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Customers are demanding to be heard and involved. And engaging with them enables businesses to understand customer conditions, aspirations, and future directions. Customer engagement can provide critical insight into marketing strategy, marketing and advertising campaigns and collateral, new product development, and service innovations and refinements. In addition, engagement amplifies the reach and impact of marketing activities and removes barriers to (re)purchase. Importantly, in this age when relationships can be destroyed by a single tweet, engaged customers will express their dissatisfaction directly to a company to provide opportunities for remediation before sharing their frustrations with the whole world.
Customer Engagement: Definitions and Key Components
Customer engagement is properly defined as:
• The extent of a customer’s willingness to invest his/her discretionary time with a company for mutual benefit.
The measurement of engagement is:
• The sum of the customer activities that build positive emotional attachments leading to greater customer involvement that positively impacts revenue and profits.
Based upon these definitions, customer engagement is far richer for both the customer and the business in the nature of the engagement, the relationship, and the benefits that result from it than the superficial distractions advertisers are calling engagement. For companies, those benefits are increased revenue and greater profitability. For customers, the benefits are greater satisfaction and more purposeful experience.
There are two key components of customer engagement: advocacy and involvement. The most successful companies with an engagement strategy materially involve customers in their growth efforts, especially in marketing efforts such as acquisition and retention, operations, product and innovation, as well as overall business strategy. To succeed, customer engagement efforts must have a correlation to growth metrics, especially revenue and profits.
The Virtues of Customer Engagement
Engagement is intuitive If customers are accepting sales calls, participating in innovation processes, speaking at conferences on behalf of the company, pinning products on Pinterest, and advocating company products on Facebook, they are clearly more likely to repurchase and increase company share of wallet, with reduced price sensitivity.
Engagement is a more accurate measure of customer intention.
Whereas loyalty is a fickle, subjective state that is notoriously difficult to measure and forecast, engagement constitutes actual behavior that can be readily elicited and measured. Is a customer participating in relevant activities that lead to purchase/renewal? By structuring metrics with sufficient granularity, a company can tell how often and to what degree a customer participates across a range of platforms and activities over time. Waning participation is a leading indicator that loyalty and future revenue may be at risk.
Engagement is loyalty’s next evolutionary step Customers who are already loyal can be more easily enlisted to collaborate with a business and to advocate on its behalf.
Engagement is highly correlated with revenue The engaged customers of one large technology company generate three times greater revenue than transactional customers of similar industry and size. And they are four percent more loyal and represent 12 percent greater share of wallet than transactional customers. PeopleMetrics found that retail banks focusing on customer engagement realize a 13 percent revenue reward, compared to a 36 percent revenue penalty for peers with low levels of customer engagement.*