Home > CRM, Customer Service > How I Think About Things

How I Think About Things

I am not trying to define, nor redefine – been there done that. What I am doing is to simply share how I think about things.

Customer Engagement

Customer Engagement is the extent to which an organization commits, both emotionally and intellectually, to communicating and interacting with their customers, relative to accomplishing shared goals driven by customer need. Engagement can be seen as a heightened level of interaction and ownership where the company wants to do whatever they can for the benefit of the customer.

Customer Relationship (Management)

Customer Relationship (Management) is the proper balance of people, process and technology; practice and strategy required to meet the customer centric goals and objectives of your business. It needs to provide all business stakeholders the data, information and insights regarding current, past and future customers (people) and the ability to interact, inform and engage (see above) with these same people.  

If you are interested in what led me to this, feel free to watch a short video with Paul Greenberg, and my detailed thoughts based on the video interview. What are your thoughts? To keep things balanced, should there be another word between ‘Customer’ and ‘Engagement’? Maybe Centric, Focused, Service?

  1. April 24, 2012 at 11:03 am

    This is not really sounding right to me:

    “Engagement can be seen as a heightened level of interaction and ownership where the company wants to do whatever they can for the benefit of the customer.”

    you are simply making reference to a one-way relationship where the customer wins explicitly and are expecting an implicit value in return for the company. for the definition, and the concept, to work engagement has to have a 2-way value proposition attached.

    i would revise it to either make an explicit value prop for both, or — not that’s it. it has to be a 2-way value prop, explicit in both directions to make sense. win-win as they say.

  2. Mitch Lieberman
    April 24, 2012 at 11:21 am


    Valid point (like you needed me to say that). The struggle is not to make something so broad that it becomes fluffy, nor prescriptive (then it is ignored). My thought process, for right or wrong, is to think about each side, then try to put the two together. You point is well taken, there is the responsibility of the customer – the question then becomes is it one thought -or an additional thought which begins “Company Engagement”? – an explicit value prop for both. You seem not to like that one – curious why, as it could be more explicit (at least in my mind).


    • April 24, 2012 at 11:29 am

      not a big fan of the word engagement as it denotes a premeditated intent to do something. I’d prefer purposeful experiences (or experiences alone, actually) to define what happens, that way you can define them as two one-way components (with different value and purpose for each) and not feel like they need to “meet” somewhere in the middle.

      what do you think?

      • Mitch Lieberman
        April 25, 2012 at 5:03 am

        I did some early morning research. It seems that I might have it a bit backwards, based on the way some reference refer to engagement. The way I have it written, ‘customer engagement’ needs to be from the perspective of the customer, not the company – that I can fix. I understand your point about premeditation, but not that it fits. I can see engagement speaking more towards commitment to something – either the experience a conversation or maybe even product or brand (co-creation). It still begs the question of whether it is one defn or two….

  3. grahamrhill
    April 24, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Hi Mitch

    I feel your pain.

    The meaning of words is important if we are to have meaningful conversations. The meaning of words does evolve over time, but we should be careful not to succumb to laziness and misuse words that mean something else. Words can so quickly get bastardised through such misuse. The blogosphere with its emphasis on quantity rather than quality seems to speed up this process.

    Both words you mention – relationship and engagement – have become heavily distorted through misuse. Companies routinely talk about developing ‘relationships’ with their customers, despite the overwhelming evidence that customers don’t want them with companies and that companies can’t develop them with customers anyway. Liljander & Roos in a paper about ‘Customer-relationship Levels – From Spurious to True Relationships’ showed that only about 5% of customers had a true relationship with an automotive dealership – a high involvement product more likely to lead to a relationship – and the majority of these were with people they knew. So much for relationships!

