In an increasingly competitive and digital market, creating meaningful customer relationships based on loyalty, prioritising the acquisition and retention of new customers and differentiating yourself from the competition through added value has become the key to success. We discuss customer engagement and why it is a fundamental strategy in today's business ecosystem.
Customer engagement and its growing relevance are linked to the progressive digitalisation of the business world. Other phenomena arise from digitalisation, such as increased competition due to the emergence of new digital players, new difficulties for companies to survive in an increasingly complex environment and the emergence of new communication channels and interaction models.
More and more companies are becoming aware that they can no longer ignore customer engagement. Creating bonds of engagement with the customer, giving customers what they want and need, and doing so in a way that matches customer expectations has become a necessity for businesses around the world, from large corporations to SMEs and even small companies.
What is customer engagement?
Providing a single definition of customer engagement is complicated, as the form in which the concept is implemented is closely related to a company's characteristics and business objectives.
However, customer engagement generally refers to the ability of a company to create loyal or committed relationships with its customers. It should not be confused with customer loyalty. Customer engagement encompasses any interaction between the customer and the company and, because of this, it is closely linked to customer experience.
One of the most accepted and probably accurate definitions of customer engagement is from Paul Greenberg, CRM and analyst at Hubspot:
“Customer engagement is the ongoing interactions between company and customer, offered by the company, chosen by the customer.”
While interactions can take on multiple forms and approaches —especially in the age of multi-experience and multi-channel— the implementation of customer engagement can differ between organisations. In fact, difference is good and businesses should aim to leverage interaction channels, communication channels and the creation of seamless customer experiences to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
Other approaches to customer engagement offer a more mathematical and practical sense of the concept, defining it as the metric that companies use to measure how engaged customers are in each interaction.
What is the role of customer engagement within a company?
While customer engagement is closely related to marketing and is primarily addressed by companies from this area of action, the lines separating the roles of business departments are gradually disappearing. In the new digital environment, companies need to understand that customer engagement concerns all business departments and stakeholders within the organisation.
Communication channels between companies and customers are increasing and it is now practically impossible to think of customer-company communication as something that happens in only two environments: the digital and the physical. Organisations no longer only approach relationships in the digital and physical space, but must also generate interaction with their customers in multiple channels —multi-channel or omni-channel strategy— especially online. It is also essential to care for and offer unique experiences adapted to each of these channels or, in other words, to create multi-experience or omni-experience strategies.
Furthermore, like any customer strategy, generating engagement starts with knowing the customers, their needs and expectations at each stage of the customer lifecycle. More and more organisations are becoming aware of the importance of placing the customer at the centre of the organisation and reinventing their structures to become a customer-centric company.
As we have already mentioned, in addition to generating interaction with customers, it is important for brands to be able to measure whether their customer engagement strategy is working or not. To do so, customer engagement must be measurable through a quantifiable metric that will vary according to the characteristics of each organisation. In other words, there is no single way to measure customer engagement. Some companies may, for example, take into account the acquisition of new customers through a specific communication channel. Others may focus on monthly social media interactions, or include both when calculating the metric. In the end, each company should be very clear about what customer engagement means to them and how to measure it according to their business objectives.
Customer engagement map
Many companies use a customer engagement map to guide their customer engagement strategy and define different types of interactions according to what stage of the customer lifecycle their clients are in. A customer engagement map is very similar to a customer journey map, although the first focuses on the interactions between customers and the brand and thestrength of the bond established with the customer in each stage of the customer lifecycle. The customer journey map, on the other hand, explores aspects more related to the customer experience.
Business benefits of good customer engagement strategy
Taking care of the interactions with the customer, creating relationships based on engagement and keeping in mind the customer experience in each of the interaction environments provided by a brand is essential if you want to increase customer acquisition, retention or loyalty rates; boost sales and have a greater presence and repercussion in social media, among other things. Customer engagement is nowadays one of the main drivers of business growth and revenue.
According to a Gallup Services report, engaged customers contribute 23% of a business' revenue, profitability and growth.
Like most customer-centric strategies, a good customer engagement process will always lead us to discover new information about our customers and, therefore, to get to know them better. If we encourage interaction, establish ways for customers to express themselves freely and listen actively, we will multiply the collection of information about the customer which, moreover, will be generated by the customer himself voluntarily.
Another benefit of customer engagement is the generation of trust and the solidification of the relationship with each of our customers. An effective customer engagement strategy can turn customers into brand ambassadors and promoters. In addition, customer engagement strategies can lengthen customer lifetime value (CLTV) and reduce the customer churn rate.
Companies that have not yet established a solid and effective customer engagement strategy are already coming too late. Everything suggests that the importance of customer engagement will only increase in line with technological developments and the digitisation of business communication channels.
Not sure how to create a customer engagement strategy? We can help you!