Customer Service vs. Customer Experience

Tuesday, 17 November 2015 08:30
By Joe Ablan 

What is the difference between customer service and customer experience, and why do people often get the two confused? Here is my take on it.

When you think about customer service, you might think about buying a sweater at a department store, where the retail clerk manages a smile as she hands you a bag with your newly purchased item inside. The service may have been fine, but it didn’t leave a lasting impression.

Customer experience is something much more. This constitutes an actual experience that leaves the customer with both a good feeling and a connection made with the company specifically. There is an overwhelming feeling that the decision to purchase from that company was the right one, and you are glad to be their customer. More importantly, great customer experience creates loyalty. It’s not just having a service representative change your address in the system or resolve a billing error. It’s an experience that is whole and complete and full of an assortment of meaningful interactions that lasts indefinitely.

Customer service is a reactive response while customer experience is proactive or, to take it further, interactive. For instance, when you call a customer service rep to resolve an issue, they are reacting to your problem. They fix it and then you both go on your own ways. It was not particularly impactful and you don’t think much about the encounter afterward. That’s customer service, which is absolutely important, but customer experience brings that interaction even one step further.

Great customer experience occurs when your rep is your advocate and your ally out in the trenches. They have your back when it comes to your needs and you know it. When you call to have a problem resolved, it is done with enthusiasm, care, and precision. Not only did your ally resolve your issue, but they found alternative ways to make things better as well. You get personalized attention, and it is understood that the rep genuinely cares about your needs. This is also called building a relationship, and relationships are what customer experience is all about.

Good customer experience reps take the time to build relationships with their customers and there is a genuine trust between them. A good customer experience rep is akin to that loyal family dog who gets enthusiastically excited the moment you walk through the door. That’s how glad they are to hear from their customers and how eager they are to help them. They make you proactively glad to be a customer of that company.

What’s interesting is that loyal customers expect and deserve more than just ordinary service. They want an “experience.” Having loyal customers, though, means you have to work hard to always meet their expectations. Therein lies the reward. Here are some things to consider when providing a great “experience” for your customers.

  • You have to know your customer and their needs.
  • Place value on the customer’s time. Resolve their issues timely and accurately so they can get back to their routines.
  • When the customer has a problem, own it. Make that issue your baby and resolve it as quickly and efficiently as possible.
  • Personalize the interaction. By doing this, the customer feels like they matter to you.
  • Follow up. Make sure the customer is happy with the resolution.

The important thing to take away is that it is essential to take that proactive extra step to consistently be building relationships and providing an overall positive customer experience for your customers.

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