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It is common knowledge that acquiring customers is more expensive than keeping them, which is just one of the reasons that customer engagement is critical to your brand.

The best brands take advantage of every interaction and every opportunity to create a great experience; to gain customer loyalty and form a strong bond. Whether your action with customers is in person, over the phone or on the web, finding a way to get your customer to commit for the long haul is worth every penny and should be an integral part of any marketing plan.

These types of experiences don’t just happen. It’s training your employees to be your ambassadors of experience, allowing customers to make an emotional connection to your business. Doing it correctly will have your customers going out of their way to buy from you first, even if they have to pay more or drive miles to make their purchase.

We hear stories everyday about stellar customer experiences or see them first-hand with businesses we frequent.

A friend of ours relayed a story to us about her experiences with Carson Kitchen, a restaurant in Downtown Las Vegas that is 30 minutes from her home. Despite the location, she considers the restaurant her “neighborhood go-to” because that’s how they make her feel. When she walks in, the manager acknowledges her as if she’s a family friend, even when he might not have seen her for six months. During a recent outing one of the chefs (she likes to sit by the chef’s kitchen when she dines there) whom she met just once, months ago, remembered her and started up a conversation. Sure, the restaurant has great food, but she said she goes out of her way to dine there often because of the experience she has, from the minute she walks into the place to the minute she leaves. She is now loyal to the core.

You don’t have to be a brick and mortar establishment to create such an experience. Do you make it easy for your customer to get in touch with you via the phone, chat or email, or do you make your contact information hard to find? If you have a social media presence or reputation management program, do you engage with your customers, whether they say something good or something bad, or do you think these types of marketing tools are just another way to promote? Think of all of these as potential opportunities to engage your customer and form that special bond and emotional connection to your brand.

Too often, business owners and marketers only pay attention to the branding and marketing strategies that attracts customers. While of course that is of great importance, if a business doesn’t deliver on those brand promises when a customer crosses into the brand, crossing the “brand threshold” as we call it, the strategy falls flat. A business needs to deliver on their brand promises when that customer crosses the threshold and interacts with the brand one-on-one.

That is ultimately what turns us into happy and loyal customers.