Customer service and customer experience are both essential components of a successful customer journey. While the terms are similar and they are closely related, they aren’t interchangeable. Up until fairly recently, the term customer service was more familiar to most people.
When you think of a direct communication or interaction between one of your brand representatives and a customer, it’s considered customer service. On the other hand, the term customer experience refers to the customer’s experience with your company as a whole.
As customers weigh doing business with your company again, they generally remember the reasons they’ve called you, and they may even remember specifics about a conversation they had with someone at your company. But details aside, they’ll remember how they felt when the call ended.
A quality customer service interaction contributes to an overall good customer experience, and that’s a reflection of your brand. However, good customer service by itself won’t result in a good customer experience overall.
There are similarities and differences between customer service and customer experience, and recognizing them will help you understand the role they play in building a successful business.
The Similarities Between Customer Service and Customer Experience
It’s true that customer service and customer experience are not one and the same. At the same time, they share a lot of qualities.
For instance, each has an important and distinct role within the customer journey. Also, targeted employee training and the tools you use in your call center give you a good deal of control over the quality of customer service, and ultimately the customer experience. The right communication, at the right time, and on the right channel all have a bearing on customer service and customer experience.
That is to say, digital tools give you the data and analytics to help you objectively evaluate customer service interactions and your customers’ satisfaction with your brand.
When your employees represent your company well, a good customer service interaction and an overall good customer experience leave your customers feeling well served. The benefit for your company is that it makes them eager to do business with you again.
The Differences Between Customer Service and Customer Experience
Although there are many similarities between customer service and customer experience, It’s the differences between them that really stand out.
Let’s do a quick breakdown of each:
- Providing a direct service for customers
- Answering customer questions
- Explaining how to use products
- Solving problems for customers
- Selling to customers
- Often initiated by the customer, causing employees to be reactive
- Is limited to one or more specific interactions
- Involves customer-facing employees
- Includes customer support as part of the bigger picture
- Refers to the customer journey in a broad sense
- Encompasses every way that your business interacts with customers
- Includes interactions outside of direct customer service
- May be affected by employees or departments that never see or speak to customers
- Includes how they interact with self-service support options
- Can be proactive where company strives to exceed customer expectations
- Factors the customers’ impressions of customer service
- Considers the overall, lasting impression that customers receive at every stage in the customer journey.
Unless a customer is making a fast impulse buy, it’s common for them to have multiple touchpoints with your company. Every touchpoint is part of the customer journey and how you make them feel every step of the way these two their unique customer experience.
The customer experience is a key brand differentiator which is why it’s an important area for businesses to focus on.
The Importance of Customer Service to The Customer Experience
Unless you’re offering a one-of-a-kind product or service, your customers have many choices for the companies they choose to do business with. The internet has opened up access to a wealth of options for today’s consumers. Customer expectations have grown in recent years because they have the ability to pick and choose at will.
If you put yourself in the customer’s position, you’re essentially looking for three things:
- A quality product or service
- Value for your money
- A good customer experience
If three companies were competing for your business, and only one of them meets all three criteria, it makes your decision pretty easy.
In years past, companies had the upper hand. The prevalence of online reviews and social media made customer experience less of a priority. They could easily impose barriers on their customers like mandatory time-based contracts, hefty penalties, and long wait times. As competition increased, companies were forced to start removing these barriers to prevent customer churn. It put customers in the position of deciding whether it was worth their while to switch to another company if they weren’t getting the product, value, or experience they wanted.
How Customer Service Improves the Customer Experience
So, how does customer service lend itself to the customer experience? It’s through each contact with your customer service agents that your customers develop an impression of your brand. Customers appreciate being served by customer service employees who are pleasant and helpful on a consistent basis when they interact with your company. If they know they can expect great customer service every time they contact your company, they eliminate the risk of going with a different company that doesn’t offer a good product, good value, or a good customer experience.
If a company wants to remain ahead of the competition, they need to excel in the products they manufacture, the pricing they offer, and the experience their employees deliver at every juncture of the customer journey. With every customer service interaction, your company has an opportunity to increase customer retention and brand loyalty, in the most direct way.
In today’s marketplace, the tables have turned. Customers are in the driver’s seat and they’re scoring every customer service interaction toward customer experience as a whole.
Best Practices for Customer Service and Customer Experience
How do you ensure that your customers get good customer service every time they contact you? How can you make sure they have a good customer experience with your brand? Best practices for customer service and customer experience provide some goals to strive for to encourage retention and prevent churn.
