Customer Experience vs. Customer Service: What Are the Differences?
Though there are some parallels between them, customer experience (CX) and customer service are totally different concepts. Too often, businesses regard customer experience as another name for customer service, but it requires a different strategy.
Do you grasp the differences between these two concepts and the right way to use them to differentiate your products or services?
What Is Customer Experience (CX)?
Customer experience refers to all the interactions that customers have with your brand and all the impressions they derive about your brand, from the first time they hear about it through all their purchases and conversations. It’s the sum total of every touchpoint you have with your customers.
The first advertisement a person sees that features your brand is part of their customer experience. Talking to a salesperson and choosing to make a purchase is part of their customer service experience.
The same is true of interacting with customer service teams when someone needs to resolve a problem through customer support channel, live chat, receiving an email newsletter, even viewing the content you post on social media.
Being able to master the customer expectations with good customer experience is beneficial for many reasons, from making it more likely that people will buy your brand, and improving your customer relationships, to raising the likelihood your existing customers will upload positive reviews and strong referrals to measure customers satisfaction and play an integral role to improve customer retention.
How is Customer Experience Different From Customer Service?
How is that different from customer service? One way to look at it is to think of customer service as just one aspect of the overall customer experience.
Interactions within a customer service context are part of the customer experience, like all interactions with your brand. But if you only care about customer centric service, you might neglect some of the other facets of customer experience that contribute to the formation of customer impressions of your brand.
Customer Service Still Matters
That doesn’t mean that customer service no longer matters. It is in fact a critical element of your overall customer experience strategy.
Your audience will turn to customer service when they’re experiencing issues or feeling confused, so that’s a vital opportunity to prove you’re there for them and willing and able to make things right.
The point is, you can’t afford to conflate customer experience with customer service or ignore your “big picture” CX strategy.
Strategies for Improving Customer Experience
What steps can you take to improve the overall customer experience?
- Start with a comprehensive strategic plan. Every effective customer experience strategy begins with an overarching, high-level, and comprehensive strategic plan. What are you hoping to achieve with your customer experience strategy? How do you want your customers to feel at each stage of the journey? How do you hope to shape perceptions of your brand (give a positive spin to bad experiences), and what are the tactics you can use to do that? It’s essential to document this, so you’ll have a strong foundation for making decisions across all departments and through various strategies such as sales, marketing, and customer service.
- Look at the entire customer journey. If you want to have a CX strategy that permeates every customer interaction with your brand, you have to investigate the entire customer journey. That means you should map the journey and truly understand it. How and when do people usually first hear about your brand? What is the discovery process like and how do individuals make the decision to purchase from your brand? What experiences do your existing and recurring customers have, and how and when do people opt out?
- Coordinate across multiple departments. Customer experience is only valuable if you’re able to coordinate across multiple departments. This isn’t just a customer service strategy; it’s also a sales strategy, a marketing strategy, and, in some ways, even an accounting strategy. All team members across all your departments need to be unified with regard to their vision and execution of the customer experience.
- Remain consistent across all channels. Similarly, you have to remain consistent across all communication channels. People like to feel they’re interacting with a coherent, cohesive brand, regardless of whether they’re speaking with an individual sales rep, interacting with your social media accounts, solving support requests with your AI Virtual Assistant, or reading an email you sent. Maintaining strict brand guidelines can help you significantly here.
- Study the competition. Watch your top competitors closely to generate new ideas. What tools and strategies are they using to connect more effectively with their customers? Could there be ways for you to one-up them?
- Conduct surveys and analyze the results. Conduct regular surveys with your customers to understand how they’re feeling and what their perceptions of your brand are. Analyze the results to figure out whether your efforts to improve the customer experience are working, and to generate ideas for how you can boost it even further. As a bonus, you’ll learn more about your target demographics, so you can focus your marketing and advertising strategies even more on your most valuable audiences.
- Monitor brand interactions. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on brand interactions, even when people aren’t directly responding to your company surveys. For example, how often do people mention your brand on social media? Are they mentioning it in a positive or negative light? What are some of the most repeated comments you see in these interactions, and what do they tell you about the average customer’s experience?
- Keep evolving. The most successful companies on the planet are ones that keep adapting, even after they enjoy their initial success. Your customers are always changing and your competitors are always on your heels, so it pays to keep evolving your customer experience strategy. Spend time brainstorming new ideas, experimenting with new technologies, and rolling out new beneficial experiences for your customers. The more data you gather, and the more CX expertise you gain, the better your results are apt to be.
Are you interested in improving your overall customer experience? The right AI customer service tools can help. Schedule a demo of our AI customer service software today to learn more!