What is Customer Engagement?

By Allan MacGowan - July 9, 2015

When setting out to create a definition of customer engagement, the first step is to take a close look at the word ‘engagement’. It is an interesting word with definitions that are polar opposites in meaning. Engagement can mean entering into a trusting relationship such as a marriage, but it can also mean going to battle in a military conflict. In the world of contact centers, both definitions can make perfect sense, but only one really serves to deliver a satisfactory result.

In many instances, a customer’s mindset towards engagement with a contact center agent is more aligned with the combative definition – they have a problem and they want it fixed NOW. And the goal of any business providing service or support is to meet or exceed the customer’s needs to create a positive experience, and potentially establish a positive long-term relationship.

Customer engagements are an entry point to a relationship. Just like a marriage, flexibility is a fundamental requirement for having a successful engagement and fostering satisfaction.

This is particularly important when a customer is in “battle mode.” Forcing them to repeat information in different channels can make them more frustrated, and add fuel to a smoldering fire. Providing a broad range of communications channels in an Omnichannel model can help defuse a hostile encounter by letting the customer choose the simplest way to connect, while managing the context and details along the path so if they choose to switch channels, say from chat to voice, or voice to video, they don’t have to repeat their troubles to the next agent.

At the end of the day, engagement that is personalized for each customer, that anticipates needs in real time and goes above and beyond in fulfilling requirements, can turn a potentially combative situation into a positive experience that leads to a strong long-term relationship.