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Five ‘no regrets’ moves for superior customer engagement

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McKinsey Quarterly

Tom French, Laura LaBerge, Paul Magill

Customers are demanding very different kinds of relationships with companies. Here are some ways to jump-start customer engagement across your organization.

No organization can avoid coming to grips with the rapidly evolving behavior of consumers and business customers. They check prices at a keystroke and are increasingly selective about which brands share their lives. They form impressions from every encounter and post withering online reviews. As we noted in a McKinsey Quarterly article last year, these changes present significant organizational challenges, as well as opportunities. The biggest is that all of us have become marketers: the critical moments of interaction, or touch points, between companies and customers are increasingly spread across different parts of the organization, so customer engagement is now everyone’s responsibility.

In many companies, the marketing function is best placed to orchestrate customer engagement for the entire organization. To do so, the function must be pervasive—able to influence touch points it doesn’t directly control. Over the past year, we’ve seen a wide range of companies try to address customer engagement in more integrated ways, but many executives have told us they simply don’t know where to begin. The spectrum of organizational choices is broader than ever, and companies are struggling to determine the appropriate role of marketing for their business. What’s more, senior executives often view any internal effort by the marketing function as a “land grab.” Given the absence of solid return-on-investment data, they may express skepticism about marketing’s place in the new environment.

Although these challenges are difficult to overcome, companies need not be frozen in place while they wait for a complete picture of the answer to emerge. The five “no regrets” moves described below help senior executives to move beyond their function-by-function view of customer engagement and to improve the coordination of activities across the broad range of touch points they must care about. By widening the lens companies use to view customer-engagement needs, enabling more rapid responses, and building internal lines of communication, these steps create nimbler organizations with more pervasive marketing. (..)