Close your eyes for a few moments. Think back on your last family holiday, hopefully somewhere nice. Feels like a long time ago, doesn’t it?

Now think of all the things you had to organise. Hotel accommodation, cheap flights, foreign currency, hire cars, taxis to and from airports, half price tickets to attractions and probably a load of others we won’t talk about here.

Each of those interactions was with a business of some description. Think back about your experience with each of them. Was their website easy to navigate? Did they make it easy for you to decide? What did other tourists have to say about the business? Did they send you special offers to entice you to engage with them? Did they anticipate your needs and propose products and services that you may not have thought about? Did you encounter problems when dealing with any one of those businesses? How easy was it to complain? Could you comment on their Facebook page or Twitter? How quickly did someone get in touch with you to address your concerns? Were you treated well during these interactions? Did they make you feel good? Would you engage with these businesses again?

As consumers of the products and services being offered by these businesses, each one of us has a good idea of what is a good experience and what leaves much to be desired. Would you be more inclined to talk about your experiences (good or bad) to your friends and family? Remember both excellent experiences and horrific experiences are memorable.

Now open your eyes. As a customer, we know what pleases us and what doesn’t. As a business providing products and services to our customers, can we look at ways of engaging with customers in a way that will keep them loyal? More importantly, can we get them to talk about us positively so more customers will be attracted?

Customer Engagement has been around for as long as customers have existed. The reason this acquires a much more urgent dimension in today’s business context is that the customers are getting less patient with businesses who do not appear to care. When there is a competitor who is willing to provide a better experience, customers switch loyalties more readily now than they have ever done in the past. So the question for companies is not if they can afford to adopt technology to support Customer Engagement, but really if they can afford not to do this.