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Engage Your Customers by Putting Them to Work
By: Janet Kalandranis
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Customer engagement — it’s the phrase that’s been tossed around for decades and now has come more seriously into the spotlight. These words are no longer a figure of speech or words you associate with a tactic; they now have promise and measure, making them real. If engagement is the ability to ensure that a customer is thoroughly connected to a brand, then what better way to engage them than by putting them to work? It’s a secret kind of work, though; one that benefits the brand and allows customers to feel as though there is exclusivity in what they do.

Customers want to feel “in-the-know” with brands that are on their Top 10 lists. The more they know, the more they can relay, and the more likely this information is truthful and believable. McDonald’s is one brand that has figured out this formula by putting customers to work and having this benefit both the brand and customer engagement. With its Moms’ Quality Correspondents program, McDonald’s is giving engaged and interested customers (parents) an inside look into the brand and allowing them to honestly report this information to peers. It’s another channel and opportunity for the brand to showcase very specific messages and stay extremely relevant and believable, since these are delivered to the public by one of their own. Customers are tired of hearing companies talk; they want to hear information that’s uncovered in a real way by real people.

There are also risks involved when giving customers the opportunity to speak for a brand. Companies have to be willing to take the good with the bad and understand that there is nothing “off limits” when the customer does the work. Your new employees aren’t going to follow brand standards, push important initiatives to the forefront, or keep quiet about things that bother them. But a brand gains much more when they give customers this voice — there is firsthand insight into what matters to a customer. All those focus groups and surveys are now more real and more real-time to provide brands with information on their next move.

These tactics now hold a steady spot in most marketing plans; social media, online community groups, brand ambassadors. Customers not only expect this from brands today, but they like the connection it creates with their most favorite companies. The inside look and exclusive benefits create increased customer engagement that becomes a win/win for both sides. However, each brand must be able to manage its newfound employees and embrace this open structure that might just bring about a new idea of success.

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About the Author
Janet Kalandranis is here to give you all the little brand thoughts that run through her head with a little dash of spice. Find her online here.
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