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The difference between customer service and customer experienceApril 17th, 2019 by
When it comes to interactions with businesses, the term “customer service” has been king for decades. You’ve probably trained your staff on how they should interact with each customer, and customers have high expectations as to how your employees will treat them.
But because we’re now more connected than ever before, thanks to social media and ubiquitous Wi-Fi, standards have changed. Customers want more than just a friendly voice on the phone—they want an easy-to-navigate website, plentiful reviews of your business online, prompt responses to their questions, and a smooth, transparent project from beginning to end.
Today’s fast-paced world of high standards and expectations means that customer service alone isn’t enough; rather, your company’s focus should be on the entire customer experience.
So, what’s the difference between customer service and customer experience? Let’s take a look at the details.
What is customer service, exactly?
Customer service comes into play any time you or one of your staff members assists a customer with a question or problem related to a project or service your company is performing for them. This could be in person, at a jobsite or in your office, or via phone call, text, or email.
Customer service plays a vital role in the success of your business. Being branded with the label “gives bad customer service” is a modern-day scarlet letter than can cost you countless job opportunities. Potential customers want to know that they’ll be treated with respect at every step when they hire your company.
OK, so what is customer experience?
Customer experience includes customer service, but it also encompasses every way a customer (or potential customer) interacts with your company.
Customer experience covers all of the following:
- Customer service, including individual staff members and how they interact with customers before, during, and after a job; company policies and how they’re communicated and explained; and any self-service support systems you’ve implemented (information request forms or online payments, for example)
- Marketing and design, including print and digital marketing materials, your company’s website, and the design and accessibility of your company’s brick-and-mortar location
- Your product line or the services your company offers, including the quality of an item or service, the speed with which a job is completed, and how any necessary customer training or instruction is handled
Customer experience begins before you even know a potential customer is considering your company, and it continues after a job is finished. While impeccable customer service is important, especially during a project, a great customer experience is what sets you apart from the competition.
How to improve customer experience: 3 simple tips
A fantastic customer experience doesn’t just happen—it’s something that takes ongoing attention and the willingness (and ability) to change and adapt as your customers’ needs and wants shift. These three tips will help you stay on the right track to providing an exceptional customer experience.
1. Place your customer at the center of every business decision.
During Amazon’s first few years in business, company CEO Jeff Bezos was known to leave one chair empty in meeting rooms. His intention was for everyone attending the meeting to view that empty chair as occupied by the customer, who played an important part in the discussion and any decisions made.
While you might not need to leave empty chairs all over your office, advocating for the customer and his or her needs at every step is important. Try your best to view your business with objectivity.
- Your billing and payment system may make sense to you, but is it easy for your customers to use and understand?
- Is your warranty policy clear to people who aren’t as familiar with it as you? Are the policy details accessible on your website?
- Are your business hours considerate of customers who work long hours or commute during the week?
2. Avoid making assumptions about what your customers need or want.
You may think you know exactly what your customers are looking for in a memorable customer experience, but the only way to be certain is to ask. Setting up a survey or comment box is certainly an option, but you’ll see a better response rate (and more honest feedback) if you work with a third-party customer surveying organization.
3. Let your customers know that you value their feedback.
Being transparent with customers and letting them know that you want to hear their thoughts improves their experience with your company. When you proactively request feedback, you show your customers that you care and that you genuinely want to better understand what they’re looking for in a product or service.
Once you know what your customers want and need from your company, you’ll be in a far better position to make informed decisions about your business.
Making the shift to customer experience
Shifting your focus to customer experience doesn’t mean that customer service no longer matters; rather, it means that customer service becomes part of the overall experience you create for your customers.
Surveying your customers is a vital part of improving your company’s customer experience—if you don’t know exactly how your customers feel about your business and the services you provide, you’ll have a hard time creating an experience that your customers enjoy.
Need help improving your customer experience? Want valuable feedback from your customers? Let us know—we can help.