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Customer Engagement: The Times They Are a Changin'

John McGee

For any government or enterprise engaging with a wide range of stakeholders, Bob Dylan’s anthem of social change has never rung so true.

Increasingly difficult legal and regulatory requirements, demand for personalized and on-demand interactions, multiple communication platforms and the economic downturn have all combined to create a remarkably complex environment.

To keep on top of it all, businesses and governments need systems in place that allow them to efficiently and effectively engage in print, online, mobile and social media platforms. They need to tailor their communications to individual need while responding in a rapid manner. In addition, organizations need to accurately track and catalog what has been said and when.

Led largely by the rapid advent of an increasingly connected society, changes in customer engagement over the past decade have exposed the weaknesses of the print-centric communications platforms that remained largely the same for decades. The response for most organizations, if there has been a response at all, has been to tack on outdated, print-based solutions to fulfil the request.


By adopting a solution that enables businesses to produce and deliver personal, convenient and relevant customer communications, companies can create a new standard for customer engagement. When doing so, organizations should keep the following couple of insights in mind, among many:

  • Structured communication isn’t the only tool in the box. Traditional and templated communication will likely always have its place but more sophistication is required. Customers don’t simply want information; they want engagements -- at a time and place of their choosing.
  • ROI is achievable. Through close analysis and the application of intelligent technology, it is possible to identify and address significant inefficiencies and omissions in the legacy platforms used to inform, capture and keep customers. Efficiently personalizing every customer interaction and enabling those interactions via any channel (print, online or mobile) generates excellent bottom line results.

Legacy systems remain, requiring separate actions based on the incoming nature of the communication. Often proprietary, a single platform is used for each mobile, SMS and online interaction. A lack of built-in and seamless integration inevitably leads to added complexity and the potential for failure. In the end, businesses can lose customers in the midst of trying to serve them.

Companies need to take a step back and evaluate their methods of engagement to keep up with this changing landscape. Identifying what matters most to a customer can quickly alter an approach and bring a business into the new age of customer communications.

Customers value the same things as the companies that court them: a meaningful, but low-maintenance relationship enabled by high-quality and productive communication. Today, the most innovative and successful customer engagement companies understand that communication isn’t a one way street; it’s an interaction and enabling that interaction is the ‘bedrock’ of any long-term relationship. It is the customers who will revitalize business; and serving them well produces answers to problems we didn’t think possible.

In order to truly be effective, organizations need to realize a fundamental truth relating to the business/customer relationship: every customer communication counts. When this is accomplished, businesses will begin to conquer the complex environment that once was customer engagement and keep up with the changing times.