1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Across many organizations, business leaders have shown an ever-increasing interest in the concept of engagement. Engagement can be defined as the personal investment one puts forth in order for an organization to succeed (Macy & Schneider, 2008). Organizations are eager to understand how engagement could provide insight on how to produce more value-added contributions to make work more effective. As a result, within the internal networks of an organization, human resources and leadership/organizational development departments are beginning to survey and evaluate engagement among employees more readily (Hewitt Associates LLC, 2005). Furthermore, there is a need for organizations to expand the notion of employee engagement to other domains such as exploring customer engagement. Since there is an increased interest in engagement measurement within organizations, it is important to facilitate a science-practitioner approach that will incorporate an appropriate theoretical foundation (Harter, Schmidt, & Hayes, 2002; Macey & Schneider, 2008). The majority of engagement literature to date has focused on employee engagement. This body of literature relates job characteristics with the attitudes and behaviors demonstrated by employees at work. Employee engagement has sparked discussions on how the concept is defined, how it should be measured, and what value it brings to an organization. Since there are limited publications on customer engagement, evidence from employee engagement literature will be utilized to support the customer engagement framework presented. Following the engagement trend, organizations have a growing curiosity to learn not only how their employees are engaged, but also to what extent their customers are engaged as well. Customer engagement is viewed alike to employee engagement where customers are viewed as exceeding performance expectations to help a provider succeed. Customer engagement has become a popular concept to businesses as they are seeking out new ways to retain and acquire customers, especially during times of an economic downturn (McEwen, 2004). Furthermore, organizations are concerned with the ways in which they can engage their customers across different channels. Today, many organizations conduct business in different channels, such as the internet, phone, or by visiting a store location. Customers’ personal preference can dictate which channels or mediums are mostly considered to search for products or conduct a business transaction (Kim, Ferrin, & Rao, 2009; Lee & Bellman, 2008). To add another layer of complexity, differences exist with these processes depending on the type of business (i.e., business-to-business (B2B), business-to-customer (B2C), customer-to-customer (C2C)). All these factors should be considered when organizations are making attempts to engage their customer base. The concept of engagement has a foundational element that can be applied to multiple domains, such as employee or customer engagement. In the domain of customer engagement, it is just as important to understand what drives customers to conduct business with certain organizations and what causes those same customers to repeat business transactions (Bowden, 2009a). Definitions for engagement can be translated to fit customer engagement and the relations customers have with a business instead of relations of employees to a work organization. Two definitions that will be of focus for defining customer engagement in this study are the following: 1) Repeated interactions that strengthen the emotional, psychological, or physical investment a customer has in a brand, 2) the willingness of customers to invest oneself and discretionary effort to help a provider succeed (Macey & Schneider, 2008). From these definitions, interactions with either a business or brand are of focus instead of characteristics of work which is the case in employee engagement. Engagement fundamentally incorporates cognitive, emotional, and psychological components and it can be used as a proxy in customer behavior research for evaluating customer relationships with a company or brand. Then, engagement becomes relevant to evaluating service performance based on customers’ attitudes towards feelings of confidence, trust, integrity, pride, and passion in this customer-brand relationship (McEwen, 2004). Employees or customers who are engaged add value to an organization such that company specific knowledge is developed over time. The current study sought to adapt a measurement framework for employee engagement to customer engagement, and also examine the Influence of Customer Engagement on Sales Volume of an organization (A case study of Lafarge Africa Plc).
1.2 Problem of the study
Customers and employees face similar tasks and challenges on a daily basis. For example, an employee might find challenges with identifying the correct approach to deliver a report whereas a customer may be challenged with selecting the right tool to purchase to complete a job back in the warehouse. With the construct of engagement, both of these groups have opportunities to demonstrate persistence, pride, and enthusiasm as well as investing effort to help a business succeed. Additionally, the current study focused on the business-to-business context which is typically understudied compared to business-to-consumer contexts.
1.3 Objectives of the study
The main objective of this thesis is to understand how Customer Engagement Influences Sales Volume of an organization (A case study of Lafarge Africa Plc). The research will be, thus, conducted through customers’ point of view, in order to know what they feel about brands engagement, and also, through employees’ point of view to be able to discover how customer engagement affect sales volume of an organization.
The objectives are:
• To know what kind of marketing strategy will engage customers by creating interactions between the brand and the customers, and between customers themselves
• To define what kind of marketing strategy will encourage positive Word of Mouth
1.4 Research Questions
1. How does advertising on a regular basis engage the customers?
2. How can Customer Engagement significantly influence Sales Volume of Lafarge Africa Plc?
1.5 Significance of the study
The study will help academicians, experts and professionals of Marketing to further understand the notion of Customer Engagement and its effects on sales volume.
The study is significant because it widens the base of knowledge that allow the company to save cost and increase sales volume, because attracting new customers costs more than retaining existing customers.
1.6 Scope of the study
The study will focus on the Influence of Customer Engagement on Sales Volume of an organization (A case study of Lafarge Africa PLC).
The commissioner, Lafarge Africa PLC is a member of Lafarge Holcim Group, the most prominent building and concrete solutions company in the world. They are active in four business segments: Cement, Aggregates, Ready-Mix Concrete and Solutions & Products. The growth in population drives the demand for their products and solutions. Lafarge Africa Plc net sales for the year 2018 ended saw an increase of about 3.1 per cent compared to the previous years and the company was awarded the best company in stakeholder engagement in Nigeria by Social Enterprise Report Awards (SERAs). With these achievements, it shows their level of commitment and how customer engagement is essential to them. This thesis will be beneficial to Lafarge Africa plc as it intends to provide comprehensive insight on how customer engagement drives an incremental growth. The study will also benefit the researcher as it broadens my knowledge of customer engagement and how it drives the growth of an organization.
1.7 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The Major Limitations of the study are:
Cost Limitation: There was a cost limitation. This means that we could not offer any gift or monetary incentives for the respondents to answer the questionnaire. This might have resulted in certain prospective respondents choosing not to respond to the questionnaire. This might not have created a motivation among respondents not to take a chance to give opinions.
Time Limitation: There are two types of time limitation faced during the study. The study was done for a period of election. Hence the results would reflect the impact of the time constraint. The insights of the respondents were observed during the period of study. A more extensive study conducted over a larger time period or during a special period of time like when there were higher numbers of issues.