Customer Experience, Customer Engagement, Customer Journey – these terms are used and have been used in the last years in various contexts connected to Companies’ strategies for growing their Customer base and transforming Customers into brand advocates.
But what do they all mean and what are their particularities? Can we use them interchangeably?
There are no easy answers – but here’s a way to grasp these concepts.
Customer Experience is the new trending term and represents the unique relationship that a customer has with a Brand, composed out of all the interactions with the Brand, on all channels, in various contexts, together with the emotional impact all these interactions had on the Customer. It’s personal and subjective – as nowadays that’s how the Brand-Customer relationship needs to be.
“Customer experience considers everything the customer goes through—it’s everything the customer touches, tastes, smells, hears, sees throughout the experience with the brand.” (Blake Morgan, Forbes)
Having a high-quality Product is not enough for a Brand to transform potential buyers into Brand advocates. You need an outstanding experience, the Customer needs to feel seen, understood, and treated as an individual, in a personalized manner, and needs to see Brand following-through on their promises. Following-through on Brand promises means, in this case, to ensure that delivery happens exactly as planned, customer service is aware of Customer’s latest interactions with the Company over phone or in-shop, product warranty works as per expectations, etc.
“Our conclusion: superior CX drives superior revenue growth” (Forrester)
This shift has become visible in the Enterprise world, where “Customer Experience” as a term is gaining more visibility and weight.
SAP has renamed its Hybris suite into C/4HANA, which stands for the 4th Generation Customer Experience Suite and includes platforms needed for a Lead-to-Cash customer journey.
Clearly, Customer Experience is a concept here to stay.
Customer Engagement is a term in the same semantic area, with notable differences. While some might consider it overlapping with Customer Experience, in my point of view the relation between the two terms can be described like this: outstanding Customer Experience (CX) leads to a deep and beneficial Customer Engagement (CE).
Hence customer engagement refers to the level of involvement a customer has with a certain Brand and it’s something often expressed via measurable dimensions: number of transactions a customer performed in a certain amount of time, number of visits on the Company website, social media interactions, etc.
“Customer Engagement refers to the extent of the relationship a customer has with a brand. It can be strengthened — or diminished — with every interaction. ” (Customer.com)
In the enterprise world, Customer Engagement is used in different contexts.
SAP used Customer Engagement and Commerce (CEC) in the past as the name for their nowadays C/4HANA suite (Customer Experience suite) and this transformation suggests also the shift in focus.
Gartner considers Customer Engagement as a term inherently connected to the CRM world (see “Magic Quadrant for CRM Customer Engagement Center”) as it’s the CRM that’s supposed to rank Customer’s engagement, likeliness to churn, etc.
Customer Journey on the other hand is a more concrete term and represents the sequence of steps Customers perform when interacting with a certain Brand. It considers the complete interaction roadmap, from brand discovery/awareness to purchasing and advocacy.
The term is closely related to Customer Journey Mapping – which is the process of creating a Customer Journey Map, as a deliverable in a Customer Experience improvement project.
Customer Journey Maps are visual representations of Customer interactions with a Company on certain flows. Their purpose is to make stakeholders understand, analyze, re-design, and optimize the Customers’ interactions with the Brand so that the business goals of the Companies are achieved and the Customer Engagement is increased. Digital transformation projects are executed to implement ambitious Customer Journey maps.
It may seem that we’re defining the three terms one with the help of another!
They are indeed related and I think Customer Experience is the overarching concept that ties this all together. Its importance is expected to grow in the next years, as I think it’s now clear for everybody that a better Customer Experience yields better business results.