Part I: Measuring Customer Engagement and Customer Experience

This article is the first of a series of three articles.

Nowadays, companies must supply exceptional customer experience if they want to stay competitive. So, they need to become Customer-Centric, as a commitment and a strategy, to ensure success for the business, and the customer. But is it possible to have a real Customer-Centric mindset, without real customer involvement?

It is usually stated that the customer must be involved in all processes. With the methodologies that most of the companies are using with their end customers, are they unquestionably involved from the beginning to the end of their journeys?

When a business claims to be Customer-Centric, the mentality should not be selling products or services that the business thinks will fit its customers’ demand, but it should be to meet customers’ real needs as efficiently as possible. To be truly Customer-Centric, a business often needs to reinvent itself: it must review processes, perspectives, ways of interacting and making decisions. This means putting the customer at the heart of everything the business does, from Product inception to Marketing, from Design to Support, including Sales and Pre-Sales services, and having customer touchpoints across every area.  A Customer-Centric approach includes identifying the questions prospective customers are asking, how they seek answers, and how to use those insights to shape a business’s content strategy.

Moreover, to be Customer-Centric is not only to create what delights the customer but also to communicate it to them, therefore creating a feeling of importance and relevance in the customer as part of the process. The customer wants to feel listened to, appreciated, and considered special, with their needs, desires, and goals, and not only treated like a number or a lead. It is essential to use technologies that gather and analyze information, acknowledge customers’ inputs, and follow them effortlessly along all the way. The same technologies that are changing customer behavior — e.g., the cloud, the Internet of Things, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) — are enabling businesses to personalize interactions with customers in a whole new way.

An unprecedented 100% of executives believe their customer engagement process is set up to successfully deliver. However, not all are doing what is necessary to be truly Customer-Centric. This rosy self-assessment may be due to a misunderstanding of the role that customer engagement should play — many of these companies could simply be viewing engagement through the wrong lens… Customer engagement is not a one-off endeavor, nor is there a single button to push or a box to check to ensure success. Meaningful customer engagement requires that companies remain diligent, predictive, and proactive.” as reported by Forbes Insights and Pegasystems 2017 survey.

To better understand customer-centricity and customer involvement in all the processes, we first need to know where the differences lie between Customer Experience (CX) and Customer Engagement.

Customer Experience is the physical, emotional, and psychological reaction that occurs throughout a Customer Journey. An example is supplying amazing service across all available channels after a transaction, therefore offering a personalized presence and care that is highly valued by the customer as a connected experience. This fuels the Customer Experience.

On the other hand, Customer Engagement is the process and actions of actively building, nurturing, and managing relationships between customers and brands, in a bi-directional way. The more engaged the customers are with a given brand the more likely they are to remain loyal, promote a brand, and increase their lifetime span as a customer. Whilst the more actions a brand promotes to engage with the customer, the better Engagement will be created. Brands and companies can control only the latter, as Engagement originating from the customer is a consequence of the work and actions taken by the companies and solely dependent on the Customer’s will to participate actively.

Customer Experience is practically based on an emotional connection and on how the customer perceives a brand, which means that the overall Customer Experience is what stays with the customer and will make them decide if they will return or recommend a brand.  As a business though, you can try to shape that experience into a positive one by engaging with the customer. That can be achieved through social media, surveys, advertising campaigns, or direct interaction. This is how Customer Engagement helps to keep a customer and make them want to come back for more or even rate your business with maximum stars.

Despite being two different concepts, the implications between them are clear: one of the main differences is that Customer Engagement can eventually be quantified, with the help of scores or indexes, measuring what concrete actions deliver – for instance when calling the support line, the customer is usually invited to respond to a survey after the call, to rate the quality of the service, engagement, etc.. Specifically, most of the actions that can change these Customer Engagement scores are defined by actions that will improve Customer Experience. Most of the time, although in some cases confused with Customer Engagement, it is the Customer Experience that depicts what is the emotional feeling towards a brand, which then leads to commitment and what drives, ultimately, an increased loyalty.

Believing that a product or service can only be better when customers and consumers are involved in its ideation, design, and development, promotes brands (who then become closer to their consumers) to reach the top levels of Customer Experience. However, it is only possible to reach this level when the technical quality of a product or service is mature enough. With that in mind, it is of the uttermost importance to ensure the quality of the experiences, enhance the customer journeys, whilst simultaneously protecting the reputation and increasing the visibility of the brand, product, or service.

The future is truly Customer-Centric. Thus when companies apply methodologies that include the customer in the whole process, the chances to succeed as a customer-centric business become extremely high since the customer has been involved and participated in the lifecycle of the products and services. The implementation of such a mindset will eventually culminate in a cost reduction for any business, in the medium and long run. This is because there will be higher accuracy when meeting customer’s expectations and needs, whilst also offering an acceleration for the entry of new products or services into the market, as well as making adjustments or improvements on the existing ones.

Customer Experience and Customer Engagement are continuous processes and long roads, which can go through multiple activities, such as Co-creation and Co-design, that involve end-users, customers, and other relevant stakeholders, on the ideation process.

Having established how Customer Engagement and Customer Experience activities are truly vital when interacting with the customer, in the next article we will shed some light on Co-design as a tool to enhance Customer Engagement and Customer Experience.

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