Understanding the difference between customer experience and customer service

Customer Service vs Customer Experience 101

Nicholas PriceLast updated on February 22, 2023
6 min

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The relationship of customer service vs customer experience is important to define. With online shopping being so popular, customers now have many more touchpoints with brands. Instant access to information and multiple communication channels have changed how customers expect you to respond to their inquiries and requests.

Today’s customers expect you to answer their questions, solve their problems, and deliver a great product or service from the time they start thinking about a purchase. They also want you to be available throughout the relationship whenever they need it. Essentially, today’s customers want more than a mere sale. They expect you to continually put their needs first and give them a seamless, flawless experience with every touchpoint they encounter along the way.

While the terms customer service and customer experience aren’t the same, and people often use them interchangeably, they bear an important connection to each other. Overall, to be successful, companies need to direct their efforts as much to the customer experience as they do to customer service.

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Understanding Customer Service vs. Customer Experience

Up until recently, people have had greater familiarity with customer service than with customer experience. When you separate the two definitions, the differences become quickly apparent.

The definition of customer service is narrowly focused on specific communication and human interactions. Customer service refers to offering direct support. It’s the process of an employee giving help and advice to a customer about a product or service.

Customers prefer to communicate with a real human voice on the other end of the interaction. Regardless of which department the voice originates from, it’s a representation of your company to the customer.

Defining Customer Experience

On the other hand, customer experience, which is commonly abbreviated CX, is broadly defined. It encompasses much more than a single interaction with another individual from your company. This term portrays the collective experience of the entire relationship between you and your customers from beginning to end. It includes all interactions that you have with your customers including direct interactions, as well as non-traditional customer service responses. Interactions on how customers use your product or service, self-service interactions, interactions at brick-and-mortar retail stores, feelings and emotions about your brand, and interactions with your customer service team all fall under the umbrella of the customer experience.

Many different people and departments within your company provide touchpoints for customers. It’s important not to overlook the importance of the skills that customer-facing representatives need to possess to ensure that every customer has a positive customer experience. In addition to having sound product knowledge, employees that interact with your customers need to have good training on issues like how to keep their patience in challenging situations and how to be tenacious, yet polite.

To evaluate customer experience on the whole, you need to analyze the right data sets. This means drawing data from all customer-facing teams that contribute to the total customer experience with your product or service.

The Importance of the Customer Experience

Today’s customers are taking advantage of the internet to make informed decisions about their purchases. They tend to do more comparing before they buy than in the past. Customers are greatly influenced by the type of customer experience that they have with various companies.

To create an impactful customer experience, it’s important to continue working on specific customer service issues like shortening customer wait times and improving your ratings. In addition, you need to get into the customer’s head as they engage with your company. Your ultimate goal is to make the entire relationship clear, efficient, and easy at each touchpoint they encounter.

The key to exceeding your customers’ expectations is to focus on the customer experience. This approach increases consumer faithfulness and improves your bottom line.

Why Customer Service is Essential

The current business climate is such that customers expect more from the marketplace. Aggressive digital marketing campaigns that promise customers the best of everything are partially responsible for the increase in the demand for a stellar customer experience. Customer service representatives have to deliver on those promises.

Take a look at the following reasons for providing a good customer experience:

  • Customers demand excellent customer service.

  • Great customer service inspires loyalty.

  • Long-term customers increase revenue.

  • Devoted customers will expand your business by referring others.

  • It costs you less to keep customers than to acquire new ones.

Customer service is an essential part of your business because your customers demand it. When you can deliver on the promise of an excellent customer experience, you inspire long-term loyalty in your brand and lasting consumer relationships will increase revenue.

In fact, a 5% increase in retention will increase your profits between 25% and 95%.  Forbes reported that you have a 60%-70% chance of making a sale to a current customer as opposed to only a 5%-20% chance of success selling to a new customer.

Zendesk sponsored a survey performed by Dimensional Research that showed the following:

  • 62% of B2B customers purchased more after a good experience.

  • 66% of B2B customers stopped making purchases after a bad experience.

  • 42% of B2C customers purchased more after a good experience.

  • 52% of B2C customers stopped making purchases after a bad experience.

There’s a good chance that if you’re not providing an excellent customer experience, your competition is.

Improving Customer Experience & Customer Service

Overall, the way to improve customer experience and customer service is to become more customer- centric at every touchpoint.

You need to be sure that every department is delivering on all of your promises. When you can surprise a customer with extra care and support, you’ve succeeded in providing a good customer experience.

Something easy that you can do to improve customer experience and customer service is to develop a set of guiding principles that describe excellence in customer experience and share them across departments.

Another simple thing approach to improving your response to customers is to narrowly define your target audience segments and meet their needs. Consider your target audience’s age, gender, cultural differences, etc.

Actively monitor your social media channels. Most customers use them every day and they may choose to contact you through a social media channel at the same time. This gives you an opportunity to meet them on the spot and answer their questions.

Bear in mind that purchasing decisions are emotional for customers. The Journal of Consumer Research reported that over 50% of a customer’s experience is shaped by their attitudes and emotions. Train your customer-facing representatives to form an emotional connection with your customers and respond to them in real-time whenever possible.

You’re bound to get continual feedback from your customers. To improve customer experience, you’ll need to assess it continually. A once-a-year look at feedback isn’t sufficient considering the current pace of business.

Choosing the Right Technology for Customer Service

Your customers are researching your business from various angles using different devices. Don’t be afraid to take on the challenge to give them an omnichannel experience so that no matter how they try to contact you, you can respond immediately.

Whether your business is small or large, a customer support call center with a cloud-based phone system can help you deliver on the promise of a good customer experience. A well-equipped, well-trained call center gives you an opportunity to make use of some combination of self-service tools and human interaction to ensure that you’re meeting each customer’s needs right away.

Aircall’s phone system easily integrates with your CRM and other applications so you can deliver a customized experience with ease. This system has the ability to incorporate chat, email, call history, call routing, queue callback, and other valuable features to give your customers that multi-channel experience they’re looking for. Also, Aircall’s system gives you the foundation for all the right tools to pursue outbound calling campaigns to strengthen your customer relationships long after the initial sale. It’s the phone system for modern businesses to ensure you’re delivering the best customer experience possible.

Published on August 24, 2020.

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