What is Engagement: A Product Perspective
Engagement is hot. We see engagement as important in many aspects of our business lives. So what is engagement and what types are we interested in?
Let’s define the term engagement and then productEngagementlook at the various uses in today’s business world. Two of the basic definitions of engagement are as follows:
To hold the attention of; engross (e.g. “Her work engages her completely.”)
To induce to participate (e.g. “She engaged the shy boy in conversation.”)
So according to the above definition, engagement is the ability to hold the attention of an individual or to induce the individual to participate in some sort of activity.
In our hyper-connected, uber competitive, always-on, and therefore highly distracted world, we are rightfully concerned about engagement. And it comes in different forms:
- employee engagement, or a workplace approach designed to ensure that employees are committed to their organization’s goals and values, motivated to contribute to organizational success and are able at the same time to enhance their own sense of well being.
- online engagement as a measure of success is not a new concept online, though it is one that has ever been clearly defined. The reason for this difficulty is that online engagement means different things to different people.
The first known mention of customer engagement was in the 2001 Gallup Business Journal article, “The Constant Customer.” That article does not actually define customer engagement, but it does explore how to increase loyalty by understanding customers. Years later there is still no single accepted definition of customer engagement. What we can offer as one definition for CE (yes it’s an acronym) is the engagement of customers with one another, with a company or with a brand. The initiative for engagement can be either consumer or company led and the medium of engagement can be on or offline.
No matter where we look, we want engagement. But one area we have forgotten about is the product itself; how are our customers engaging with what we are selling?
For some context, not only are we more interested in engagement in every other aspect of our business, but we also are building our products differently than we ever did before. One reason why is we want a more engaging product. In order to achieve that goal, many of today’s product teams are Agile. They build, test and iterate to better meet customer needs and stay ahead of competition. How we learn from and educate customers also needs to change to keep up.
So what is Product Engagement? Product engagement is about understanding how customers engage with your product at the most granular level and how can you affect that customer behavior to maximize their usage of your application.
To increase product engagement, we need to think differently. The way we measure customer usage and the way we educate customers about new features needs to change. We need to do more than just announce features via email blasts, FAQs, and webinars. We also need to teach them about features in our applications. We need to constantly measure their usage, so we can not only improve our products, but also learn the most effective ways to teach our customers to use our products to solve their problems.