Brett Sadler

If You Build It, They Will Come

Listening-Island-Cartoon I’ve been pondering for some time whether it’s better to engage the few or the many in terms of customer/tenant engagement. Is it more important to engage with the few customers who want to be involved, or look to engage with a much wider, potentially more difficult group of customers?

My initial view is that it’s better to engage with the customers who want to be engaged. It’s a hard enough task getting meaningful engagement and feedback from customers, even from the ones who want to be involved. Mind you, it’s often the case that the majority of customers who have the time and inclination to be involved are of the older generation. You can almost always guarantee some older people will get involved.

It could be argued that the views you really need are from the customers who wouldn’t ordinarily feed anything back to you. We all know of customers who write in or telephone with complaints at any given opportunity, so you will always be guaranteed to get this feedback, but what about the vast majority of customers who we hear very little back from?

Maybe a scatter gun approach is the way to go, to give every customer the chance to get involved at any level they like. One downside to this is the amount of staff time this would take to get off the ground and potentially the lack of involvement you get from this.

And so to the title of this blog. If you build it, they will come. How many of you know where the blog post title comes from? It’s from the 1989 film starring Kevin Costner called ‘Field of Dreams’ (yes, it was on TV recently, hence why I remember it) and it’s about Baseball.

I’d argue that if you can create the right environment and use the right methods, you will get customers engaging with you as a landlord – they will come. For me this goes back to the question I posed near the start – is it better to engage the few or the many?

If you engage the few and tailor a service for them, you are much more likely to get their involvement. An example that springs to mind is that I’ve been pushing the use of Google+ in #ukhousing for some time now, but one thing I often get in reply is that there aren’t many tenants using Google+ and ultimately, would they want to converse with their landlord? I think the right way to think about this is that it’s a matter of getting the right subjects and the right people involved. There are tenants and customers on nearly every social media platform – you just need to engage and involve them on the right level. If I can get valuable feedback and engagement from one customer who hadn’t engaged previously, I’d view that as a success.

My final thought really is that it all depends on what you as a landlord or staff member want to get out of the exercise. If it’s qualitative data, then you need to spend a lot of time preparing the engagement method and ensuring it has the best possible chance of success. If it’s more a matter of ticking the box (quantitative) that you are doing some form of customer engagement, then it probably doesn’t matter what you do or how you do it. A word of caution though – I’m certain you’d be missing the valuable opportunity to gain customer insight and views which could only improve the service you offer to customers.

I’ll leave you with a well-known phrase that often springs to mind when talking about customer engagement:


In terms of customer engagement, my view is that the journey is as important (if not more important) than the destination.



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2 thoughts on “If You Build It, They Will Come

  1. chriswdrew on said:

    As if on cue, an older person writes………. 😉

    Awareness is 80%.

    If there are (say) 500 people who know where to find your blog, but 400 seldom bother to read it, then however humbling and even demoralising that is to you, you are still doing a worthwhile job. They know that the service is on offer, and often that is enough.

    Of the remaining 100 people who read it, for perhaps 80 of them it is mildly interesting background information.

    The remaining 20 are actually helped and of those, perhaps one or two will tell you!

    To increase any of these numbers is desirable, but has to be cost- effective – otherwise the tenants are just funding your literary urges.

    Is that fair comment?

    • It is fair comment Chris!

      Its far too easy to get stuck on the numbers game, whereas really, as you say, its about getting the ones who want to contribute involved, even if that’s the few. It also has to be cost-effective as well. I definitely think there’s argument for quality over quantity when it comes to tenant/customer engagement.

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