What’s the difference between customer service and customer experience?
While both are important, customer service is a component of customer experience (CX). That’s because CX is the totality of all contact between the customer and business. This includes how the customer discovers your business, and researches, buys and uses your product or service. In short, it’s how the customer interacts with your business at all stages.
The stages of customer experience
For example, if you have an e-commerce business selling home appliances, CX includes:
- Finding your business – Is it easy to find your website when searching for an appliance? Can prospective customers find you on social media? If you are difficult to find from the beginning, this has a negative impact on the person’s experience as a customer.
- Interacting with your business – Is it easy to learn about your products on your website? For example, do you make it possible to search by product criteria such as price range and size? If your website is difficult to use, this negatively affects customer experience. In addition, if the customer has questions about any products, are you able to answer them quickly by phone, email or live chat? If the customer has to wait 24 hours to wait for an answer, it probably won’t be a positive experience, especially if they need to receive your product quickly.
- Purchasing from your business – After making a decision, how easy is it to make the purchase? If for any reason it’s difficult to purchase from you it will diminish customer service. For example, if there’s a problem with making credit card payments and the customer has to make several attempts or call you, it diminishes the overall experience.
- Getting the product from your business – In our appliance example, how quickly and professionally is the product delivered to the customer? Is the customer kept up to date on the status of delivery? Is product correctly packaged for delivery? All these factors influence customer perception, customer satisfaction and overall customer experience.
- Getting customer service from your business – During the sales process and purchase and after delivery, customer service is your response to customer questions and requests. The effectiveness of your customer service will influence customer experience.
Ways to improve customer experience
A focus on customer experience will go a long way to meet customer expectations and uphold your brand promise. Most businesses are stronger in some stages of the customer journey and weaker in others. The first step for improving CX is identifying the stages along the journey and determining how customer-centric each stage is. Surveying customers about their experience could be one way of uncovering key customer issues that are diminishing the experience of interacting with your business. Another way is to look for common areas where complaints or issues arise.
Creating a customer experience strategy
Once you have determined the steps along the customer journey and the ones that seem to be lacking, you can begin improving the situation. Does one stage of the customer journey tend to create more questions, issues or complaints from customers? If so, this will be a good place to begin in improving customer experience.
One point to look at is how various departments interact throughout the CX journey. For example, is the warehouse is not keeping sales up to date on stock levels and customers are receiving their products later than expected, it’s time to address cross-functional communication. Of course, there are many other reasons why the customer experience could not be as positive as it could be. It can take a bit of detective work to uncover that cause of the problem but it will be worth the effort when CX improves so you can stand apart from the competition.