Today, businesses of all sizes are re-thinking the way they deliver customer service and how they measure its success.  In fact, in an era defined by the rise of social media and e-commerce, traditional concepts of customer satisfaction and loyalty have been quickly replaced by the notion of customer engagement. Not surprisingly, according to Gallup, fully engaged customers represent a 23% premium in revenue and growth for an average company.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s consider what customer engagement is really all about: an article says customer engagement isn’t about customer touch points but rather ongoing, meaningful contact, which in turn drives sales. The engaged customer is one who builds an emotional attachment to a company and its brand, interacts regularly with it online, and promotes positive experiences through personal, social channels.  Simply put, engaged customers are not only loyal, they are also active marketers of your services and products – and your brand.

To achieve this kind of all-inclusive customer focus, companies are increasingly adding a Chief Customer Officer (CCO) to their C-suite. As CCO, my role is to enhance the customer experience at every level and every touch point, to re-imagine how our thousands of customers interact with us. At DHL Express, where service spans more than 220 countries, the mission of creating powerful customer experiences is a truly global endeavor including asserting a passionate, customer-centric attitude within every facet of our operation, and encouraging every DHL employee to take ownership and solve problems.

In pursuit of this goal, we have established what we term an “Insanely Customer-Centric Culture” (ICCC), to ensure every customer interaction delivers exceptional results. The mission is to make the experience so powerful that each customer becomes our advocate, motivated by the great results we have achieved for them, and by what we have achieved together in partnership.

While the role of the CCO is still evolving at companies across the globe, the Chief Customer Officer Council offers some interesting information on the subject including engagement strategies, targeted employee engagement and more. For businesses of all sizes, including a CCO in top-level management represents a critical step forward on the path toward redefining the transactional experience.

With more options than ever before, and more ways to find products and services anywhere in the world online, customers are in control. More than ever before, it is the actual experiences they have with your company – not simply your advertising, marketing or loyalty programs – that will determine whether or not a customer will do business with your brand.

In other words, every single experience counts.  At the same time, there are some essential steps that can help ensure that positive experiences actually translate into engaged and returning customers.

  1. First, companies must be proactive in their social media communications, establishing a true and honest dialogue with customers that encourages them to speak out on your behalf.
  2. Second, online tools and processes must be easy to access and easy to use, and your organization must be open and transparent to build trust.
  3. Third, your business must be not just a source of products or services, but a source of information and ideas.  Blogs are a great way to enlighten and inform businesses and share your expertise on innovation, leadership, growth strategies and more.

Effective customer engagement starts at the very top of an organization, spreads seamlessly throughout each department and by means of every employee, and is ultimately a reflection of the trust and respect you have for those you serve.