What Is Customer Engagement?

Mo Naser
June 26, 2024
Individual responding positively to a customer engagement survey

Humans are social creatures. Our brains are wired to connect with others. As business owners, we can serve this innate desire to bond and belong by focusing on customer engagement.

This article will teach you all about what customer engagement entails, why it's so important, and how to enhance engagement with your audience.

Definition of customer engagement

Before discussing why customer engagement matters, let's define what it actually means. There are many floating definitions on the web, but we like to think of it as creating meaningful interactions between your brand and your customers.

It's not about pure selling - it's more about building a connection that goes beyond the transaction.

Customer engagement makes your customers feel valued, heard, and part of something special. You are actively nurturing a reciprocal relationship that benefits both parties.

If that still sounds a bit vague, don't worry. We've only scratched the surface with the fundamentals. Next, we'll look at why you should care about engagement in the first place.

The importance of customer engagement

As a busy marketer or business owner, you likely have a lot on your plate already. Adding another nebulous layer of things to do may not seem worth it. Can't you throw enough money at a campaign and broadcast your message to the world?

Well, yes and no. Getting your brand out there is important, and there's no denying it. But just because someone hears your message doesn't mean they are listening and/or connecting with it. You need engagement for that.

Engaged customers not only listen but participate in an ongoing dialogue that breeds loyalty over time.

Here are some benefits you can expect from an engaged customer base:

Driving business growth

Think about the customer lifecycle for a moment. It's rare that a customer will hear about your brand for the first time and buy your product in the same breath. Usually, there's a journey involved.

You need to nurture them throughout this journey through engagement, among other things. With each engagement touchpoint, you move that person further down the sales funnel, building trust and familiarity with your offerings.

Customer loyalty and retention

Speaking of the customer lifecycle, the final stage is loyalty, when customers feel an emotional connection to your brand. This stage is when customers are officially "yours" and enjoy a bond that fosters brand advocacy and repeat purchases.

It costs five times more to attract new customers than to retain existing ones. And engaged customers purchase 64% more frequently than their non-engaged counterparts.

Engagement plays a significant role in fostering this loyalty. You stay top of mind and create positive associations with your brand.

Brand advocacy

Engaged customers also serve as powerful brand advocates. Did you know that 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family more than business ads?

When you wow customers with engagement and great experiences, they can't help but share the love. This creates a ripple effect. One where genuine recommendations attract new customers, driving growth through word-of-mouth.

Key components of customer engagement

So far, we've covered why engagement is so valuable for taking your business to the next level. But what it looks like in practice might still be a bit hazy. This section will explore some key components that feed into any engagement strategy.


The first thing most people think of when it comes to engagement is communication. That can be as simple as replying to comments on social media or being there when your customers need you.

Effective, timely, and personalised communication is key. But here's the kicker—it needs to be all three of those things, not just one or two.

For instance, canned responses may be quick and somewhat effective, but they lack a personal touch. And a beautifully crafted personal message that arrives three weeks late? Not so great, either.

Evaluate all your communication touchpoints - from automated emails to social media CS teams - to ensure optimal engagement.

Customer experience (CX)

Beyond communication, think about the customer experience with your brand. From browsing your website to purchasing products, see how you can create a journey that engages them.

To do so, you'll need to get to know your target personas. Find out what matters most to them, then, tailor your offerings accordingly so they feel comfortable at every step. Also mind basic things like website speed, the overall flow of checkout, and other CX best practices.

Feedback and surveys

We all like to feel heard. Seek customer feedback through surveys and reviews to understand your audience's needs, questions, and concerns. Then, use these insights to fuel your engagement strategy.

One way to do so is through our customisable customer survey templates. Use them to effortlessly create professional, branded surveys. The built-in analysis makes it easy to interpret results at a glance and pinpoint areas for improvement.


Technically speaking, this one could've been part of the "customer experience" section. Yet it deserves its own mention. With the help of CRM systems and segmentation, you can customise messaging and offers based on individual preferences.

Make customers feel special with tailored content and product recommendations. In fact, nearly 60% of them claim that personalised engagement is crucial to winning their business.

Customer support

Finally, you want to always be there when the customer calls (or emails/texts/tweets). The bottom line is that you have to be there for them through their journey at every step of the way.

According to HubSpot Research, 90% of people say an "immediate" response time is essential when they have an urgent question. 60% define immediate as 10 minutes or less.

If you can't meet response time expectations, customers may perceive it as a lack of care or engagement. Prioritise timely support across all channels.

Customer engagement ideas and strategies

Now that you know what engagement is and why it matters, we need an actionable game plan to enhance efforts.

Like any business initiative, you must first establish goals (i.e., improve brand loyalty or gain more referrals.) Then, outline the tactical steps to get there. Plans could include:

Build a customer centric culture

Customer engagement isn't just a checklist of things to do. It's a way of life. That sounds a bit dramatic, but it's true. It has to be ingrained in the very DNA of your company, so that customer centricity is at the core of all you do.

