Despite what you may have previously assumed, customer service and customer experience are actually two separate things. However, both are still vitally important to customer satisfaction and loyalty. So, what is the difference and why should you start with customer experience?
You could have been forgiven for assuming that ‘customer experience’ was just another term for ‘customer service’ because of the close relationship between the two concepts, but they are in fact separate. Customer experiences derive from and are shaped by the customer service that you provide. A customer experience is the journey that your customer takes through your process, while customer service is represented by the points of interaction between your company and your customers.
An easier way to remember this is the fact that you can only provide customer service when you are in direct contact with your customers, but you are providing customer experience all of the time.
When a customer contacts your customer service department, waiting in a long queue, following frustrating automated instructions or a bad quality line, can all provide a negative experience for the customer before you’ve even had a chance to attempt to rectify their issue.
Customers have experiences with your company before even trying to make contact with you. A customer may search your FAQ’s page on your website, for example, for a solution to their issue. That is part of the experience. The effort it takes them to find the answer they are looking for, the usability of your website and the usefulness of the solution you provide will all shape their user experience, before they’ve even reached for their phone or opened up a new email message.
When building your customer service plans and processes, consider the customer experience. Put yourself in their shoes. Map out the different stages in the journey that the customer will take. From here you will be able to identify different areas that require different types of responses from your customer services team.
For example, if a customer is made to wait 30 minutes in a queue and they find the on-hold audio irritating, then when they eventually get through to a customer service agent, they are already going to be frustrated.
By carefully considering customer experiences before a customer service plan, you will minimise your number of unhappy customers and will be better prepared to offer the appropriate response.
For more information on improving your customer experience, please contact us on 0800 0931 830.