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What is Customer Engagement?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2016
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Customer engagement (CE) is a concept in marketing which is used to refer to the types of connections consumers make with other consumers, companies, and specific brands. Achieving a high level of customer engagement is viewed as desirable because it tends to enhance brand loyalty. Companies with a following of highly engaged customers have a dedicated fan base of people who not only buy their products, but also encourage others to do the same, thus creating a ripple effect.

Customers can engage with companies and each other in a variety of media. Historically, customer engagement was often very one sided, with companies marketing to consumers, but not experiencing much communication from their clientele. With the advent of the Internet, this dynamic changed radically and companies had to rethink the way they approached customer relationships.

Activities which could be considered facets of customer engagement include visiting a company website and sharing it with others, creating content about a company or product such as writing a blog entry about a product, engaging in social networks of people with shared interests, writing or calling companies, and viewing print and television advertising for a given company or brand. Highly engaged customers may do all of these things, while less engaged customers may have a less solid relationship with the company.

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Advertising often promotes a higher level of customer engagement by providing incentives to be a more engaged customer. For example, people may be told to visit a company website for coupons, or a company may sponsor a contest for bloggers, podcasters, or vloggers, with the winner receiving products or remuneration. The act of creating content for the contest engages the customer and makes the customer more likely to feel connected with the company in the future.

Companies have different ways of approaching customer engagement and the development of relationships with and between consumers in regards to their products. Some of these approaches are industry-dependent, with certain industries lending themselves more to high engagement than others. The philosophy of a company can also be an important aspect, as companies want to retain the reputations they have built while attracting customers and deepening their relationships with their customers.

Some consulting firms specialize in customer engagement. These companies can assist companies with the process of building a more engaged customer base while also expanding their market and remaining true to their core values. Fees charged by such companies vary, depending on the services offered and the size of the campaign.

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Crispety
Post 11

@SauteePan- Wow that must have been nice. I know that companies also offer customer engagement in the technology world by offering customers newsletters that include information on new upcoming products, recipe information along with coupon offers for new products via email.

Sometimes a store will let you know ahead of time that certain merchandise will go on sale which is also nice.

SauteePan
Post 10

@Subway11 - I love when companies do that. I have to say that I have noticed that a lot of companies are also offering customer engagement surveys. I get these a lot when I go to fast food restaurants.

There is always a toll free and a promise of a free entrée if I call the number or fill out the online customer engagement survey on the company’s website.

I think I filled out one of those surveys once, but I usually end of throwing away my receipt. I know that when you buy a car they also do that. In fact, my husband not only got a customer survey when he initially bought his car, but he also was picked for a focus group regarding the branding of this particular car.

He really enjoyed giving the company feedback and I think he was paid $250 for two hours of his time which was not bad.

subway11
Post 9

@Sneakers41 - I have to say that it really enhances my experience in the supermarket when I use coupons that the company has sent me because I feel like I got more value for my money and it makes me want to come back.

I know that some companies offer similar customer engagement strategies involving free products on the customer’s birthday. I know that every year I can count on this handbag store to send me a $20 certificate that I can use towards any purchase in the store. I really look forward to it and it does create a lot of goodwill in my mind towards this company.

The first time I shopped at the store they asked

me to be on the mailing list and also asked me information on my birthday and anniversary. I think that this was a really smart marketing tactic because not only does it keep me coming back, but most people spend more than the initial gift so they win in the end.
sneakers41
Post 8

@Esther11 -I know that the internet is a growing medium, but I still think that television advertising reaches the biggest audience. With television programming you can target a select audience based on the demographics of the viewers.

The internet is broader and while you can still do this, it seems a little harder to do. I think that a lot of companies want to enhance the customer experience by finding out as much as they can about their own customers.

A lot of companies are doing this by creating a rewards program in which the customers would receive discounts and free products in exchange for providing some demographic information.

The great things about these rewards cards are

that not only can the company track the frequency and dollar amount a customer purchases, but they also know where their customers are coming from by doing a zip code search.

They can then send these customers targeted coupons that match some of the items that the customer purchases. This will almost ensure that the customer will return to redeem the coupon. I know that a lot of grocery stores do this and they even offer Catalina coupons on the back of the receipt so that the customer will return.

It is really a great idea. I love when they give you those $5 off coupons on your next purchase of $50 or more.

Esther11
Post 7

Television advertising doesn't seem to be as effective as it was decades ago, although it appears that a lot of money is being spent on this type of advertising.

People today, are more inclined to go to online sites to see visuals of products, read all about them, and purchase them. Companies are working hard to achieve consumer engagement for their products. I'm happy to go to a well set-up website with links to product description, customer reviews, invitations to call customer service, and blogs.

Some people have the time to go to a social network and talk to others about their purchase needs and desires. I don't have a lot of brand loyalty; I often change brands as products and prices change.

sweetPeas
Post 6

I think that the concept of having a close relationship with companies you have bought from can be over-done. I don't mind giving my e-mail to companies that I like. But I don't like all the e-mails sent to me containing "junk", instead of sending an e-mail for "good deals."

I don't like to be targeted on a daily basis. When I'm interested in purchasing something, I will search for information and opinions - such as product reviews and blogs.

My needs for client engagement don't include chatting with others who purchase the same products or services as I do.

hyrax53
Post 5

I think an ideal customer engagement model would involve some basic updates, such as in email, for everyone, but then a certain amount of options, such as the companies which ask you which types of products interest you, or give other options to personalize emails or website use. That, to me, shows an interest in customer satisfaction.

Catapult
Post 4

@alisha I agree, being able to interact with companies this way really helps. It can also show you which companies are committed to doing that well, and which think an occasional emailed advertisement counts as membership or working together.

I prefer the companies who are interested in send me updates about things related to business or even just what they think would be interesting, not just information on the next sale.

candyquilt
Post 3

@burcidi-- Wow! That's really great to hear. It sounds like a fantastic program.

I wish all companies were as committed to engaging and listening to their customers as yours is. I feel that smaller businesses tend to do this better because they are trying to impress customers and make them loyal to their brand. I have come across small shops and online businesses that literally go out of their way to serve me and get my feedback about their products and services.

Large companies who already have a large customer base don't seem to care about this too much. It can be difficult to reach them and resolve a problem. They make me feel as if I am too small to pay attention to. What a horrible way to run a business! I'm sure that without customer engagement and customer satisfaction, they will start losing the customer base that they trust so much.

burcidi
Post 2

I work for a cosmetics company and we have a really great affiliate and incentive program that we've started to improve our customer engagement and increase sales.

Anyone who has a personal site or blog can become our affiliate. It not only provides our customers with an opportunity to make income by displaying our banners, but we also support their blog by providing sample products and gifts for giveaways.

This has been a great way to show our appreciation to our customers and help them spread the word about us. I think our customers are much more than customers, they are part of our company, it really feels like we are one large family. I have the best time interacting and working with them.

discographer
Post 1

I agree that internet and particularly social networking sites have started a whole new era for customer engagement.

I was excited when I started getting emails from my favorite stores and did my shopping online. Now, I can get minute by minute updates from them. I can see products within minutes of being released. I can even drop a message and say hi just because I feel like it.

Internet and social networking sites have made customer engagement much more personal and friendly. We have been missing a lot!

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