“Engagement” and “experience” are often mistaken as one in the same, but they’re not.

Technology is fueling a massive shift in customer expectations, prompting brands to rethink how they engage and retain customers. This on-going change is transforming how businesses understand and value the customer across the entire lifecycle and through every channel.

Through research, strategy, insights and a customer-centric approach – customer experience is one of the primary differentiators that businesses can somewhat control. And, if brands want customer loyalty, then they need to engage with their customers better. So, what’s the difference between experience and engagement?

What is Customer Experience? Customer experience (CX) is how a person feels about all of their interactions with a product, system, service or channel. CX considers the context and experiential aspects of the interaction, and the customers’ perceptions of the functionalities, ease of use and emotional delight across the entire customer journey. It’s about the moment in time, the anticipation of the moment, and the memory of the moment.

Customer experience is the perception of all the customer’s interactions with an organization – from the customer’s perspective. While not always easy, customer experience should be measured against the customer expectations across all points of interaction. Were they delighted, frustrated, surprised, and ambivalent? Were you able to produce and deliver a good quality product or service? Remember “good” is in the eyes of the beholder.

For customer experience to be great, every interaction at every customer touch point must be exceptional. In other words, the whole organization must work together to deliver a great customer experience. Yet the structure of most firms is highly fragmented into functional (or nonfunctional) silos: Marketing. Sales. Customer Service. Operations. Each has different responsibilities that often conflict. When different departments operate based on different KPIs and completely separate systems, it’s incredibly difficult to achieve the nirvana of a wonderful, cohesive customer experience.

What is Customer Engagement?And how does it differ from customer experience?
While customer experience is the emotional connection and perception a customer has with a brand, customer engagement on the other hand refers to all of the touch points between the company and customer – as well as the actions that the customer might take like buying, posting, tweeting, liking, following, referring, etc. If your customer has a positive experience, you should see them becoming more engaged and exhibiting loyalty behaviors and attitudes. Essentially, customer engagement is the sum of how your customer feels and how your brand interacts with them.

Yet, customer engagement has become a nebulous term with dramatically different meanings depending on who you’re talking to. A CMO tends to think of it as how you reach the customer and the customer actions; but for a CIO or CTO, customer engagement is about networks, software, hardware and other resources.

Digital Customer Engagement

As technology has reshaped the way businesses interact internally and externally, the term “digital customer engagement” has evolved into a catch-all for how technologies and processes are employed to deliver great digital experiences and interactions to customers.

Improving customer relationships and experience will drive customer loyalty. Yet, while companies recognize the importance of a strategic approach to engaging customers across the entire journey, they often don’t really understand the customer throughout the journey. Achieving a single view of the customer presents a lot of technical challenges. To deliver personalized and relevant communications, businesses need technology, integration, customer insights and clarity across the company to maximize customer lifetime value.