Customer Experience Isn’t Customer Service

Customers now want great customer experience over customer service. But wait, how is customer experience any different from customer service? Aren’t they one and the same? Well, you’re not alone! With brands moving toward a customer-centric approach, customer experience (CX) and customer service (CS) have become two sides of the same coin. But since brands had little to do with customer experience earlier, differentiating one from the other is tricky.

CX and CS have become the game changers of every business. If you want them both to work in your favor, you need to begin with the basics.

Customer Experience vs Customer Service

Customer experience is the way a customer feels about a brand before, during, and after the entire purchase journey. It is more than just resolving customer issues or throwing in a discount to win them back after a bad incident. It’s all about creating a seamless experience for the customer right from the time they have the need for a product or service.

Customer service, on the other hand, is the assistance provided by a brand when customers find any issues after they purchase any product or service. It is an important aspect of a business that retains existing customers. It is safe to say that customer service is a subset of customer experience.  

Role of CX and CS in Customer Journey

If I have to explain how to improve CX and CS in business, it is important that we consider the customer’s overall purchase journey that has five stages.

1. Awareness

Like I mentioned earlier, CX becomes a part of every customer’s journey right from the time they have a need for a product. As a first step towards fulfilling this need, they need to know where to find the product and from whom to purchase it. To start with, they look it up on the Internet and learn about the various brands.

As a brand, there are a number of things that you can do to ensure that the prospective customer notices you or becomes aware of your brand. For example, an artist named Alicia Souza uses social media to bring in business for her website that sells accessories and gift items. Her funny illustrations are shared by many people thereby creating a massive brand awareness. As a result, when the customer looks for fun accessories or gifts, her name is sure to pop up. And customers are likely to form a positive impression of her brand.

customer experience

Similarly, here are some of the things you can do to increase your brand awareness

– optimize your website for search engines

– boost your online presence in social media (don’t forget LinkedIn)

– post Google Ad

– create email campaigns and newsletters to attract new users

Whatever your method, keep in mind that rich content is the forerunner for all of them. Right from a catchy title to a stylish picture, every single detail counts for the first impression. Click To Tweet

2. Consideration

This is the second stage where the customer is interested in your brand and wants to know about it further. They check your website and look up customer reviews for credibility. Some of them would even mail you to obtain information on return policies and payment methods. The kind of customer experience your brand offers at this stage is crucial to win their hearts and take them to next step. After all, you don’t want them to go to your competitor, do you?

It is the brand’s responsibility to create a positive customer experience by being active on social media platforms and keeping their website up to date in all aspects. For example, Barclays bank has left no stone unturned in getting the attention of customer through their website design. Right from the website tab name that boasts their history to the inclusion of growth reports on their main page, they give no room for any second thoughts.

barclays customer experience

Here are a few things you could implement to increase your brand credibility:

– make your website experience easy and interactive

– pay attention to happy customers and include their testimonials on your website

– share how you influence customer lives on social media pages

– get influencers to recommend your brand

– add knowledge base and chatbot to offer instant solutions to customer questions

This way, you are creating a customer experience that gives them confidence and trust on your brand.

PS: I hear you. The customer service part comes only in fourth stage.

3. Decision

Now that the customer is convinced with your brand, they are ready to make the purchase decision. However, the number of steps taken by them to hit the pay button varies with each industry. While buying a product from an online store gets over within five to six steps, buying software can take up to 20 back and forth conversations. And in both scenarios, customer experience plays a major part in nudging the customer towards payment.

For example, a customer who wants to buy Freshdesk customer support software can sign up for a free 21 day trial. During the trial period, the customer gets to use the helpdesk and they get a demo of the product. The success of this entire process depends on the product experience and the way the salesperson treats the customer.

freshdesk customer support software

All of these come under customer experience which has the potential to influence the customer’s buying decision.

In this stage, you need to make sure that none of the touch points are broken and should address questions on safety of information, trust and swiftness. Some of the things you can do for a better experience are

– easy navigation and a clean product description sans fine print

– include a thank you page

– availability through chat or phone to aid customers in completing the purchase

– add case studies to your website for social proof

– throw in special offers and discounts

Pro tip: Remember the paradox of choice? Avoid showing too many options/product suggestions on the same page.

4. Retention

This stage helps maintain a good post-purchase relationship between your brand and the customer. There are two subsets to this stage where customer experience and customer service are involved individually.

In case your customer is happy with the purchase experience, make sure that they return to your website for more products or subscribe for higher plans. Find ways to engage with them even after purchase. Some of the ways in which you can do this include

– proactively ask them for feedback on their purchase experience

– upsell or cross-sell another product based on relevancy

– suggest relevant products based on purchase history or customer persona

On the other hand, when the customer is unhappy because the product was faulty or didn’t meet their expectations, they will reach out to you for help or solution. You (your customer support team) need to empathize with them, find out what’s gone wrong, and provide a solution. And while you are shipping out a replacement or raising a refund, you need to check the source of the problem and fix it. If you make the effort to do all of this swiftly, it not only neutralizes the negative experience for the customer but also has them coming back to you for more business. Some of the things that make up an excellent customer service are

– prompt apology for the inconvenience caused

– keep the customer informed of the refund/shipping process

– availability of customer service agent throughout conflict resolution

5. Advocacy

People talk about both their positive and negative experiences with a brand on social media, through word of mouth, email, or by sharing content without any incentive other than their love/dislike for the brand. In fact, on an average, an individual will tell 9 people about good experiences, and 16 people about poor ones.

When you successfully pull off a long-term relationship with your customer, all you have to do is ask them to share your brand with their friends. After all, nothing can match the power of word of mouth marketing.

Now, I’m sure you don’t want to lose 16 prospective customers because of one bad customer review/experience. This is why turning your customers into positive brand advocates is very important. Though it depends on the quality of your customer experience and customer service in previous stages, find ways to win back your unhappy and frustrated customers.

Key Differences between CX and CS

Customer experience vs Customer service

*These are the top two out of the various metrics to measure CS and CX

Measuring CX and CS

Metrics are a great way to monitor how your brand is doing in terms of customer experience and customer service. Although there are various metrics, there are two crucial ones to measure the performance of CX and CS respectively.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

The net promoter score tells you whether or not your customers will recommend your product or service to others. Based on their score, they are categorised into promoter, passive or detractor. The score indicates what the customer thinks about the overall customer experience and it gives a clear idea on the customer loyalty. In case a significant number of customers give a low score, you get to know that you need to improve in certain areas.

nps

– Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

This metric is used to analyse the quality of the customer service. CSAT score indicates how your support team is doing and lets them collect a detailed feedback from customers. A good CSAT score helps increase the brand reputation and customer loyalty. On the other hand, a low score means it is time to rebuild your brand’s support strategy.

Conclusion

At a time when business strategies are changing as we speak, it is very important that every company begins to understand the fine line between customer experience and customer service. Both are similar yet different in many ways and turn out to be powerful when used to one’s advantage. And, most companies look at customer experience as an unnecessary burden and customer service as a cost center. But, a good balance between the two is what every company needs at this moment to build a killer customer journey.

So, what’s your take on CX and CS? Leave your comments here; We are all ears!