Customer Experience (CX) and Customer Service have become quite ubiquitous in recent times. Many mistake them to be synonymous, but they aren’t.
Customer experience (CX) is fast emerging as a key differentiator and growth driver for a sustainable consumer market base. Gartner defines customer experience as “the customer’s perceptions and related feelings caused by the one-off and cumulative effect of interactions with a supplier’s employees, systems, channels or products.”
CX entails an individual’s perception about a brand formed, based on a single or multiple interactions with a brand while seeking any support or information at different phases of the customer lifecycle. Customers are now well-connected and highly informed about the products they are using, and make informed decisions about what they want to invest in. 88 per cent of customers read reviews before making a purchase online to ensure the quality of their experience.
Engaging customers has become a task which takes time, effort, and customisations aligned with their needs. This could be a result of options available for a single product category, as well as awareness and analysis by consumers.
With a growing number of communication platforms and channels, brands are pouring investments in technology platforms that allow them to improve customer experience across channels in a personalised manner.
For example, putting the customer first has worked really well for Amazon. The billion-dollar tech giant started as a small online bookstore, but now it has left the likes of Walmart, FedEx, Etsy, FootLocker, Walgreens and others, behind, while it continues to disrupt industries and enhance the customer experience. “We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient,” Jeff Bezos told The Washington Post in an interview.
However, What about Customer Service?
Customer service is one fraction of a whole gamut of customer experience. Customer service can be defined as the support or assistance provided by an organisation to its customers who are facing issues while purchasing a product, replacing it, or simply enquiring about a certain item. The main goals of customer service are as follows:
- Ease the entire process for customers – from booking online to troubleshooting problems in software they bought from your company
- Increase customer satisfaction
- Increase reliability and credibility via genuinely helping customers in a personalised manner
- Sharing the best knowledge about how to use a certain product/service to its fullest potential
- Ensure that customers have a great buying experience
While customer service focuses explicitly on questions posed by customers before or after purchasing from their company, customer experience is the overall experience or perception of a brand as a result of comprehensive interactions that took place during the buyer’s journey.
Difference between Customer Service and Customer Experience
Customer Service is a reactive process which comes into play only when a customer contacts the customer service/support team regarding some information or query for a particular product they are interested in. The customer service team can only take action post a message, call, or email from the customer’s end and not beforehand.
It usually focuses on a one-time interaction where the end goal is to resolve the customer’s queries given at that time. Customers get acquainted with the customer service either before or after they have made a purchase.
Customer Experience is a proactive process which can be optimised according to the customer’s needs and interests to ensure the customer becomes satisfied. CX does not solely depend on the customer service department. Instead, it is a holistic approach that goes beyond any specific team and is the responsibility of everyone in the organisation.
In addition to this, CX takes into account the entire journey of a customer with your company. It aims at building long-lasting relationships with customers and eventually fostering an environment where the brand itself becomes the go-to option for the customers.
Customer experience is an amalgamation of all interactions and perceptions that are built right from when your customers first discovered your company to researching a particular product to purchasing to following up with your team for the feedback. CX measures how customers feel about your company on the whole and includes physical, emotional, and psychological connection customers have with your brand.
One of the most important terms in delivering good CX is customer care, which implies genuinely taking care of your customer’s needs and expectations. Apart from just focusing on one single interaction aimed at answering specific questions, customer care means listening to your customers with a wider perspective, going a step ahead and beyond to make sure that your customers are happy.
Competing brands are offering product parity and competitive prices; the key differentiator is to have an excellent customer experience by interacting and engaging with your customers consistently. With the ease of switching brands, customers now tend to focus more on their personal experience, how they are treated, what value a certain company is providing and then decide if they want to buy their service/ product or not.
Five Reasons Why You Should Invest in Customer Experience
1. Reinforce Brand Preference
Every brand promises the top-most deal, best-quality product, and affordable prices, but how many offer true value to their customers? Help them get the best of a product, or pick one in the first place that suits their needs? Treating your customers in a personalised manner can give them a sense of reliability and increase your chances of becoming their brand preference. Customers are delighted when they receive customised experiences. Brands that focus on CX across all touch-points have a higher number of loyal customers.
2. Reduce Customer Churn
Creating an experience impresses consumers and ensures that they keep coming back to your brand in future as well. A superior personal experience becomes a valuable asset to an organisation when done in the right manner.
Acquiring new customers or generating new leads costs seven times more as compared to retaining existing customers. Investing in your existing customers will pay off and will generate significant results in the future.
3. Inspire Customer Advocacy
There are few things which impact a brand’s reputation more than their product or their pricing terms. Creating an excellent customer experience journey is an imperative part of building a credible and reliable reputation that goes a long way. The way you respond to unhappy customers will determine their opinion about your brand afterwards.
Word-of-mouth publicity is still one of the strongest marketing tactics in the world. In fact, 84% of consumers do not trust advertisements anymore. People are now seeking third-party validation or personal references before making an online purchase. Memorable customer experiences tend to make customers loyal towards a brand, and happy customers are the best brand ambassadors for any organisation.
4. Increase Customer Satisfaction
According to the Genesys Global Survey, bad customer service costs companies USD 338.5 billion globally per year in lost business. In reality, good CX boils down to customer satisfaction, which is a mix of scale, quality and efficiency. Brands have to be dependable, accurate and provide value to their customers to truly stand out.
A key factor for ensuring a good CX is the ability to deliver what you promised and surprise the customer by going the extra mile for them. An organisation should focus on creating a consistent customer experience across all its platforms and channels to exceed customer’s expectations and ensure they are content with the services.
5. Leave Competitors Behind
The year 2019 is the year of adding personalisation to all your campaigns. It gives a competitive edge over other organisations and helps propel your company forward.
Enhancing the overall CX can lead to increased sales, improved customer retention, higher lead generation, and satisfied customers, which in turn leads to higher sales – it is a continuous cycle which benefits brands and helps them stay longer in the consumer market.
In a nutshell, if you plan on to become the leading brand or a go-to choice for your targeted customers, it is time you start creating customer-centric strategies that could help increase customer satisfaction levels throughout their journey. Remember that customer experience as well as customer service, both hold different positions in a customer’s journey and are crucial to the organisation.
Compromising with either one can be detrimental. Start taking an optimal approach towards how to interact with your customers, request feedbacks, understand what they are saying from a human perspective and not just a company employee. Add a personal touch that they do not get anywhere else, and this will give you an edge over other competitors in the market.