If you have an online business, you want to understand how your users are engaging with your business, so that you can better serve them and sell to them.

You can assess customer engagement in two ways:

  • By what a person says
  • By what a person does.

Measuring what people do and what people say should be kept as two separate but complementary measurements.  Why:

  • People’s words and actions tend to be positively correlated so having separate measures of the two enables a sanity check.
  • But, as we all know from experience, sometimes people do not do what they say.  When this happens, it is important to recognize it and investigate why.

What they say

What a person says includes responses to net promoter and voice of the customer surveys, comments in social media, and the content of email and voice communication between the customer and the company. As an example, let's look at more at Net Promoter Score which is a common metric for scoring what people say about your business.   Here is how it works:

You can have an NPS score for a business or a segment of a business.  It gives you one number to compare how your customers feel about your business over time or how customers in different segments compare against one another.

The number itself is just the beginning.  Companies that have found success with Net Promoter Score have taken the time to investigate trends and anomalies, drilling down all the way to the individual customer’s survey data and follow-up comments.

Another example of what they say, is social media.  Some of this can be captured in what people do.   For example, a positive tweet or negative tweet and a Like, can all be captured as actions or behaviors along with frequency of tweet.  A more nuanced understanding of the content of the social media message, would fall under what people say.

What they do

What a person does includes customers’ multi-channel visits, actions taken during those visits, and business data.  For example, it includes liking on Facebook, calling support, visiting the web application, uploading a file, using a feature like collaborate, and the fact that the user spent $1000 this month.

As an example, let's look at Apptegic’s Customer Engagement scoring system which provides one way of calculating customer engagement.  On a per customer basis, we calculate each customers':

  1. Visit behavior based on Total Visits, Unique Visits, Breadth, Depth, Duration, Recency, and Reliance
  2. Clickstream level actions Taken.  Based on the actions that are important for this business.  We might measure the number of actions in a certain time period and/or the reliance of the user on that action over time.
  3. Business KPIs (amount of revenue, number of purchases, number of documents uploaded, etc).  The key metrics that matter to your business

For each user, each day these components are weighted and combined to calculate a customer engagement score.   For each account, segment, and business, the user scores are aggregated to provide one number that represents engagement.

This Customer Engagement score can then be used to understand what people are doing in your business by comparing across time or across segments.

Like with NPS, it is useful to have one number to begin the comparison, indicate trends, and alert to anomalies.  Successful businesses will dig further into the underlying components of the engagement scores to understand more and learn which actions to take.

Comparing Net Promoter Score and Customer Engagement Score

The following table outlines some of the differences:

Net Promoter Score

Customer Engagement Score


What a person says

What a person does








Small % response rate

100% coverage


If I had to pick one, I would choose Customer Engagement Score because I think what people do is more indicative of their engagement and more predictive of their future behavior than what they say.  However, both are needed.  There are things that a survey will tell you about the reasons behind a persons’ actions that simply observing those actions will not.