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Hoverstate Insights

It’s All About the Customers, Baby: Customer Engagement vs Customer Experience

What is a business without customers?

In trouble, that’s what.

Businesses live and die by their customers. Whether working with other businesses or directly with individual consumers, a business needs to respect and nurture their customer portfolio if they want to survive.

It’s no surprise that companies of all sizes have started putting customers above everything else. After all, a company’s customers are the most visible measurement of success.

Human nature says to follow others, as much as many of us want to pretend that we’re rebels. People often dismiss this as FOMO, but it’s a built-in way to help us find food, partners, music–whatever. Being popular doesn’t always make something the best, but it does mean that others have bought into the idea that it’s the best. 

Sometimes that makes all the difference.

After all, there are businesses that do tremendous work, create objectively better products and offer more comprehensive services, but they are invisible for whatever reason. Maybe they’re not advertising their offerings well enough. Maybe they’re just getting started and need to prove themselves.

And maybe they’re not focusing enough on customer experience and customer engagement.

Customer, Customer, Customer

The old adage in the real estate industry is “location, location, location.” Nowadays, every business should subscribe to a new mantra: “customer, customer, customer.”

Customer engagement and customer experience are key to the longevity and success of a company. These two crucial ideas also get confused and mixed up, and while there is some overlap, it’s important for every business to have an understanding of both customer engagement AND customer experience.

Some of you might be thinking it’s overkill, but just repeat after me: “customer, customer, customer!” Your customers should be at the top of your priority list, so designing separate customer engagement and customer experience strategies is a necessity.

Customer Experience: More than a Feeling

No, I’m not quoting Boston’s arena rock anthem of the same name. Customer experience really is more than a feeling, despite what some might say. After all, how do you quantify an experience?

It’s 2019–of course there are ways to quantify the unquantifiable!

Customer experience is often defined as the emotional experience to a brand. That’s true, but it also sounds a little New Age-y to us. So let’s redefine it slightly. Customer experience is about the ways that customers perceive, react, and talk about not just your products and services, but their journey to making a purchase.

Looking at customer experience in this way presents ways to tell if a customer experience strategy is working correctly. Whether you look at social media, your product reviews, survey results or what have you, you can measure the effectiveness of your customer experience strategy.

For instance, did a customer take to social media and write a review of your product? They are sharing their experience with fellow customers and your company. Did they give feedback by filling out a survey printed on their receipt? This gives you both quantitative and qualitative data. You can track negative and positive experiences as a metric, and you can use the qualitative feedback from a customer’s experience to refine your business processes.

So yes, customer experience is more than a feeling. Don’t just close your eyes and slip away.

(Okay, I’ll stop with the Boston references.)

Customer Engagement: A Noun, Not a Verb

Customers can be engaged, but I want to define customer engagement as a noun. Whereas customer experience is all about the journey to a destination, customer engagement is the end result. Did they buy your product? Did they post a review? Did they provide a reference? Did they go to a competitor?

Product, review, reference, competitor are all nouns–if you need a refresher, may I suggest School House Rock?

Why am I giving you a grammar lesson? I believe it helps highlight the core distinction between customer experience and customer engagement.

Looking at customer experience tells you how the act of buying a product or service works. Customer engagement, on the other hand, is the tangible touchpoints. Customer experience looks at the act of buying; customer engagement is the purchase itself. Customer engagement is not the feelings conveyed in the review; it is the review. It is not the tone of a social media post, but the post itself.

Just like every sentence needs a noun and a verb, every company needs to look at both customer experience and customer engagement. 

Why It Matters

Our team at Hoverstate believes that the difference between customer experience and customer engagement is an important distinction to make. After all, revamping a strategy to improve customer engagement might produce more data points (the actual engagement), but without examining customer experience, you might be missing out on the equally valuable other half of the equation.
To improve customer experience, it makes sense to turn to a concept like experience design and figure out where the hiccups are in the customer cycle.

To improve customer engagement, on the other hand, it might make sense to look at things like marketing campaigns, customer touchpoints, feedback opportunities, even something as straightforward as product or services pricing.

Customer engagement and customer experience might seem like two different sides of the same coin, but if you ignore either half of the coin, you’re potentially leaving money on the table.

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