Here is a list of things you should be aiming for:
Meet customer expectations for convenience:
- Set up processes so customers can reach your company 24/7/365, even if it’s through self-service options like FAQs, chatbots, or a knowledge base.
Set up a live chat function:
- This will give customers the option to chat instead of making a phone call, if that is their preferred option.
Map out the customer journey:
- Regularly evaluate all the customer’s touch points to ensure that there are no breakdowns in the customer experience. Address any problems right away.
Take advantage of digital tools:
- Digital tools help you personalize customer support by using their names and information gathered from previous customer service interactions.
Utilize software integrations:
- This will help you provide options for multiple communication channels like live chat, email, and texting.
Customer service agents need to listen carefully:
- Make sure agents listen well to customer concerns and complaints. Ask clarifying questions to be sure they’re offering the right type of help.
- Customers often call companies because they’re having a problem or because they’re unhappy about something, so be empathetic right from the start.
Aim for first call resolution:
- You should aim to at least shorten the number of steps that you take customers through before resolving their issues.
Use software solutions that provide a single source of data:
- This allows call agents to interact with customers without making customers wait for long periods.
Follow up on unresolved issues:
- Automatic ticketing and other tools will ensure that you’re not overlooking important issues that could result in churn.
Establish and monitor your call metrics and KPIs:
- Evaluate call center activity like call volume, missed calls, average response time, and length of calls.
Provide regular and ongoing training:
Make sure your call center agents are well trained. You should also arrange for them to collaborate with each other to share information about how to best handle calls.
Record calls and monitor them:
Using Customer Insights to Improve the Customer Experience
Exactly what does the term customer insights mean? In simple terms, it refers to quantitative and qualitative data that you gather from customer feedback about their overall experience with your products or services. By collecting data, you’ll be able to identify buying trends and develop more effective marketing, sales, and customer service strategies.
So, how do you take every customer service interaction and maximize it to promote a positive customer experience and brand loyalty?
The right process starts with quality training for your call center agents. Concerning the tools you use, call center software and the right integrations to set up an effective workflow result in a good customer experience.
With Aircall, you get a robust set of voice call features to improve customer service. It’s easy to install and even easier for your call agents to use. These features are designed to streamline customer service for your customers:
- Toll-free and international numbers offer convenience.
- Interactive voice response (IVR), call routing, and call extensions get customers to the right person on the first call.
- Warm transfer allows call agents to briefly speak to another agent before transferring a call, so they’re prepared to address the customer’s concerns right from the start.
- Call commenting and assignment lets agents assign a call to another agent, leave a comment, and alert them immediately so customers get a quick response.
- Queueing and queue call back for calls ensures that customers get assistance at the earliest opportunity.
- Call recording lets you review calls for greater insight into common customer problems and helps identify areas for additional call agent training.
- Robust analytics give you insight into call volume, missed calls, and length of calls to help you scale your call center appropriately.
- CRM integrations give call agents access to useful data including contact information, call history, and comments for greater insight into repeat customer calls.
- Call monitoring and call whispering give call center managers insight into the areas where call center agents need help and allow them to give advice to call agents behind the scenes in real-time.
- Online insight cards give call agents greater context behind incoming calls by allowing them to pull in related data from other software integrations.
Cloud phone features will help your call center agents deliver better customer service. When you add software integrations, you get even greater capability, flexibility, and functionality to enhance your customer service operations.
Maximizing the Value of an App Marketplace
Here’s a small sampling from Aircall’s App Marketplace to demonstrate how to use software integrations to enhance your call center using solutions for quality assurance, omnichannel communication, data and reporting, and automated surveys:
- Quality Assurance – Apps like EvaluAgent and Klaus give you the right metrics to train new agents fast and track performance in your call center.
- Omnichannel – Easily switch from a phone call to text message using apps like Salesmsg or Textline to serve your customers on the channel they most prefer.
- Data and reporting – Build advanced dashboards and reports to customize your call center data so you can evaluate metrics and KPIs and set appropriate benchmarks. HappyFox BI and Plecto are a couple of good ones to check out.
- Automated surveys – Get greater visibility and control with automated survey apps like Nicereply or Postcall.io to gauge your call center agents’ morale and levels of engagement, and also get actionable insight into customer satisfaction using scoring and customer feedback.
True customer success is less about individual similarities and differences between customer service and customer experience. It is about how their synergy to ensure your customers are happy with every experience with your company. This will create trust and brand loyalty. The right tools, people, and processes will help to improve your relationships between customers and your brand. Making the right investments can guarantee the process doesn’t need to be complex or expensive. Good customer service leads to a good customer experience and that gives your customers plenty of reasons to choose your brand over the competition.