Customer engagement as an act is defined as connecting with customers, on the pillars of trust, interest, and loyalty towards the brand. But, many brands are pushing too much, turning customer engagement into customer entrapment.

The process of interacting with customers across channels, and strengthening the relationship with them should be totally based on their will and interest. For many firms, this process begins with the very initial interaction and extends beyond the point of purchase. Firms can engage with customers through social media, websites, email, community forums, or any other space for communicating or consuming content.

Customer engagement often turns into customer entrapment, even if unknowingly. Customer entrapment is the action of enticing or luring an individual to do something; to catch, as if in a trap.

But, it’s time to pause and question whether the company is engaging or entrapping its customers?

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Customer engagement is all about the work done to build the relationship, which is based on trust and loyalty. Many brands are engaging with customers purely for growth and acquisition purposes – and not for retention.

Honestly, most brands don’t recognize or care about the difference between entrapping and engaging their customers. Most marketing gimmicks or acquisition tactics – like promotions, freebies, discounts – are simply fake entrapment tactics.

But, the outcomes of engagement and retention are strongly built on tactics and not on long-term CX strategies rooted in customer-centric cultures.

Loyalty programs or long term subscription models, on the other hand, are meant to engage or entrap – but ultimately, for most brands, they end-up entrapping customers for short term motives. They offer rewards for loyalty, but they punish harder for failing to be loyal. In the end, customers might just be loyal to the loyalty program due to the fear of losing on loyalty points or funds.

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The brands that truly want to engage customers through outcome and not means – focus on designing a customer-centric culture, prioritize customer requirements, and deliver great experiences. Once the focus is on satisfying customers and matching their expectations, retention comes automatically. Anything short of this is a gimmick or, in better terms, “customer entrapment.”

Any enterprise wishing to endure over a long period of time, staying in a healthy and growing state certainly wants a trusting, non-manipulative relationship with its customers rather than a relationship that is quick fleecing and temporary.