Inspired Incentives

Employee Engagement and Customer Engagement – What's the Difference?

Posted by Devin Ferreira

Thu, Mar 21, 2013 @ 03:52 PM

motivationAt HMI, we have a lot of discussions about our engagement within our incentive programs. We’re always looking for ways to improve our strategy, including studying and researching everything from behavioral psychology to consumer trends. With the topic of engagement, one wrinkle that occasionally comes up involves the nuances of customer engagement versus employee engagement. What are the driving motivations behind each? How can the two complement one another?

We decided to reach out to a few of our sales gurus at HMI to get their take on what they believe the motivations behind customer engagement and employee engagement are, and how they can be used together. Here are some interesting details gleaned from these exchanges:

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  • The biggest advantage of an employee engagement program is the captive audience. There’s no external competitor vying for the participant’s attention, and this can essentially remove aspects of innovation from the program that might otherwise be necessary.
  • Employee engagement programs often require a great deal of recognition-related rewards, such as plaques and trophies, with their basic goal being to improve morale, attendance, and overall company culture.
  • Customer engagement programs are generally grounded in sales. They’re designed to reward increased sales revenues, better margins, more skus sold, and Steps To The Sale (STTS) behaviors (such as training, certifications, deal registrations, etc.). The idea here is to differentiate oneself in order to gain mind and market share, and this inevitably takes certain measures of innovation.
  • Engaging customers is always much more effective when there’s a vested sales team that has a “skin in the game.” The best engagement programs typically occur with companies that offer their employees and customers a similar rewards selection. In an effective incentive program, one group can influence the other’s success–for example, the behavior of employees, whether or not they feel incentivized to pursue a questionable lead, or to go above and beyond their annual quota, etc., can significantly impact the level of customer engagement.
  • In order to be successful, any engagement program must possess certain fundamentals:


1)Achievable and measurable goals

2)Exciting rewards

3)A rewards platform that is both unique and easy to understand

4)Consistent communications with participants

5)Timely and professional award delivery



Regardless of whom the participants are, if you can begin a program with these basic principles in mind, your program will be on its way to achieving elevated engagement – for both employees as well as customers. Once you’ve reached this point, then you can worry about the incentive program details. Or just leave that to us.

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Topics: Loyalty Programs, Employee Motivation

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