Speaking about the importance of companies getting interactive with their customers, Professor D Sriram of Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai, presented a paper on Dimensions of Customer Engagement at the Eighth NASMEI Conference 2014 – An International Marketing Conference in India, held at the campus recently. About 100 papers were presented by professors from around the world on December 26 and 27, 2014.
“Customer Engagement primarily encompasses the involvement and emotional attachment a customer has towards a service or a product,” begins Prof Sriram, an Associate Professor and Associate Director-Admissions at Great Lakes.
Prof Sriram says that when firms look at value proposition, there are two approaches — utilitarian and hedonic aspects. “With respect to the utilitarian approach, consumers look at a product, its durability, reliability, warranty and such. Hedonic value arises when, say, we are proud of Apple products, when a brand find favours with a large group and such,” adds Sriram.
Prof Sriram feels that in a service setup, user experience plays a big role. In his paper, Prof Sriram looked at evaluation of a product by a customer and finds that user interaction plays a critical role in a brand reaching out to its customers. “Firms should have mechanisms in place for customers to reach them to clear their doubts. On their part, firms also bank on the same customer mechanism when it comes to introducing new schemes via emails, outbound calling, etc, in a bid to engage in post-purchase interactions,” he explains, adding that these interactions help customers be involved with the firm and establish an emotional connect. This emotional attachment transforms into brand loyalty and repeat engagement (repurchase), according to the professor.
While presenting his paper, Prof Sriram also took us through the research he had done. He prepared a semi-structured questionnaire in order to get inputs to support his research and tells us that the findings conformed to his proposals. Segregating involvement and emotional difference was a major roadblock, according to him. “I banked on netonography to establish results. It is a combination of ethnography (systematic study of people and cultures) and observation of the internet. For instance, I reviewed the Facebook and Twitter pages of Cafe Coffee Day to observe what feedback customers left, and if CCD took any constructive steps to address issues that the feedback had raised or engage with customers. The comments and other ways of user engagement presented a clear picture of involvement and emotional attachment of customers towards a particular brand,” he says.