    As Verhoef et al discuss in a paper on ‘Customer Engagement as a New Perspective on Customer Management’, customer engagement takes this a step further and involves a sense of affinity towards a brand and by implication, the company that provides it. But developing brand affinity generally requires a long track record of relentless delivery of the brand’s promise. A recent study on ‘Closing the Delivery Gap’ by Bain & Co highlights that although 80% of executives believe their companies deliver a superior customer experience, only 8% of their customers agree. So much for engagement!

    The problem with the words relationship and engagement is that they distract companies from focussing on the things that create them in the first place. They talk a lot about relationships but they don’t take care to do all the things that create the commitment and trust that lead towards true relationships. And they talk about building engagement with customers, but they don’t bother to deliver hardly any of their expensively branded promises.

    Back to the drawing board.

    Graham Hill
    Customer-centric Innovator

    • Mitch Lieberman
      April 25, 2012 at 5:05 am



      Your thoughts and references are quite helpful to me and my own thinking. The next step is to figure out a way to help others understand it better – or maybe simply sharing my own thoughts as a perspective is enough to set the foundation for the conversation.


  4. grahamrhill
    April 25, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Hi Mitch

    I am working on a Manifesto for Service Business (like my Manifesto for Social Business from 2009) that shows how the foundational principles of service-dominant logic relate through improved service operations to stronger relationships, customer engagement and profitable loyalty.

    Academics like Steve Vargo & Bob Lusch have provided the foundations and Irene Ng has shown how they can be applied to build complex business systems. It is up to the rest of us mere mortals to do the same for the more striaght-forward service systems in our companies.

    I hope that the forthcoming Manifesto will help shed a little light onto the service-dominant logic foundations upon which all customer-oriented businesses should be built.

    Graham Hill
    Customer-centric Innovator

  5. April 25, 2012 at 10:22 am

    I am always enlightened when I see a discussion involving Mitch, Esteban, and Graham. Seriously.

    Mitch, I like both definitions. Speaking as someone who lives at the intersection where CRM/CX/SCRM strategy meets tactical implementation, I can use those definitions when conversing with my peers who are in Ops and othe departments.

    Operationally, these work for me. But I also see the value in further refining these definitions. Especially if you can increase clarity and brevity.

    I agree with Graham that certain words have been misused. That may be the understatement of the week.

    Where I disagree with Graham is that I believe relationships are important for some segments of an organization’s customer base. Yes, I believe that the majority of customers don’t want relationships. However, I also believe that there are those who passionately love a product or brand and who do want to have relationships that are an integral part of the customer experience for them.

    One of the ways we segment our customers is by engagement over the last 36 months. We have divided them into low, medium, and high affinity based upon their shared likes and different needs. It’s a true pyramid with a small number of highs, a larger number of mediums, and a huge base of lows. Their life time value drops as their affinity drops. We are currently developing strategies for each group.(Low affinity strategy can best be described as a “Hands-off” approach.)

    Graham, I can look at the lifetime value of each segment and see the ROI for cultivating relationships with that smallest segment.Therefore, the question is, how can we move willing customers up the pyramid? (“Willing” meaning those who are receptive to increased engagement.)


    • Mitch Lieberman
      April 25, 2012 at 3:38 pm


      Thanks and very interesting. I was thinking about modifying my words (definition, thinking whatever to call them) inline in this post. I asked some folks and the suggestion was to summarize the discussion in a follow-up post.

      Your input is great here – refreshing as well. There is another ‘engagement’ conversation taking place and the context of your thoughts “past 36 months” seems to be about 35 and 1/2 months longer than many others are thinking about it – it is not all about marketing. Thanks for that, it is refreshing.

      To your question – and hopefully GH will chime in – is if they are willing, what is the blocker? Do you have a sense of what the blockers might be?

      Cheers – Mitch

  6. April 26, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    Mitch, thanks for sparking this discussion. I hope I’ve been able to add some value by blogging about it. http://bit.ly/IfFlQI

  7. April 28, 2012 at 2:01 am

    Reblogged this on TechBusinessNotes.

  1. April 26, 2012 at 9:32 pm

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