Engagement is the heart and soul of the customer relationship. Engaged customers are happy customers—they not only share their opinions and experiences, but also trust the vendor to respond in ways that deepen the buyer/seller relationship, increasing loyalty (not to mention repeat purchases) over time.
At Anaplan, we believe the essential prerequisite to engagement is a “Customer First” approach. Easy to say—most companies believe in focusing on the customer—but in practice, challenging to implement. Customer First, in order to succeed, must be cultural. It has to permeate the entire organization so that every employee sees her or his job through the lens of the customer experience.
Thanks to Anaplan’s senior management, Customer First has that kind of priority in our company. But for the marketing function in particular, it’s important to view Customer First as a customer lifecycle question. It’s not enough to focus on lead generation; marketers must consider the entire spectrum of touchpoints including relationship management, retention, and customer value creation.
At every turn, customer interests must be prioritized in order to achieve the engagement marketers look for. When establishing customer communities online, for example, it makes sense to appropriately open those communities to one’s own employees and business partners. Doing so allows those individuals to see customer concerns, share experiences and tips, and answer questions.
Account-based marketing is another way to gain insight into the complex interests of key accounts (care should be taken, however, to not overlook smaller, yet still loyal customers). Even surveys—a prime source of customer learning—need to be handled carefully. Survey requests from multiple departments should be combined in order to minimize survey fatigue. Incentives also help, to show customers that their time is valued.
At Anaplan we use our own product, the Anaplan Connected Planning platform, to improve our marketing efforts. Connected Planning allows people, data, and plans to seamlessly interact across an enterprise to better manage virtually any and all organizational planning. Working from a single platform, managers can draw from, and inform, all relevant areas of the business.
Connected Planning offers multiple benefits to marketers focused on engagement. Because it allows other departments to see the potential impact of upcoming campaigns, it builds support for marketing efforts and enables those departments to plan better. For marketing executives, Connected Planning provides a more holistic view of the customer, drawing in more data faster and from more sources. As data is rolled up and analyzed collaboratively and across functions, new insights are generated.
Finally, Connected Planning reduces lag time for campaign iteration, allowing marketing teams to adjust to customer priorities. Not only do customer feel they are being heard, but teams are better able to shift dollars as needed to places where campaigns are working well—or to places that need help.
The single source of truth that Connected Planning provides is a big advantage for maximizing customer engagement. Used effectively, it promotes a culture that continually puts the customer first—ensuring the success not only of the customer, but the business as well.