I’m asked all the time how to grow customer engagement and my answer is usually shocking: Ask them, not me! If I’m not your customer how am I supposed to know what will engage them?

If we’re going to engage our customers (and employees) we should start by asking them in what ways would they like to be engaged. It’s a relationship, so approaching it with that understanding empowers us to connect on a deeper, more authentic level. Gone are the days in business that we can just keep trying to insert new engagement programs into our organization hoping that the next effort we try will work. It’s a bit like our engagement efforts make us out to play the part of a mad scientist hiding in a laboratory (office) concocting up a new magical potion (program) that will make customers more attracted to us!

If we’re going to see customers as human interactions, then the same principles apply as any other relationship:

Communication is more about listening than talking.

Taking time to ask the right questions and then having the patience to listen to our customers will speak volumes to them.

Connection is a human need.

Think of how you want to be treated as a customer and engage your customers from that perspective.

A main bedrock of relationship is authenticity.

When a customer knows you genuinely care about them they will be more forgiving when you don’t meet every expectation in your relationship.

Healthy relationships are built through generosity.

We should stop asking, “What can I get out of my customer?” and start asking, “How can I practice generosity in ways that exemplify my heart and how much I value them?”.

Seeing your customer as a human interaction allows you to practice generosity in bighearted ways. You will build a trusting relationship with your customer as you approach them not transaction-ally, but relationally. We should all begin reframing customer engagements as customer relationships simply because business is a human endeavor.

Growing trustworthy connections happen when we ask the right questions and listen to learn. Here’s a great question to start with… “What needs do you know you have and how can I best meet them?”

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