YESTERDAY’S article introduced the concept of creating “customer intimacy”, that is, the degree to which the customer is emotionally connected to your organisation, your brand and your products.

So how can you tap this concept? Customer engagement can be a strategic instead of a tactical opportunity. The irony is that businesses often invest in robust research to analyse customers’ past behaviour to predict their future behaviour yet forget about customers when they are in the shop, so to speak.

Businesses assume that the standard service lines of product benefits will satisfy their needs. But how do businesses engage and win customers over wholeheartedly?

Customers are influenced by a vast variety of media, not forgetting the nimble yet fast spreading community voices of social media and online portals. With this proliferation, why then do we leave the engagement to chance? We need to engage and show customers why we matter in their lives and how we make that difference.

Launching a new branding campaign or a novel product is a good start but the differentiation is not sustainable. We need to use the customer engagement runway to intentionally build trust and credibility with the customer.

 

‘Firefly’ framework

“Firefly” is the framework that has helped organisations leverage and connect to that customer in a consistent and reliable manner, be it face to face or on the phone. With this framework, organisations can translate their brand assets into a strategic customer engagement process.

From strategy and systems to staffing and shared vision, a deliberate process must be embedded to establish trust with customers, one conversation at a time. This is engagement that is scalable and replicable.

This framework shares the seven elements in any customer encounter, applicable to both consumer and commercial markets. “Fire” seeks to understand the customer first, then “Fly” focuses on helping businesses to be understood by the customer.

These are simple but not simplistic guidelines that can help organisations refine their value proposition by enabling staff to restate the value from the customer’s point of view.

“F”, which stands for “Flex”, emphasises the need to reframe your value based on the different customer profiles, even for the tiniest difference. “I” stands for “Impress”, which focuses on how you build first good impressions because there is no second chance.

“R” and “E” stand for “Rapport” and “Engage” and this completes the acronym “Fire”. Many organisations stop short at value justification or brand building but fail to create a genuine personal connection with the customer, hence validating why customers prefer to shop online instead.

Rapport building enables you to connect and break the ice with customers while uncovering his needs during the engagement dialogue. We have observed how staff, with proper guidance, build rapport to smoothen the conversation with even difficult customers.

“Fire” softens the ground to connect with your customer’s world because you understand the customer as a person and not a transaction.

“Fly” provides the approach to uncover and meet the need. “F”, means “Flow”, which helps you to focus on the customer’s outcomes, not yours. This will help you pitch persuasively without using hard selling, over-the-top methods.

The final two letters in “Fly” are “L” and “Y”. They are the tipping point that determines the success of the dialogue. “L” stands for leverage differences — overturning objections into opportunities for clarification. Your organisation’s ability to handle differences will determine if the customer stays or goes away.

Finally, “Y” means “Yield”, which means to harvest or to submit. Here we highlight the need to create a win-win mindset and find common ground with the customer. How do you create a mutually beneficial solution and address his concerns? This is how you become a trusted brand that customers will never forget.

Uncover this latent competitive edge and design your unique engagement framework. When your organisation is wired to establish a meaningful engagement at all touch points, you have created a sustainable yet replicable competitive edge that others will find difficult to replicate. That is the strategic advantage we are talking about.

 

Article by Regina Chua, managing partner and founder of Discipline Dynamics, a customer engagement strategist. She has more than 25 years of corporate and consultancy experience.

 

She will speak on creating stronger stakeholder relations with the Firefly model at the Singapore Institute of Management on Sept 25. For inquiries and registration, e-mail euniceling@sim.edu.sg or call 6248-6136. Closing date for registration is Sept 18.