Amazing Customer Engagement Ideas: A Special Report from the IBM Amplify Conference


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Customer Focused

I recently attended the IBM Amplify (#IBMAmplify, #NewWayToEngage) conference in San Diego, CA where the focus was on customer engagement. IBM invited a select group of people they referred to as influencers. I was fortunate to be in this group, which included a dozen authors, bloggers, and thought leaders. The speakers at the general and breakout sessions filled my head with information, and it was especially refreshing and thought provoking to debrief with this group of influencers, so I thought it would be fun to summarize my top five takeaways from the conference. Now remember, I’m a customer service guy, so the high level technical concepts, while interesting, didn’t get me excited as much as some of the customer focused and engagement ideas.

  1. In this first session, I met Chis Heuer. He gave the perfect definition of the new standard of customer engagement: Engagement is the interaction with intention that goes beyond concern for the transaction. In other words, you are focused on the customer and not the sale. When that fast food restaurant tries to upsell you an order of fries with that sandwich and drink, they are interested in an incremental sales increase. It’s all about the money. While there’s nothing wrong with that, the alternative is to focus on the customer and not the sale. If you focus on the customer and his or her needs, the sale will follow. You may not get the small incremental sale of that particular transaction, but the customer-focused engagement wins you a long-term, loyal customer.
  1. In the first general session, Deepak Advani, the General Manager of IBM Commerce, mentioned Starbucks as the perfect example of a customer-focused company. He referenced Howard Schultz’s philosophy that Starbucks believes they are not in the coffee business serving people. They are in the people business serving coffee. Once again, the focus is on the customer over anything else.
  1. Jonah Berger, a professor at Wharton School of Business and an amazing speaker, talked about customer engagement that leads to customer loyalty. He showed the stats and facts that made the case for the importance and the power of word-of-mouth marketing. The opinions of friends, family members, and even strangers are more influential than some of the advertising that a company might pay for. In addition, he talked about the power of being top-of mind. If you can get a customer to think about you, they will also talk about you. His comment was spot on: If something is to be top of mind, it is likely to be tip-of-tongue.
  1. IBM arranged for me to spend some one-on-one time with Senior Product Strategist David Haucke. We talked about the technology they have created to track the customer’s journey and manage their experience. In the new era of how we market to our customers, you’ll be intrigued with this take-away. It’s not what we want to tell our customers. It’s what our customers want to us to tell them.

Let’s wrap up this list with one of my favorite comments from the conference.

  1. Alex Banavan was the host of the morning general session. His statement really sums up what the convention was all about. The 4P’s of Marketing are dead. There is just one C (not P) – the customer! With all of the cool technology and the discussions IT, analytics, automation, data and much more, in the end, the focus was on the customer engagement. It’s all about the customer.

These are just some of the tweets I highlighted from the IBM Amplify conference. View more of the tweets and insights on my latest Forbes article.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Shep Hyken
Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. As a customer service speaker and expert, Shep works with companies who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. He is a hall of fame speaker (National Speakers Association) and a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author.


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