Getting engaged: Take your client relationship to the next level

For B2B companies, “customer engagement” sounds like a warm and fuzzy concept that’s probably nice but not really important to your bottom line—which is what business is all about, right? Wrong. Customer engagement actually has a direct impact on your bottom line. According to Gallup, since the Great Recession (not to be confused with the Great Depression—that’s the one your grandpa never stops talking about) it’s become even more important.

Fact: Customers buy with both the head and the heart. Cue the sweet talk.

It’s true. When deciding what to buy and what not to buy, customers and companies put a lot of time and rational thought in—but they also get emotionally involved. Customers who are fully engaged invest even more time and emotion in buying, which makes business transactions more like relationships. And that’s a good thing.

Just ask global accounting and advisory firm CohnReznick. When you think accounting firm, you probably don’t think state-of-the-art Innovation Lab—but that’s just what CohnReznick created to get their clients involved in their problem-solving process. They know customer engagement is mission-critical so they built it into their process with a virtual “war room” that helps them overcome the limitations of a boring—sorry, we meant traditional—conference room. Customer engagement isn’t just something CohnReznick does. It’s how they work.

Four reasons to get your clients involved:

  1. Seeing problems from both sides helps you solve them faster.
  2. You can test drive new ideas quickly and inexpensively.
  3. Always know where they stand on new ideas or iterations.
  4. Everyone else is still working behind closed doors—be different!

CohnReznick discovered something that more and more businesses are embracing, especially in B2B: Being open about what you do and how you work wins people over and builds loyalty—which is the key to keeping customers for the long haul. It’s what we call radical transparency.

“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” Yeah, that’s not working.

It’s pretty simple, really: Radical transparency helps your clients trust you. Collaborating throughout the problem-solving or innovating process also speeds things up. Consulting firms who do it old school hold meetings to hear client concerns, then go away and try to guess which solutions the client will like. If they shoot down your “best ideas,” you have to go back to the drawing board and start all over. But if you work together from the beginning, you can find the best solutions more efficiently, which is always better for your bottom line. For CohnReznick, the Innovation Lab has made them 60% faster and 45% more cost-efficient. Sounds like smart business.

When you’re in it together, you can go a lot further.

Here’s another fun fact about customer engagement: People are less likely to shoot down an idea they played a part in creating. Everyone likes to feel important. Involving clients in the creative process gives them a sense of ownership over the end product or solution, which boosts buy-in and can prevent naysayers from dooming the whole project. We’ve all got egos that occasionally need stroking. We’re only human.

The bottom line is customer engagement is good for your bottom line. Engaged customers are more loyal. They buy more. And they feel more connected to your business or your brand, which adds value for everyone. So go ahead, pop the question, and turn clients into partners. Your mother will be thrilled.

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