Head of Marketing, EMEA TTEC
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Customer experience vs customer engagement

25th Feb 2021
Head of Marketing, EMEA TTEC
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Customer experience (CX) and customer engagement may seem like different names for the same concept, but they aren’t. While companies sometimes use the terms interchangeably - and, even more generically, under the header of “customer service” - they are separate, nuanced notions. Both play crucial roles in leading to sales success and, to get the greatest return out of each, it’s important to make a distinction between the two. 

What is customer engagement?

Customer engagement describes the interactions customers have with a brand through different channels—comments on the brand’s Facebook page, logging into an app, an exchange with a customer service associate—and many more interactions.

Engaged customers buy more, are likely to make repeat purchase, and generate referral business. Strong customer engagement can improve brand experience, increase customer trust and loyalty, offer valuable insights, and increase sales volume. Brands need customer engagement to stand out from their competition and thrive; that’s never been truer than in today’s increasingly crowded and competitive marketplace.

What is customer experience?

Customer experience, as defined by CX expert Don Peppers, is the “totality of a customer’s individual interactions with a brand, over time.” It’s the sum of the interaction’s customers have with a brand, no matter how small. CX may even refer to a customer’s perception of a brand, which means a customer can have an experience with a brand before ever engaging with it. 

CX encompasses multiple parts: various points of interaction that, together, influence customer engagement. You can’t have strong engagement without offering positive CX to get you there. Likewise, even the greatest CX means little if it’s not resulting in engagement. 

How to master customer engagement + CX

The most successful brands are those that master both CX and engagement to keep bringing customers back for more. Throughout the pandemic crisis, we have seen some innovative examples of businesses finding new experiential ways to maintain their relationship with customers.

Restaurants now offer DIY meal kits, enabling customers to whip up their favorite dishes and drinks at home. Retailers expanded their ecommerce sites, including customer care options, making online shopping more engaging, convenient, and faster. Museums switched to online tours using virtual and augmented reality to create immersive digital experiences for visitors. 

Because of all these customer experience efforts, existing and first-time customers are more likely to be engaged. Agile organisations have strived to not only provide their customers with the services and products they desire but have thought imaginatively about how to remain ‘top-of-mind’ for when restrictions are lifted.

The brand that offers the most effortless and convenient experience becomes a customer’s first stop. Research shows that even if an item costs less elsewhere, loyal customers are drawn to a brand because of the ease and familiarity of the process. 

Best of both worlds

When done well, CX leads to stronger customer engagement which, in turn, leads to a better bottom line. With so many moving parts of the sales process, it may be tempting to lump customer experience and customer engagement together but doing so is a disservice to brands.

Instead, home in on the nuanced differences that influence CX and engagement. They are separate, equally important, parts of the process. Acknowledging and appreciating the difference between the two will help create positive, meaningful experiences that will lead to more engaged customers.

Learn more

Here are additional resources on customer trends, as well as how to optimise customer engagement and customer experiences.

  • Five Insights on the Future of Customer Experiences – We spoke to some of the most renowned CX experts for their insights, tips, and wisdom on how to reshape customer experiences to meet the intersection of technology and humanity. 
  • EMEA CX Trends: The 2021 Edition – Read this strategy guide for the CX trends that are reshaping the customer service landscape, strategies for humanising the digital employee and customer experience, predictions on what will differentiate leading CX companies, key tips for better serving customers and more.
  • The Technology Behind Customer Engagement – When it comes to customer engagement, there is no technology panacea to ensure loyal customers and increased customer retention. Innovation is continuously impacting this landscape. Read this article for best practices on how to make smart technology decisions and investments to drive innovative customer engagement.
  • Digital Tools for Human Engagement – How can you make the most out of technology to engage, inspire, and develop individual employee potential? We identified digital tools and methods that are key for unlocking genuine employee engagement that blossoms into amazing customer interactions.


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