The secret to customer engagement

It's simple: Generosity, loyalty, and care.

Sending a gift should be easy. These days one can procure pretty much anything, from anywhere, at any time, and if you want to send somebody something it can be done in a few taps and swift clicks.

However, the foolish martyr in me wonders if the ease lessens the thought? Is the level of care proportional to the effort?

Is ease careless?

Back in the 1800s, a caring gift was a homemade gift. As time and technology progressed, the publishing industry was one of the first to pioneer the concept of giving something you hadn’t made yourself. At the time it was seen as strange, the idea that you would present a mass-produced item as a gift. To counter this perception, book publishers decided to print an inscription page where the gifter could inscribe their name and a personal note to say why they had chosen this book for this person, infusing the gift with care.

The historian Cindy Dickinson notes that this “presentation page” was incredibly important to gift-givers who were still “wary of mass commercialization.” I don’t think we have changed all that much, there is still a place for calling out what could cynically be seen as the commercialisation of sincerity. However, I am not sure that genuine care can be so easily diluted: it is fundamental, human and I would even go so far as to call it progressive. Its absence is always noted.

bobby Kennedy

Bobby Kennedy during his 1968 presidential run (image: Andrew Saks, Getty)

Caring begets care.

Bobby Kennedy, in his presidential campaign of ’68, ran upon the idea of care, upon the belief that everything that “makes life worthwhile” had little to do with what could be measured, and more to do with the magic of everyday engagements: the showing of compassion and devotion, wit and courage. Political and practical, these were obvious traits in his personality but his sincerity and actions in the latter years of his life, brought real hope. He spoke of love and understanding; he empathised with communities he went forth with authenticity, and his caring approach galvanised a nation.

Care is not about one detail, it is about every detail. It is about your words and your actions, it is about engagement on every level. It means putting yourself forward with conviction and being vulnerable. Maybe that is the real cost of care, because doing less and exposing nothing is dangerously easy.

Care is not about one detail, it's about every detail.

Care is about progress. It is about being kind rather than being nice. In the context of a business, it is about having passionate patrons: advocates rather than merely satisfied customers. Care empowers those it touches. When acknowledged and nurtured, its effect inside a business is like alchemy. If you encourage care and trust people to show their better nature, the magic then surges through the organisation and out into the world.

Jonathan is a co-founder and the CEO of &Open. Creative and ever curious, he believes in taking a thoughtful and human approach to business and large-scale corporate gifting.

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