Customer Service (CS) vs Customer Experience (CX): Is there a real difference?

Your clients are the reason you exist as a functioning, profitable business. It is perfectly understandable that you’d be looking for ways to make them feel highly appreciated and have them like your brand even more. That being said, customer expectations are rising, and faster than the speed by which companies can improve their customer experience. Customers expect every interaction, end-to-end, to be the best experience they have with any company – not just yours.

Do you think you’re able to provide the level of high-end customer service that your awesome client-base really deserves? How do you even measure the quality of your customer service? How do you make sure that your client’s experience is top-notch? 

 

Key differences

For many, customer service and customer experience are seemingly interchangeable. Yet, one is a single touchpoint with a brand, while the other impacts feelings, emotions, and encompasses the entire customer journey. 

First and foremost, customer experience is the sum of all contact, from first discovering and researching a product to shopping and purchasing to actually using the product and following up with the brand afterwards. This is to say that the key difference between customer service and customer experience is that customer experience involves the whole customer journey, including customer service.

Therefore, as illustrated in the graph above, CX encapsulates how the customer uses your product or service, their interactions with self-service support options, the feeling of walking into your retail store, customer service interactions with the team, and much more.

In fact, the goal of a great customer experience in many cases is to avoid customers having to contact customer service in the first place.

If a customer has an issue with a product or service, that is typically the only time they would come in contact with customer service.

 

Measuring CX

Customer experience can look like a subjective concept that’s difficult to measure. However, by having a measurable indicator of CX, you can track how it improves (or worsens) over time and use it to evaluate the success or failure of changes you make that might be affecting your customers‘ overall perception of your brand.

Taking into account that a 2013 Zendesk study said that 89% of unhappy customers tell others about it, while 87% of happy customers also tell others about their experience, marketers quickly came to the conclusion that measuring how likely a customer is to recommend a product/service/brand is probably the best way to keep an eye on the customer experience metric. They were right.

 

CX is measured by net promoter score (NPS), which tracks how likely a customer is to recommend the brand to a friend. Customer service is measured through the customer satisfaction score (CSAT), which measures how satisfied customers are with the experience

NPS, which was created by Rob Markey and Fred Reichheld at Bain & Co., is an extremely suitable benchmark for this specific metric because a lot of companies use it as the standard customer experience measurement. Furthermore, the fact that it’s simple to implement and measure makes the NPS a favorite with company boards and executive committees as well.

A healthy NPS is indicative of customer trust, satisfaction, loyalty and growth through brand recommendation, which are critical metrics for business survival and growth. 

 

Optimizing your clients’ experience with your brand

 

No matter how hard a brand tries, not every customer will be completely satisfied with all aspects of their brand all the time, so there is always room for improvements, no matter how small they may be. See the thing is, even though you win new clients, it’s vital to keep them close to your business. For example, instead of planning how to react to your customers’ requests and interactions, try a more proactive approach. Communicate with them all the perks you offer and show them you care about their experience, and they’ll be sure to stick around.

In the same regard, there is no single universal checklist to follow which guarantees “good” customer experience: your business is unique and so are your customers. Improving customer experience (CX) means – improving people, processes, product and delivery to customers, such that it helps improve satisfaction, loyalty and helps achieve the overall business goals.

Make sure that you’re present wherever, and whenever your clients need you. The way to accomplish this is through an extensive omni-channel marketing strategy and having the success team aligned on the same vision in order to ensure a proper implementation of your plan. In a very fast-paced market, your customer support should keep the pace.

In essence, delivering an ‘omni-channel’ experience means the customer can connect with the brand interaction or transaction from any device or channel – be it in-store, on the website, on instagram, using the mobile app or even smart speaker – and seamlessly pick up exactly where they left off last time, without having to either repeat themselves or restart the entire buying journey.

Lastly, you should keep in mind that in addition to brightening your client’s day while they interact with your brand, investing in CX yields huge corporate gains: The Temkin Group published a study and found that companies that earn $1 billion annually can expect to gain, on average, an additional $700 million within 3 years of investing in customer experience. 

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