Marketing professionals have interchangeably used the terms “customer engagement” and “customer experience”. Although these two concepts have some characteristics in common, their meanings are quite distinct.
There may be times when a customer wants to be left alone. For them, it is important that they are not bothered by an excessive amount of emails, calls, and texts. Yet, brands persist in trying to reach every customer, which is the opposite of a good customer experience (CX). Approximately 72% of customers say they will only engage with personalized content, which suggests that some of these customers are not seeking to be totally left alone, but rather, prefer to interact only with companies that provide them with personalized and relevant content tailored to their requirements.
As a result of technological advances, customer expectations are rapidly changing and businesses continue to struggle to meet these ever-changing needs. In response to these developments, many organizations are reevaluating their perspective on their customers and the value they provide.
A company's bottom line depends greatly on engaging with customers in the correct manner and providing them with an excellent customer experience, but these challenges can be quite difficult to overcome. In order to achieve both objectives, it is necessary to understand the differences between these concepts.
What is customer experience?
Mckinsey defines customer experience (CX) as delivering superior experiences, value and growth to customers. The customer experience can be defined as the overall impression that your brand leaves on your customers throughout all the steps of the buyer's journey, according to Hubspot. Their perception of your brand affects factors related to a business's bottom line, including revenue. In order to create a positive customer experience, it is essential to provide quality products, empathetic customer support, and valuable marketing offerings all at the same time.
CX is sometimes referred to as the perception of a brand that a customer has, implying that a customer is experiencing a brand even before they interact with it. Customer experience consists of several elements - a variety of interaction points with customers that influence their attitudes and behavior. It is possible to have a high level of engagement without giving the customer a positive experience. Similarly, even the best customer experiences mean little if they fail to produce engagement.
What is customer engagement and why is it important?
Customer engagement describes the exchange of information between customers and an organization through various channels whether online or offline.
Customer engagement involves cultivating a continuing relationship between the business and the consumer that extends beyond transactions. This is an intentional consistent effort that aims to provide support and interactions at every touch point, ultimately resulting in a higher level of loyalty when combined with excellent CX.
As more companies look for innovative ways to retain and attract loyal customers, the concept of customer engagement keeps evolving. Offering a quality product or service was sufficient in the past years. But now, an analysis of data and analytical tools indicates that engagement is a crucial factor in influencing the purchase decision of customers. Engagement has become a major topic of discussion for many marketing objectives. The 2020 pandemic has also taught many businesses the importance of finding ways to communicate with customers digitally, in a virtual world, without jeopardizing the quality of CX.
What is the connection between customer engagement and customer experience?
In order to effectively manage CX and customer engagement, it is essential to understand the differences between the two. A customer experience is the perception a customer has of the entire interaction with a company as a whole (including experience with a product) while customer engagement focuses more on maintaining communications with customers outside product-related matters. The goal for engagement is to build and maintain a relationship with the customer.
Despite their interconnectedness, customer engagement and customer experience are not synonymous and each serve as a distinct purpose within an organization's larger sales, marketing and retention strategies. Great CX begins and ends with every interaction along each stage of the customer journey. To achieve a positive customer experience, the entire organization must work together. When marketing, sales, finance and customer service department operations are independently assessed by different KPIs, it becomes a challenge to deliver a consistent and impactful customer experience.
Developing a holistic strategy for CX and customer engagement through one-to-one messaging
Successful companies are those that are able to master both customer experience and engagement so that their customers will stay with them long-term. The two concepts are intertwined in the sales process so it may be tempting to lump them together, however this would be detrimental to overall sales and marketing objectives. Brands should instead focus on the subtle differences that impact customer experience and engagement. As long as brands continue to acknowledge and appreciate the differences between the two, they can create positive and meaningful interactions that will result in satisfied customers.
Having a well-designed, analytically-driven customer engagement strategy is the answer. Companies today are investing heavily in expanding their reach via modern channels such as text messaging and social media. Bringing CX and customer engagement together will require an omni channel communication strategy. In order to implement an omnichannel strategy, different communication channels must be utilized in supplying customers with ongoing updates regarding their transactions, as a means of providing after-sales communications, and integrating them with the service desk to provide a seamless customer experience regardless of the channel the customer uses.
According to Salesforce, a successful omnichannel customer experience is dependent on the unification of three elements;
- Complete engagement with customers on any channel
- Consistent service across channels
- Connected to one CRM for a unified view of customer information
This system enables the organization to standardize and unify its messaging and approach to communicating with its customers. It is possible for an organization, for example, to provide sales or support via phone, text message, or email. In an omnichannel strategy, marketing assets and communication methods are the same regardless of the channel that the customer uses. By implementing this correctly, messaging, advertising methods, support and purchase experiences will all be unified. Customers can connect seamlessly with support staff using multiple channels while the support team has a holistic visual on the customer requiring help.
From that point, customer engagement and CX are effectively combined when a comprehensive CRM is coupled with technology that enables authentic two-way communication between a business and its customers. Hundreds of thousands of companies already use a service cloud to automate service processes, streamline workflows and find valuable topics to support customer service support teams. To sum it up, the goal is to cultivate personalized one-to-one interactions with every customer across multiple channels and devices.
Marketers can accomplish this using a variety of marketing technologies. We already know that a CRM platform such as Salesforce gathers customer data that can be analyzed across multiple touchpoints. The information can then be integrated with a third-party communication solution to provide customers with personalized one-to-one engagements. Statflo provides the technology behind an API texting solution that can be integrated into Salesforce to deliver these one-to-one engagements, offerings and customer support directly to a customer's smartphone via SMS.
By using one-to-one messaging, businesses can establish relationships with their customers that go beyond transactions. The use of personalized communications taps into a consumer desire to interact with brands and establishes trust, which is the foundation of long-term brand loyalty. A brand that offers personalized interactions such as wishing customers a happy birthday, offering refinancing on mortgage anniversaries at the right time, or upgrading home phone and internet plans to accommodate an expanding family demonstrates an understanding of its customers' needs. That is the essence of what it means to provide a great customer experience in conjunction with valuable engagement.
Business can improve overall customer experience and engagement through one-to-one messaging at each stage of the customer journey. To find out more, book a demo with us today!