May 10, 2023
The difference between customer involvement and customer engagement
For too long, “customer engagement” has been a buzzword in the marketing world, often meaning little more than brands bombarding people with marketing messages. It has been overused, convoluted, and became an increasingly passive practice in recent years.
At Experify, we believe it’s time for a change to embrace a new, more authentic and meaningful approach of what we like to call “customer involvement”. It’s time to give customers a real voice and seat at the table, and for brands to prioritize lasting relationships with customers and create products that truly meet their needs.
What is customer involvement?
At its core, customer involvement is about creating a two-way conversation between businesses and their customers. It's about giving customers a voice and actively involving them in the business processes that affect them, from product development to marketing to customer service. It’s more than just sending out surveys or asking for feedback. It means creating open and honest channels of communication for customers to share their opinions and insights, building trusted communities where people can connect with you and with each other, providing tools to facilitate real-time feedback, and working together to solve problems.
With this approach, businesses can gain valuable insights into their customer needs and preferences, which can help fuel future product development and greater success together. This is the new path to success for businesses who take customers seriously and want to build with them, not just for them.
Why is customer involvement important?
First and foremost, it builds trust between businesses and customers. By involving customers in the development process, businesses are showing that they value their opinions and are committed to creating products that truly meet their needs. This can go a long way in building brand loyalty, fostering better retention, and increasing customer satisfaction.
Secondly, customer involvement can lead to more innovative and successful products. When you involve customers in your product development process, you can gain valuable insights into your customer needs and preferences. This can help you identify gaps in the market, pain points and opportunities you may have missed, uncover unexpected product benefits and selling points, and truly create products that are tailored to your customers’ unique preferences. This, in turn, helps you create highly-differentiated products in the market that are easier to sell and more successful.
This isn’t just a surface-level mantra of building a better business, but it can actually impact your bottom line. And by involving customers in the product development process, you can also foster a sense of ownership and emotional investment, which can drive greater adoption and usage.
Finally, customer involvement can help businesses build and sustain thriving customer communities. By providing tools to facilitate communication and collaboration among customers, businesses can create a sense of belonging and connection — not just with their own customers, but also among them. This fuels naturally increased engagement, loyalty, and advocacy for your brand.
Best practices for customer involvement
Here are some of our top tips you can put into practice today to start practicing more genuine customer involvement strategies:
Create opportunities for feedback: Whether it's through surveys, focus groups, beta tests, or other channels, it's important to regularly solicit feedback from your customers. This feedback can help you identify opportunities and areas where you can improve your products and services.
Take action: Arguably the most crucial element for customer involvement is to actually act on the feedback you receive. If customers feel like their feedback is ignored, they’re less likely to participate in the future. Show your customers that you value their feedback by taking action on it and continuously improving your products and services.
Keep customers informed: Keep people informed about the progress you're making based on their feedback and share updates on how you're using their insights for the better. You can do this through live Q&A or AMA events on social media, or regular email updates and newsletters.
Be transparent: Customers appreciate honesty and transparency from businesses. Be open about your company's mission, values, and goals; and share how you plan to involve them and ask for their feedback.
Engage your communities: Customer involvement isn't just about creating a community, it's more about staying actively engaged with that community to build lasting relationships and drive business results. Post often in groups, respond promptly, and create regular opportunities for your customers to get more involved with you.
Meet them in real life: With COVID restrictions nearly gone, bring back an in-person element to your community strategy and plan IRL events and opportunities to meet your customers in real life. This could manifest as product launch parties, fireside chats, neighborhood community socials, or another activity that aligns with your audience’s shared interests.
At Experify, we're committed to creating a new market for customer involvement. Our platform currently empowers businesses to involve their existing customers and superfans into new sales cycles, by leveraging authentic advice from real product owners to convert prospects and drive sales, and funneling back those conversational insights back to brands.
But we’re actively executing our vision to create a world where businesses involve their customers in every aspect of their operations. With features like real-time feedback, customer communities, and analytics, our platform will empower businesses of the future to create a culture of customer involvement that drives real results.
We believe that businesses that embrace authentic customer involvement will be best positioned to succeed and differentiate themselves in a crowded market, giving a competitive advantage that’s hard to replicate. By giving customers a well-earned seat at the table, businesses can build trust, drive innovation, and create thriving customer communities. We're excited to see what the future holds.
We build solutions to help companies engage and involve their customer communities. Come join the community-first revolution.