Category: Customer Engagement Subcategory: Voice of the Customer Awards won: Overall Customer Engagement category; Voice of the Customer subcategory; Financial Service sector; Impact criterion
Against a background of consumer disillusionment and distrust of financial companies, we want to ensure that being part of Engage Mutual is both a compelling and rewarding choice for our customers. How? By providing a unique and exclusive customer benefit – the Engage Foundation – which is making £1m available over 5 years for customers to use in order to help make their lives better. Whether to help themselves or their family (examples include replacing an ill-fitting front door; providing a much needed break for a carer), or to improve things in their community, our customers can decide. It’s their money.
In 2014 Engage launched a Foundation specifically for its customers to help make their lives better. Over 1,200 customers have already applied to benefit from this funding.
We’ve awarded 30 Personal Grants to help customers take a respite break, make home repairs and buy a much-needed mobility scooter. We’ll help 150 customers throughout 2014.
Of the 400 project put forwards by our customers, 256 are in the running for a Community Award. A public vote opened in April, with 8,000 votes in the first week.
By the end of 2014 we’ll have supported 11 customer communities and aim to have an impact on over 20,000 people’s lives.
The Foundation is solely for customers. They helped shape it and are actively involved in its growth.
By putting customers at the centre, they become advocates and help take our brand to a wider audience, thus attracting customers of tomorrow. Customers can apply for Community Awards which are decided on by a public vote (voters must register online). This allows customers to rally support and provides Engage with a new audience to connect with in future.
So we provide individual customer benefits as well as commercial benefits to ensure the long-term sustainability of the organisation that they own collectively.[/one_half_last]
A key learning in the months since the Foundation launched has been around striking a balance between customer support and process efficiency.
We’re a customer-owned organisation with industry-leading customer satisfaction, so it is important we make sure each customer is at the centre of what we do. However, helping customers on an individual basis (going that extra mile on every occasion) can conflict with the need to ensure processes are efficient and fair to everyone. In hindsight we’d set more structure around our contact strategy in this area – to be able to support customers, but not create a major admin backlog.
Sometimes businesses see commercial success and giving something back as two distinct things. A business model versus CSR.
But as a customer owned business we see these two things as very much interlinked. We want to be successful by making things better for our customers. By addressing the things that matter to our customers – we can create a more meaningful relationship with them, while starting a conversation with a wider group of people. And this conversation may in future lead to a product or service purchase.
Word-of-mouth marketing is nothing new. But creating genuine customers engagement that attracts customers of tomorrow is not easy. The Foundation shows that, although challenging, it is possible.[/one_half_last]