It's Not You, It's Me

January 3, 2019

Editor’s Note: This guest post is part of a series by Amanda Slavin, CEO, CatalystCreativ. You can read her last post here

Have you ever dated someone who isn’t available? It’s a horrible feeling not knowing if the person you are dating is going to return your text, is going to “ghost you” (stop answering your calls), or may just be on tinder while you are on a date. Dating someone unavailable is one of the worst feelings, and yet this is how I generally feel about my daily interactions with customer service agents from the brands I am forced to interact with.

OK, what do I mean by this? On a daily basis, think about how many times you have to interact with brands. Whether it is someone on the street trying to get you to donate (especially in NYC), a customer service representative handing you your salad, or on the other end of the phone booking your travel, or perhaps it is a bot messaging you about your bank statement, we are interacting with brand representatives all day every day, and yet I never know what I’m actually going to get on the other end of the (phone/counter/computer). Is this the fault of the person on the other end? I do not think it is. I can only imagine how many people are yelling at customer service reps, (which would cause anyone to be in a bad mood), because of all of the issues which arise from massive companies they work for, but isn’t this a larger problem for us to look into? As our companies grow in scale, we should also put effort and energy into how we deal with our customers, because without customers, we cannot exist. The larger the company, it seems, the more problems; shouldn’t it be the bigger we get, the more money, time, energy and resources we have to solve customers’ problems?

My Company (CatalystCreativ) and I have analyzed customer behavior for the past 10 years, by adapting and testing an engagement framework (The Seventh Level) which guides companies on how to meaningfully connect with their customers. This framework is a blueprint for you as an organization, or customer service team, or HR team to develop a clear picture on 1)where your customer is on their engagement journey 2) how to move your customer into higher levels of engagement 3) how to keep them at higher levels of engagement, because higher engagement leads to higher achievement which means higher productivity and sales. I introduced this framework in my first LinkedIn Marketing Solutions post, but for this post specifically, I would like to focus on the first level of engagement.

The first level of the seventh level engagement framework is Disengagement. Think about when you start to date someone, as the example I mentioned above. On that first date, do you want the person you are sitting across from to A: Talk about themselves the entire time and ask nothing of you, and then slide the check across the table, or B: Ask you questions, actively listen, and get to know you. If you end up on a date like example A, I bet you, you will be looking around the room for an exit plan, and when your date tells you for the 19th time how incredible he/she is without asking anything about you, you will most likely roll your eyes, or not respond. This is the first level of the seventh level engagement framework, and it is called DISENGAGEMENT.

Disengagement occurs when you don’t have any interest in the conversation/ action at hand, and you ignore it/ avoid it. In marketing, this happens a lot. Think about how many times you scroll past an ad on social, or walk past that person on the street asking for a donation, or skip an ad while watching a show. Think about when you are speaking to a brand representative and you ask a question and they dodge the question by giving you an answer that does not help you.

The important thing to note with Disengagement is, there is still hope with someone who is disengaged, as Disengagement is the first level of the seven levels, and is not the opposite of engagement. Each level exists to guide you into determining the actions that will help you reach the next level so your customers don’t stay disengaged. If you are interested in walking through this process, we have a handy guide for you to download to ask the right questions so your customers don’t stay disengaged.

So here is my advice to any big company: start to ask questions about your customers, what do they need, what do they want, how can I make them feel heard and seen? How can I go the extra mile to do right by them? How do I start to ask questions about who my customer is, and what they care about, and where they are, rather than just talk about myself all day long, and ignore the needs of the people who keep my business running? Because I promise you, if you continue to operate in this way, your customers will soon break up with you.

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