Ways that Brands are Ruining Customer Engagement

“Your organization might be well-meaning but still ruining your customer’s day” – @jeanniecw

Customer engagement represents the lifeblood of every business. The modern enterprise must actively court and engage with customers in order to thrive in competitive markets marked by a multiplicity of brands, businesses, and enterprises. We must bear in mind that customer engagement is directly linked with customer dollars and therefore, a business should ideally work to escalate its customer engagement strategies. However, certain pitfalls do exist and every business must learn to navigate past such situations. Ruining customer engagement can cost a business millions of dollars in lost sales, the erosion of stock value, the flight of customers to the competition, a loss of corporate reputation, and may mark the business’s first step towards oblivion.

We may say that a brand is ruining customer engagement when the business takes its customers for granted. This behaviour may emerge when a brand or a business decides to rest on its laurels and the behaviour becomes part of a firm wide mind set. Consequently, key operating metrics may recede, the management cadre may get complacent, and the business may fall prey to its own inert mind set. Customers may no longer be excited about transacting with said business and may seek out alternatives in the open market. In the case of listed companies, slack business performance may invite public ire, regulatory scrutiny, investor disdain, etc. In such circumstances, the failure of said business enterprise is guaranteed, unless the customer experience becomes central to all business processes.

In modern times, customers operate in an information-rich world and the competent business enterprise should devise newer (and more effective) strategies to ignite conversations with customers in a bid to step up customer engagement. Social media platforms have provided business enterprises unprecedented means to better communicate with consumers, build stronger relationships, and boost brand loyalty. Similarly, e-commerce has become a primary source of revenue for many businesses. However, a slack approach to these business channels represents the ideal recipe for ruining customer engagement. We note that a lack of understanding of the dynamics that underpin business strategies on social media platforms can be equally disastrous. For instance, a software manufacturer and integrator may choose to ignore social media platforms. This studied approach to conducting business automatically excludes said business from emerging business opportunities, not to mention the severely curtailed visibility that attends an absence on social media. Competitors are likely to leverage the situation to forge ahead, while consumers and customers can easily migrate to more social media friendly business competitors.

Ethical lapses can form the lynchpin of ruining customer engagement. Every business enterprise should practice moral values and must uphold and promote fair business practices. The pursuit of business profit should ideally be tempered by the compass of morality. For instance, an automobile maker should undertake every possible measure to preserve the public trust invested in its brands. However, when the car manufacturer chooses to place profit above everything else, it runs the risk of destroying its brand reputation. The said manufacturer may choose to compromise on fuel efficiency standards or product quality standards in its pursuit of the pole position in the market. These actions may initiate a scandal that creates far reaching consequences, thereby causing irreparable damage to the brand image and ruining customer engagement. The consequences of such a course of action may include a heavy fine imposed by a competent authority, the loss of business and brand reputation, a precipitous drop in the stock price, and investor calls for an overhaul of top management.

An insensitive approach to emerging market trends can be viewed as a step closer to ruining customer engagement. Businesses operate in markets that can be considered to be living entities. Every market is subject to changing dynamics powered by customer preferences and choices, government policies, regulatory stances, currency values, and macro-economic factors, among others. Therefore, every enterprise must review its corporate policies and operational management systems to ensure that the aims of the enterprise remain coterminous with customer requirements. For instance, smartphone manufacturers cater to a major segment of the consumer electronics market. This segment is inherently fickle because consumers have access to a wide variety of branded gadgets and operating systems. The complacent manufacturer can ignore market preferences and market trends at its own peril. In this case, ruining customer engagement can lead to erosion in market share, ceding ground to competitors, losing years of cultivated brand reputation, among others. We could say that lax management oversight and inadequate quality control procedures could equally contribute to the spectacular collapse of a smartphone business.

Communication remains a central aspect of the mechanics that govern the commercial world and human society alike. Every commercial enterprise must put in place competent mechanisms to communicate with all stakeholders, such as investors, clients, customers, suppliers, etc. Therefore, a lack of communication (or the creation and propagation of garbled messages) can be instrumental in ruining customer engagement. Consider this: a manufacturer of cosmetics and personal care products must invest in systematic efforts to create a consistent brand image. This should be cultivated and nurtured over a period of time so that customers can identify with the brand, which helps the brand to establish its commercial moorings. We note that the consistency of the brand image is critical for its success. However, the said manufacturer not be careful in its attempts to maintain the brand image and may create slipshod products that fail to meet customer expectations. Consequently, a few instances of sub-standard products in the market can destroy the brand image, thereby ruining customer engagement. We may infer that the aftermath of such a brand disaster may include the loss of customers’ trust in the brand and its products. Damage control mechanisms can be activated, but the slur on the brand may persist in the public domain for a long time.

The management cadre of a business enterprise should take the initiative to boost customer engagement. This action should spring from a deep realization that the lack of such engagement could translate into missed market opportunities, among other problems. However, the top management could (inadvertently) contribute to ruining customer engagement by tardy communications practices and by creating gaps in business performance. This lacklustre approach to conducting business may create long term problems, such as customer attrition, inadequate workforce performance, lower revenue generated per customer, a general sense of customer dissatisfaction, and plunging performance metrics. We note that these issues represent serious business problems that deserve executive attention at the earliest. Management personnel must be made aware that customer engagement flows from the top of a business enterprise and this remains one of the immutable laws of the commercial world.

In the previous paragraphs, we have examined certain situations that can ruin the customer engagement strategy of a business enterprise. These scenarios and situations take time to develop before the corrosive consequences are set into action. We must bear in mind that these situations can be remedied by attentive business managers and brand managers that are driven by performance metrics. The room to improve business performance always exists, but the relevant management skills and genuine intent must be melded to pull back any business from the precipice of oblivion.

 

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