This means establishing best practices that focus on engagement up and down the organisational chart. You must train and empower employees to deliver worthy service during every interaction.

When your culture revolves around exceeding customer expectations, it shows.

Leverage technology

You also need the right tools for the job, which in this case, is managing wide-scale engagement. These tools often come in the form of software or platforms you can use to gather data or automate certain processes.

For example, platforms like SmartSurvey allow you to create white label surveys to keep your brand front-of-mind when requesting feedback.

Other solutions like CRM software also compile customer data to inform outreach. And AI chatbots scale engagement by handling common queries. Choose solutions that enhance your strategy.

Invest in CXM

Customer experience management has transformed significantly over the years, so that what started out as little more than basic customer service at the individual needs level has now developed into a proactive, strategic approach that aims to anticipate customer needs before they arise.

CXM today is a complete suite of practices and strategies employed by companies to track, oversee, and organise every interaction between a customer and the organisation, and throughout the customer lifecycle.

Create valuable content

It's not enough to just answer messages and fix problems for your customers. You want them to engage with your brand even when you're not around. As such, try to nurture them with valuable content that educates and entertains. From blogs to webinars and videos, quality content keeps your brand top of mind.

Useful content also spreads organically online, expanding your audience's reach.

Build a community

There are few things more powerful than the power of community. If you can establish a community around your brand or product, you're golden!

In the real world, a community is simple - it's people living together in close proximity. But what does it mean in the online world?

It could be a Facebook group, a forum on your website, or even regular events (virtual or in-person). What you ultimately want is for customers to interact with like-minded individuals, forming bonds anchored by your products or services.

Implement loyalty programmes

Finally, sweeten the deal for recurring customers with loyalty programmes. Points, status tiers, and exclusive perks give members incentives to engage frequently. In fact, 84% of loyalty programme members have made at least one redemption. Thus, strategic rewards boost engagement rates over time.

Measuring customer engagement

Once your engagement efforts are underway, the only thing left to do is to remain agile. That means reading the situation and adapting. You'll need to measure your engagement and see where you can double down on what works and improve or eliminate what doesn't.

Key metrics and KPIs

Track must-know engagement KPIs like:

● NPS (Net Promoter Score): How likely customers are to recommend you

● CSAT (Customer Satisfaction): How happy customers are with your product or service

● CES (Customer Effort Score): How easy it is for customers to do business with you

Analyse these metrics to quantify engagement wins and pinpoint weak spots.

Analysing engagement data

Collecting data is great, but it's what you do with it that counts. Methods like surveys, polls, and CRM tracking provide raw data on engagement behaviours over time. Identify trends and patterns to take action.

You can even integrate SmartSurvey with business intelligence tools like Excel or Google Data Studio for further number crunching.

Continuous improvement

As you execute your strategy, remain agile, using feedback and performance data to guide your way. This cycle of listening, optimising, and listening again will take your engagement to the next level.

Key takeaways

Customer engagement involves creating meaningful interactions between a brand and its customers, to go beyond mere transactions. It aims to make customers feel valued, heard, and part of something special, ultimately nurturing a reciprocal relationship.

Engagement nurtures customers through their journey, building trust and familiarity, ultimately moving them down the sales funnel. Engaged customers feel an emotional connection, fostering brand advocacy and repeat purchases, making retention more cost-effective than acquiring new ones. Engaged customers often recommend brands to others, creating a ripple effect and driving growth through word-of-mouth.

Effective, timely, and personalised communication, ensuring all touchpoints are optimised, will help to foster a seamless and engaging journey for all customers, tailored to their needs and preferences. Seeking customer feedback to understand their needs and using these insights to improve engagement strategies is vital. Customising messaging and offers based on individual preferences makes customers feel special. Providing timely support across all channels to meet customer expectations and show care is fundamental.

Embedding engagement practices throughout the organisation and training employees to deliver exceptional service is essential. Using tools like CRM software and AI chatbots to manage wide-scale engagement and gather data is beneficial. Employing strategies to track, oversee, and organise every customer interaction throughout their lifecycle enhances engagement.

Producing educational and entertaining content keeps the brand top of mind. Establishing online or offline communities where customers can interact with like-minded individuals fosters a sense of belonging. Offering incentives such as points and exclusive perks encourages frequent engagement.

Tracking engagement metrics like NPS, CSAT, and CES is invaluable. Gathering data through methods like surveys helps identify trends and patterns for actionable insights. Remaining agile by using feedback and performance data to refine and enhance engagement strategies continually is key to ongoing improvement.

We can think of customer engagement as another form of relationship building. When done properly, engagement drives revenue, loyalty and growth. We encourage all businesses to re-evaluate their engagement approach using the playbook above. The best way to get started is to take the time to intimately understand your customers, which you can do with tools like SmartSurvey.

Deliver experiences that boost customer engagement

Generating experiences that your customers will love has a major role to play in improving customer engagement levels. You can better achieve that with meaningful feedback, captured using the right survey solution.

Find out more

Author's note: this blog was originally published September 2020 and updated June 2024

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