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Empowered by the explosion of social media channels and knowledge of the availability of their personal data, today’s customers aren’t satisfied with services not tailored to their tastes or products they can’t personalize. Of course, one customer asking for personalized attention isn’t a big ask, but when tens of thousands of individuals all across the globe start wanting elevated levels of care, many businesses suddenly find themselves scrambling to meet expectations.

Zeroing in on that sweet spot where customers feel understood but aren’t abruptly turned away by your use of their data can be a tricky stunt to pull off. To help your business strike the right balance, we recently sat down with analyst and president of The 56 Group, Paul Greenberg.

“I have a very succinct definition of customer engagement. It's the ongoing interaction between company and customer, and this is the key part, offered by the company, chosen by the customer.”

Greenberg’s position, in part, is that customers need to feel a modicum of control when it comes to their relationship with your business. Even if you’re 99 percent sure you know the exact product they’d like a discount on or the service they’d choose to add to their existing package, give them a choice from among multiple options. Making that choice themselves, Greenberg says, satisfies the customer’s self-interest, which should in turn make them pretty happy.

You, on the other hand, not only helped deepen your connection to that customer, but you received a new data point about them. It’s a simple change to make, but with each choice they make, your customers are giving you a better picture of who they are—data that the folks in your marketing, sales, and service departments will be able to use down the line.

For more of Paul Greenberg’s insights, check out the rest of our interview from the floor of Microsoft Envision.

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