Customer Engagement Will Accelerate to the Speed of Digital Business

September 09, 2015

Contributor: Christy Pettey

Advancements in digital technologies are dramatically lowering barriers of entry to digital business and adding new elements to the customer experience

The future of business is being led by customers. Today, they have the ability to rapidly and easily influence new and innovative business models. But how will customer strategies need to change in the fluid and increasingly complex world of digital business?

Opening the Gartner Customer 360 Summit, Don Scheibenreif, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, said the future of digital business is where people, businesses and the Internet of Things interact in a seamless dance.

Gartner's Don Scheibenreif says to put customers at the center of innovation.

Customers will start in small ways and see what happens. They may in fact become your competitors. This puts more pressure on organizations to re-think the way they engage their customers on these dimensions:

Active Engagement

Many organizations have been attempting to reduce the activity required to engage with customers to lower their costs. The results has been disengagement in the eyes of the customer.

“An actively engaged customer is more willing to participate with the organization through multiple channels, ranging from online self-service tools or mobile application to community participation or user group involvement,” said Mr. Scheibenreif.

Emotional Engagement

Emotional engagement, built from multiple factors, is often a more powerful influence than rational/physical elements in how a customer engages with an organization. Those customers who are emotionally engaged are more likely to complain less, buy more and contribute more than those who are not.

During the opening keynote at the Customer 360 Summit, Gartner's Don Scheibenreif explains how digital business is changing customer experiences.

Rational Engagement

Rational customer engagement is the involvement of a customer in accumulating lessons on a product or service and conducting additional fact-finding and research.

“The customer will decide what level of further relationship investment is warranted based on this research or general knowledge of the product or service, and they will then develop an appropriate depth and understanding of the product or service and the vendor,” said Mr. Scheibenreif.

“Their level of engagement will therefore by linked to rational elements associated with the product or service, such as value, quality, detail and innovation,” he said. “This elevated level of knowledge may then manifest itself in additional activities, such as participation in a self-service community, engaging in co-creation or a customer panel.”

Ethical Engagement

This type of engagement explores the deepest values and meanings by which people live. These aspects of life and human experience go beyond a purely materialistic view of the world. The organization follows a framework focused on how it views its responsibilities to employees, partners, customers, suppliers, the community and the world.

To be successful in the digital era, companies should engage with customers on all four levels to move from customer relationship management (CRM) as a technology strategy to CRM as a business and customer engagement strategy. Technology will clearly speed things up. However, the first step on that path is to become more human.

“Today, this is an obvious struggle for many enterprises because today’s IT organizations are largely machinist rather than humanist,” said Mr. Scheibenreif. “In the CRM world, digital machinism is automation at the expense of the customer experience. Being a humanist is the recognition of the employee intent, or in the case of the application provider supporting CRM, the customer intent. Ultimately, success in a digital business world lies in the balance.”  

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