External Engagement: Clients – PART II
n such a hyper-connected world, we all are receiving and transmitting many pieces of information simultaneously. In short, we participate. On social channels and corporate blogs, companies and their actions are investigated, dismantled, remixed and mashed-up by audiences. It is clear that people are extremely engaged with each other, but are they happy to engage with brands and companies?
Other questions are following: why do people spend time and energy on some things, rejecting others? An engaged public is a must for any organisation, but commitment is a personal choice. People choose to engage and their determination brings attention, fondness and, lastly, purchases. Do we really know how to feed our audience and our clients with engaging content?
Corporate engagement expresses the concept of union between companies and clients, as well as towards its employees. Interpersonal relationships are a stronger element of integration than any hierarchical and control system, because those relations are based not only on trust, but even more on customer care and client service.
Once again, awareness, trust, communication and listening are keys to develop a strong relationship.
External engagement requires an emotional connection between brand/organisation and each client. That connection leads to advocacy, “shares”, attention, “likes”, “follows” and other product-associated and service-related actions – this is the preparatory action to lead towards future purchases. From the customer’s point of view, engagement means willingness to go beyond the mere utilitarian act of ‘paying for something’, moving to a more personal relationship-building behaviour.
Above all, what really helps to create a contact and communication with the customer are storytelling, sharing values and common ethics. Humans have told stories since the dawn of time. Using guttural sounds and drawings first, pictograms and ideograms later, then by the alphabet, moving gradually to complex languages, storytelling is as old as human civilisation and it always accompanies human development. We could think of caves of Altamira and Lascaux, the hunting scenes that remain, or we could move to Greek bards and courteous troubadours, from cosmogony to epic poems; every story they tell has protagonists, facts and exemplary events to identify with or to take distance to. Each story offers choices, emotions and memories.
It skilfully proves that as storytelling was the preferred form to impart historical facts and ancient knowledge, so it can pass company identity down, helping in building and sharing a system of values and ideas.
Corporate storytelling is a continuous tale that offers clients a real picture. Brand awareness is increased by storytelling: clients and customers are happy to know who is behind a company name, why a company does what it does, and how it came into business. The market place needs to meet those people behind the brand and be able to trust it. Showing the real identity, the real value, a company engages its target audience and creates a community.
Motivation and willingness to work together complete the engagement.
Engagement combines experience with expectation. From the customer’s point of view, it happens when expectations are fully met thanks to a company’s experience and demonstrated competence. From the company’s point of view, any decision is determined by previous experience, but also by future expectations. It is crucial to be able to identify the right target, create dialogue and ‘listening’, reminding that there will always be an unwritten pact of mutual trust, based on honesty and confidence.
Embracing positivity of past experiences and maintenance of a high level of expectation for the future is the last, and fundamental, secret for a long-term engagement.