In a previous post, I discussed why customer engagement is important. I also introduced the customer lifecycle map, which is a template that shows interactions a technology company has with their customers. Once all customer interactions have been mapped, you want to make sure that every customer interaction is an engagement. This post is to explain exactly what the difference is between an interaction and an engagement. The next post will be about how to create an engagement.
An analogy to explain this is to think of a first date between two people. Think of the first date where you quickly realize there is no interest:
It is two people interacting with each other, and not much else. You look at your watch just as much as you talk to the other person, if not more.
Now think of a first date where both people realize “wow, there is something here.”:
Conversation is animated, you and the other feel a sense of hope for more. This is more than interacting, it’s engaging.
There are lots of differences between these two hypothetical first dates – a spark, chemistry, involvement – those are all further elucidations on the difference between an interaction and an engagement. The biggest difference is a matter of the outcome – whether or not there is a second date! And when it comes to dealing with customers, you are always looking for the second (or next) date. Sure, sometimes in a pre-sales conversation a point can be arrived at where you realized there is no technology/need fit, but it is better if that happens while the conversation is still engaging. To loose a customer (pre or post sales) because of failed engagement with them is what you want to avoid.
Continuing to the next conversation is why you want to engage with your customers with every interaction. The next post will discuss how to engage with customers, based on engagement principles first presented by Aristotle in the fourth century, BC. I have been invited to post it as a guest post on the Boulder Startups blog, a part of the Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship. I will link to that post with a new entry here on my site when it is out.