What Is Customer Engagement? The Ultimate Guide

Daniel Threlfall

Customer engagement is a broad term that has a variety of different definitions.

Some experts say it’s the emotional connection between a brand and a customer. 

Others define it as the process of a brand interacting with a customer. 

Still others say it’s the degree and depth of focused-interactions a customer chooses to perform. 

So, what is customer engagement? And why does it matter? 

Let’s take a high level view and figure out what customer engagement really is and how to do it right. 

What is Customer Engagement?

For simplicity’s sake, let me offer an ultra simple definition that synthesizes input from several expert sources. 

Customer engagement consists of all the interactions a customer has with your brand.

It’s a process that begins the instant that a lead comes across your company and extends beyond the point of sale. 

And this can include a lot of different types of interactions, including:

  • Landing on your website
  • Reading your blog posts
  • Checking out your product demo
  • Looking at your pricing information
  • Subscribing to your newsletter
  • Following your brand on social media 
  • Speaking with your sales reps
  • Turning to your customer service reps for assistance

A Real-Life Customer Engagement Example

Here’s a walkthrough of what the entire customer engagement process might look like, using Chili Piper as an example.

Let’s say that a company is looking for an inbound lead conversion and scheduling software to get the most out of their leads and move them through the sales cycle more efficiently.

So, they google “inbound lead conversion scheduling app.”

The first thing that pops up in the results is a link to the Chili Piper homepage, which they click on. 

The moment they first touch down on the Chili Piper homepage would be considered their first engagement.

They then proceed to browse through the Chili Piper site, checking out our credentials, product features, how the products work, and so on.

Then, they visit the Chili Piper pricing page to check out different plan options. 

They’re interested, but want to get an up close and personal feel for Chili Piper and learn the ins and outs. 

So, they go ahead and request a demo

They love what they see during the demo and decide to buy their ideal Chili Piper plan, where the sale is officially made. 

And to stay up-to-date on what’s happening with Chili Piper after that, they follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

On top of that, they routinely peruse the Chili Piper resources section, scoping out our blog posts and case studies.  


They even decide to download a free eBook on increasing speed to lead time

And let’s say that after using Chili Piper for a couple of weeks, the customer has some questions pop up, so they start a conversation with one of our helpful customer service reps. 

As you can see, customer engagement takes a lot of different forms, but the overarching theme is that it involves interactions between the customer and the brand. 

Why is Customer Engagement So Important?

Let me start by saying customers have arguably more power than ever before.

And that’s largely because of the ease in which they can now find information through Google, review sites, social media, etc…

…and the sheer amount of competition there is in most industries. 

As of 2019, there were over 15,500 SaaS companies in the world. 

Currently, the most saturated SaaS markets are:

  • CRM (23.9%)
  • Human capital management (13.9%)
  • ERP services and operations management (7.9%)
  • Collaboration (7%)
  • Procurement (4.6%)

Back in the day, just having a killer SaaS product was often enough to acquire customers and retain them.

But because of the factors I just mentioned, this doesn’t always cut it.

And a key part of growth and longevity is creating positive interactions, where there’s a genuine emotional connection. 

To illustrate how important this is, here are some stats that put things into perspective. 

And here’s the kicker.

54% of customers think companies need to fundamentally transform how they engage.”

This final stat from Salesforce shows there are some major flaws with the level of customer engagement that most brands are currently offering. 

The fact that over half of customers aren’t satisfied with their experiences shows there are definitely some issues that must be addressed. 

But I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

By knowing what customers expect and revving up your customer engagement strategy, this can instantly give you an edge 46% of your competitors. 

This brings me to my next point. 

What Exactly Are Customers Looking for With Engagement?

Salesforce breaks it down into three key points. 

  1. Customers want a brand to figure out what they want before they ask, creating proactive, personalized engagements and preventing potential issues from arising.
  2. Customers want to engage with a brand using their preferred channel at a time that’s convenient for them. “In fact, Omni-channel customer engagement is preferred by almost 78% of customers.”
  3. Customers want their engagements to be smooth and seamless, where they don’t have to give the same information to different departments or ask the same questions over and over. For example, if they have a conversation with a marketing rep, they expect the sales rep to have a record of what they talked about. In other words, siloing information is a bad thing. 

Besides that, B2B tech company Outgrow makes some other good points, saying:

  • 64% of customers want personalized engagements based on prior interactions they had with a brand.
  • 67% are keen to using self-service and actually prefer to do so rather than talking with a company rep. 
  • The willingness to engage further with a company drops for 52% of customers once they have a poor mobile experience. 

How to Develop Customer Engagement Strategies Based on Customer Expectations

Now let’s get into the nitty gritty — some actionable steps you can take to improve customer engagement and keep your customers dialed in.

Personalize the Customer Experience

For starters, you’ll want to make the process as personalized as possible.

