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The Customer Engagement Trajectory describes a path of increasing business and customer co-involvement. The vertical axis represents business involvement with the customer and the horizontal axis represents customer involvement with the business. The intersection of these axes corresponds to the diagonal trajectory represented in the figure. In today’s economic environment, if a company’s relationship with its best customers is not trending upward along this trajectory, the business is becoming irrelevant and not only to its customers but to the entire customer ecosystem, including suppliers, distributors, and competitors, as well.
Looking at the graph, it should be clear that the relationships most companies have with their customers today are limited to the activities in the lower left quadrant. Loyalty and customer experience, the new black, receive massive attention from business and the media. Even though loyalty is a fickle subjective state and customer experience is just one tool for achieving customer centricity, companies continue to pursue them with greater and more complex resources and investments every year. And while this is certainly an improvement over the time when customers were either ignored or dictated to, companies that stop at loyalty are missing a significant opportunity.
The Age of Engagement is upon us. Unlike loyalty’s promise and potential, customer engagement presents tangible behaviours that businesses can easily measure. It therefore has a much stronger correlation to ROI, revenue, and profitability than loyalty. And between social media’s ever-growing presence and channels and the new generational cohorts that require them, customers have already exceeded the loyalty threshold of their own accord. They are clamouring to be involved, to participate, and even to behave as informal brand ambassadors. Companies need to catch up with their enthusiasm. Some have already begun. The more that do, the faster customer engagement will become the best practice, while loyalty and customer experience remain early stages of the business-customer relationship with limited and unpredictable ROI.