With all the emphasis put on the customer in the global business environment, knowing what your customers want, how they feel about your products or services and what their expressed views are on social media, knowing the nuances of customer terminology is critical to be able to differentiate between a satisfied customer and one who seethes beneath the surface because they believe their views are muted by more popular trends. Two of these terms, customer experience and customer engagement, will help you see through the superficial appearance and understand exactly what your customers say and mean.

Customer Experience

If there is one aspect of conducting business that most companies prioritize it is customer experience. This part of the customer is something that can be measured either in person or online. For example, a customer’s experience in the checkout process can often decide whether they will return to make a second purchase. A difficult checkout process and a cancelled purchase or failed return visit is definitely a negative customer experience – without any actual feedback. The result of regular negative customer experiences for a large number of people will reflect negatively on your bottom line.

Customer Engagement

If you have ever taken a survey or conducted one, you understand the basics of customer engagement. Instead of inferring a customer’s satisfaction or dissatisfaction with a product or the company, you have a method of directly measuring the criteria by direct interaction with the person. Even though a survey may not seem like a direct interaction, the responses are definite and clear. Customer service departments and representatives are the most often encountered point of engagement between company and customer. Other personal contact methods are showroom floors and social media networks. In fact, paying close attention to social media may be the best alternative as customers and potential customers are more likely to talk openly about their perspectives than most other direct contact methods.

The Result of the Mix

It is important to avoid separating customer experience and customer engagement when making evaluations of customer satisfaction. Each may be measured in different ways, but the message is communicated – either silently or vocally. The results need to be completely and objectively analyzed without placing too much emphasis on any one part of the marketing strategy. If a reduction of online purchase activity has been caused by customers cancelling the process in midstream, the source of the problem may be the technology or the design of the web site. Immediately suggesting technology is the problem advocates a simplistic approach to what may be a complex problem.

Likewise, if an avalanche of negative customer feedback comes back from surveys and in-store interviews, the problem may be with the product itself or may be in how the company is promoting or selling the product. Oftentimes, Twitterstorms are the result of a politically incorrect or offensive ad made by the company that has nothing to do with the quality of the product. The product may be desirable, or even great, but the customer’s concern is not about the product but the connection of the ad with the product. Social media analysis would be one way to clarify if this is the case.

However a company chooses to measure customer satisfaction and customer engagement, they are critical to the long term success of the company. The customer always customer comes first, and with a satisfied customer comes an increased bottom line. That is the final total of customer experience and engagement.