There are a ton of ways to go about this, but here are a couple of ideas to get you started. 

Use copywriting that appeals to your exact audience, veering away from generic one-size-fits-all copy.

Another idea is to let leads personalize their plan to find one that perfectly fits their unique budget.

That’s what we did on the Chili Piper pricing page, where a lead can choose how many users they will have and choose if they want additional features like Concierge.

For more on SaaS personalization, I suggest reading this post from ChartMogul and this one from Baremetrics

They’ll get you up to speed. 

Create an Omni-Channel Customer Experience

Another huge part of the formula is allowing customers to choose the channels they want to use when they want to use them.

As I mentioned earlier, customer engagement can occur across a plethora of different channels — everything from blog posts to videos to social media to live chat. 

So, it’s essential that you create an omni-channel experience, where customers can seamlessly shift between whatever works best for them. 

I already provided examples of some of the channels we use at Chili Piper above, which you can reference.

And one other vital thing I need to point out is being open to new ideas, where you’re willing to try out new technologies to stay ahead of the game.

Salesforce writes that “75% of customers expect companies to use new technologies to create better experiences,” and “62% of customers are open to the use of AI to improve their experiences,” which is something to keep in mind when exploring different customer engagement options. 

I’m not saying that you should force it just for the sake of being hip and cool.

But as long as a new technology enhances the customer experience, why not use it?

Perfect Customer Handoffs

Next, there’s handoffs.

Throughout the sales cycle and customer engagement process, a customer may interact with multiple members of your team.

When this happens, you need to ensure that handoffs are silky smooth, where a customer encounters zero friction.

How do you do this?

It starts with lead routing, where marketing qualified leads (MQLs) are seamlessly make the transition to becoming sales qualified leads (SQLs)

Chili Piper makes this possible with lead routing, where qualified leads are automatically routed to reps based on predefined criteria. 

A lead chooses whatever meeting time works best for them, and it’s scheduled into the calendar of the appropriate rep to make bookings a cinch. 

The other main part of the equation is creating a framework where information is never siloed. 

One of the easiest ways to prevent this from happening is to use a lead conversion and scheduling app that integrates with your CRM.

That way the team member that’s dealing with a customer at the moment has instant access to critical information, like their:

  • Industry
  • Company size
  • Location
  • Products they’re currently considering or using
  • Preferences
  • Prior engagements

Besides that, they can see whatever notes other team members have left in the past, so they can have a smoother conversation without asking needless questions. 

Have Self-Service Options

Like I mentioned before, over two-thirds of customers want to use self-service instead of having to speak with a company rep whenever they have a question or issue. 

That’s a big number, so this is a feature you’ll want to include in your site design.

For instance, Chili Piper has a robust support section where customers can quickly find answers for admins, users, events and conferences, and so on. 

Or, they can simply enter a custom search term and look through our knowledge base. 

This is sufficient for answering a lot of questions, and we find that our customers love the convenience of having it. 

After all, it’s there 24/7. 

Otherwise, they can easily reach out to someone via the contact box.

Create a Killer Mobile Experience

Finally, there’s mobile.

With engagement for more than half of customers basically ceasing once they have a bad mobile experience, this is obviously something you need to get right. 

So, mobile optimization is insanely important.

Everything from easily browsing through your site on a mobile device to having it load quickly to being able to seamlessly use your SaaS product across multiple devices — it’s all essential.

I suggest starting by running a basic mobile-friendly test from Google, as this should help you work out many of the kinks on your site. 

And it’s also not a bad idea to have crowdtesting done on your site and SaaS product for an in-depth overview of specific improvements you can make. 

For a quick overview of what crowdtesting is, check out this post from Applause

Customer Engagement FAQs

What is customer engagement?

It’s the interactions a customer has with your brand.

What are some examples of customer engagement?

  • Landing on your website
  • Reading your blog posts
  • Checking out your product demo
  • Looking at your pricing information
  • Subscribing to your newsletter
  • Speaking with sales reps and customer service reps
  • Following your brand on social media 

Why is customer engagement important?

It can:

  • Create a better overall customer experience
  • Increase profits
  • Result in higher customer retention and less churn

What are some key customer engagement strategies?

  • Personalize the customer experience
  • Create an omni-channel experience
  • Create smoother customer handoffs
  • Offer self-service solutions
  • Ensure your website and SaaS product are fully optimized for mobile

Exceeding Your Customers’ Expectations

Customer engagement is an incredibly broad term with a boatload of different definitions that vary depending on who you ask.

But at the end of the day, it’s about one main thing — interactions. 

Creating better, smoother, more satisfying interactions is your ticket to winning over customers, and more importantly, keeping them around for the long run. 

Want to see how Chili Piper can double your inbound pipeline?

Get a demo now.

About the author
Daniel Threlfall

I help SaaS and online businesses drive viral organic website traffic to double their organic traffic and revenue in 6-12 months.

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