Train Yourself First, then Train Your Customers

Dino_You-Lookin-at-MeI have a dog with a slight behavioral problem. His name is Dino and he’s a Siberian Husky who doesn’t much care for the snow (he doesn’t like to get his feet wet). He loves lying in the sun on our wood deck in the summer as if he might be able to tan the white fur of his belly. But those are just his quirks, not his behavioral problem. His problem is that he shows his dominance by peeing on the furniture.

My wife and I know what to do to curb that behavior, but it requires a great deal of patience, discipline and teamwork. We have to be on the same page all the time. We need to make sure that he understands his position in the pack (which is right beneath me). But sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes I don’t want to sit on the floor to pet him so I invite him up on the couch (“just this once” I tell myself), and the next thing I know he’s inviting himself up. A week later, he’s jumping up on the bed, but that’s where I draw the line. I command him down and make him lie on his dog bed a few feet away. He goes right to sleep. Problem solved.

But in the morning there’s a puddle of urine at the foot of my bed, and I know it’s not really his fault. It’s mine. I’m the one who is not disciplined enough to keep him off the furniture, which in turn makes him think that he’s moved up in the pack.

Keep that lesson in mind when you are working on your customer engagement strategies. IBM published some research on social media back in 2011, and one of the most salient points was the disconnect between what companies thought customers want from social versus what customers actually want. Companies thought customers wanted learn about products or to be a part of a community. But what customers actually want are discounts.

This bit of knowledge provides us with a training tool that we can use to generate customer engagement. For example, using a limited-time promo like a “deal of the day” or a “weekly special” that occurs on the same day each week can provide incentive for your customer to return on a regular basis. But that is just a way to get them to your page. That’s the easy part. The difficult part is discovering what truly motivates your customers beyond those discounts. It’s hard work and it takes time, patience, and discipline. You’ll need to monitor customer interactions across multiple social platforms. It’s so much easier to just hand out a coupon and pump up your stats, just like it’s easier for me to just clean up a little dog pee rather than monitoring Dino’s behavior 24/7. But if I stick with the training, I can change Dino’s motivation, and in the long run our relationship will be much better because of it. And if you put in the work, you can be rewarded with much stronger customer relationships as well.

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