We’ve all seen the flood of messaging that is talking about today’s customers. If you’ve been taking a really extended vacation and don’t know what I’m talking about, let me help get you up to speed. It sounds like this: Customers are constantly on the go and are endlessly connected to companies and the brands they interact with. The global economy we live in has created unique customer choices, preferences, and buying decisions that are no longer restricted by geographic boundaries.

Industry analyst firm Forrester Research describes it this way—we are in the “Age of the Customer.” Expectations have evolved, and the customer is in charge. Yes, that’s the message—the one that has been framed all around customer experience.

Actually, there is another story. It’s the one about customer engagement vs. customer experience.

Customer experience is rooted in emotion, and the customer owns it. They formulate the image of their experiences, not you. Engagement on the other hand is rooted in action. Engagement is broader, including both sides of interactions (customer and provider) and encompasses everything that happens that affects the customer in some way, whether it is a direct interaction with the customer or something that happens on behalf of the customer between interactions.

In fact, I discussed this in my most recent blog, “Are Your Customers Engaged?” Engagement requires employees that are empowered, well trained and equipped with information. Engagement requires technologies that help facilitate the actual customer interactions and the supporting analytics to extract insights in real-time. Companies that understand these dynamics and have adopted new processes, trained their employees and deployed new technologies to deliver, consistent, contextual, and personalized engagement often achieve better business outcomes.

It isn’t just about earning the next sale—it’s about customers making a quantifiable, long-term impact on an organization. Engaged customers tend to be more loyal, make more purchases, stay true to a brand and be less likely to switch. They might even become a brand advocate.

Those are the potential “wins” with customer engagement. Those organizations that don’t act or concern themselves with customer engagement get hit with the hard facts, such as Forrester’s recent finding that 75 percent of consumers move to another channel when online customer service fails.*

While many organizations recognize the importance of engaging customers, they may find it difficult to know where to start, what to prioritize, and when to act.

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