers will generally want most of the same things. “Measure 250 things. Maybe you’ll discover that your customers all have 20 of those things in common.” Understanding these overlaps is the first step to improving customer engagement.

Step 2: Determine the company offering (and it better be a choice)
“The reason you want to understand these overlaps is that you need to offer customers a choice—how they want to engage with you,” Greenberg continues. “That way, the customers control the interaction.”

For example, your data may show that 95 percent of your customers eventually want information about how to change their billing address. Whether they call, check your website, Tweet your social team, or email your contact@yourcompany.com email address, they’ll have a choice, and feel like they’re steering. And that choice doesn’t need to be the channel—it might be how they change their address too. “The company controls the costs,” Greenberg says, “because it’s not providing everything—just the things all its customers want.”

Step 3: Keep it ongoing
Customers won’t always come back for more, but companies should be prepared for that “when.” The process, Greenberg says, is iterative: gather more data (from every interaction), find more common ground, and update the choices you offer as you go.

“As long as the customer feels valued—as long as the customer feels like they’re being given choices to do what they want—they’ll come back,” Greenberg says.

“It doesn’t have to be some intense thing.”

For more information about how CRM can help collect data and insights to improve customer engagement, tune in to Paul Greenberg’s online webinar CRM Changes … Again.

Watch Paul's webinar and take the first step to better engagement