When most of us started in business, the buying selling was one-on-one, often done by a handshake. Today’s business leaders keep that alive, but recognize the need for a multi-channel experience before and after the sale.

Almost anything you read today talks about customer engagement and customer experience. It’s not because those are the latest buzzwords, it’s because customer engagement and experience really affects your bottom line. 90% of the respondents in The State Of Customer Experience Management, 2013 survey conducted by Forrester Research indicated that customer experience is a top strategic priority for their company.

Today’s digital customer behavior

Your customers connects with you via multiple channels, each touchpoint contributes to your customer experience. Technology has given us many ways to connect with each other. Mobile access and proliferation of mobile devices has changed the way we behave. Today, your customers engage with you digitally via multiple devices, often crossing between devices.

Whether your customer is in the stage of awareness, consideration, purchase, or post-purchase your customer will be engaging with you through these moments with varying needs digitally.

Broadening your opportunities via digital engagement

When we think of engagement, most default to focus on engaging customers via social media. Remember that social is only a part of a larger opportunity to engage your customer digitally. Using paid, owned and earned media, you have a much larger opportunity to engage with your customers digitally through your customer’s journey to purchase.

Planning your digital engagement

Having to engage with your customer digitally is imminent, planning for your customer’s experience is important - this is no easy feat. This starts with bringing down silos - opening collaboration among departments that currently don’t talk to each other. Aligning those groups to provide a unified digital experience is key to your bottom line - we all know engaged customers equal sales.

Some companies are taking this direction by appointing Chief Digital Officers - for example, Starbucks recently appointed Adam Brotman as their CDO (Chief Digital Officer) to oversee all digital projects including web, mobile, social media, digital marketing, and Starbucks digital network.

Think about digital engagement for a moment, what are some ways your customers engage with you digitally?

  • Search
  • Website visit
  • Social media
  • Email
  • Online video
  • Display advertising
  • Other websites that review or mention you

As you can already tell, there are multiple opportunities for you to engage your customer - in most instances, your customers will engage with you via more than one channel, with several different needs through their customer journey.

If you are thinking about these for the first time, it’s OK, your opportunities are only growing. But hurry, these disruptive digital customer behaviors are what paved way to successes like Netflix over Blockbuster video and Amazon over Barnes & Noble.