The term “customer experience” is ubiquitous in business these days. In fact, focusing on the customer experience has become the single most important way for an organization to achieve success. As a result of this, it is very important to take that leap from just providing ‘customer services’ and actually providing a lasting ‘customer experience’.
But what exactly is ‘customer service’ and ‘customer experience’?
Customer service is the support you offer your customers — both before and after they buy your product — that helps them have an easy and enjoyable experience with you. It’s more than just providing answers; it’s an important part of the promise your brand makes to its customers. And it’s a critical to the success of your business.
Customer experience is the sum of all interactions a customer has with a company. This can include everything from a customer’s initial awareness or discovery of a company, product, or service and progressing through the purchase and use of those products or services. Together these all add up to the critical moments—the touch points—that create an organization’s overall customer experience.
The key learning here is that customer experience moves us beyond the traditional definition of customer service—those individual moments when employees are providing direct service to customers. It is also about the bigger picture of what happens before and after these service interactions.
To truly gain an understanding of customer experience, you must know that it encompasses every aspect of a company’s offerings—from the quality of its customer care to its reputation management, marketing, packaging, product and service features, ease of use, reliability, and beyond.
This distinction is more important than ever now, especially for organizations that want to continue to differentiate themselves from their competition. Customer experience must be understood and approached holistically, with those responsible for each area of a company’s offerings giving intentional thought and focus to how their decisions will shape and impact the overall customer experience.
ADVANTAGES OF “CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE” TO “CUSTOMER SERVICES”
These are some of the reasons that makes it imperative for you to move from customer service operations to customer experience.
- Improves customer satisfaction:In order to improve customer satisfaction, focus should be on the whole customer experience. When you shift your mindset from focusing on individual interactions to the experience you deliver across the entire customer journey. The goal is to create a consistent customer experience across all touch points that meets or exceeds the standard you have set in terms of what you want to deliver. At every touch point, you will ensure that the promise of a positive experience is being upheld and that the customer can experience a certain level of superior service: whether it is from sales, customer service, accounts or support.
- Fosters repeat customers and customer loyalty:Avaya and BT Research conducted a study in 2013 that revealed 44%of consumers consider customer loyalty to be a thing of the past. Customers may think it is a thing, but that is only because they believe there are plenty of available alternatives, given the competitive environment, and they perceive the switching costs to be too small to affect them. Focusing on the customer experience can help alleviate these issues. When executed properly, customer experience will be a point of differentiation from competitors. Creating an experience that truly impresses customers and exceeds expectations ensures that they will want to continue doing business with you.
- Increases customer advocacy and referrals:Did you know that a referral customer costs a less to acquire and has a higher potential for retention and loyalty than a non-referral? We all love referrals. They are often quicker with closing sales and less complicated or demanding customers. By focusing on creating amazing customer experiences and embodying the desire for your team to go ”above and beyond,” you have the opportunity to create an enthusiastic advocate out of every customer. Imagine if every customer with whom you dealt became a raving advocate. How many more business referrals and new clients would you be able to attribute to this?
- Reduces customer churn:An Accenture global customer satisfaction report (2008) found that price is not the main reason for customer churn; it is actually due to the overall poor quality of customer service. Focusing on the customer experience will help eliminate the areas in your business where poor service has been identified. When you develop your customer experience strategy, you will identify areas that do not meet the standards of other areas of your business.
- Creates a competitive advantage:A competitive advantage is huge for all businesses operating in today’s environment. We all have a myriad of competitors that offer the same or similar products and services. Our world is moving toward an environment where every service-based industry will be a commodity. The customer experience offers the perfect platform. Now, instead of a customer comparing and basing purchases on price alone, they will factor in service and the experience in which they take part.
- Increases revenue and sales:Did you know customers will spend more money with companies that strive to make it easier to do business with them? That is the case according to a 2012 study by Echo Research, which found that 70% of customers are willing to spend more money with a company that provides good customer service, up from 58% in 2010. Additionally, in a 2013 study, Avaya and BT Research found that 82% of consumers were spending more with these companies, clearly indicating an upward trend in importance over the years. When it comes to measuring return on investment and seeing monetary results from investing in the customer experience, these statistics provide evidence of the value.
- Builds stronger customer relationships:As humans and working professionals, our attention spans are steadily shrinking. Research by global computer and telecommunications research company, The Radicati Group, reveals that workplaces will receive an average of 140 emails each day by 2018. Simple. By focusing on the customer experience you can deliver personalized communications tailored to each individual customer. Leverage new technology to send electronic communications content and offers that your customers look forward to opening. This will help ensure that your messages stand out in the crowded atmosphere and reach your target audience. By offering a personalized experience tailored to the individual, you have a better chance of building rapport and increasing trust with customers.
HOW TO MOVE FROM CUSTOMER SERVICE PROVISION TO CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE PROVISION
- Create an organizational common purpose:A common purpose is a succinct explanation of what you want the customer experience to be at an emotional level, and it is the essential foundation on which all other service decisions can be developed. It represents to all employees what you stand for and why you exist, and is your primary tool for getting everyone on the same page.
- Get to know your customers holistically: Your knowledge of the customer must extend far beyond the boundaries of traditional service criteria. Truly understanding their needs, wants, and emotions and the industry stereotypes is the key to creating personalized interactions. Listening posts provide a customer-centric tool that companies can use to assess the customer experience and immediately identify areas where customer expectations are (or are not) being met and exceeded.
- View exceptional service as an economic asset instead of an expense: Lifetime customer relationships are at stake, so the return on investment for providing consistently exceptional service clearly justifies the short-term cost.
Customer experience is about much more than just customer service. It is about fostering employee engagement. It is about truly understanding your customer, architecting a plan for delivering exceptional customer service, and then empowering employees to deliver it. It is about training leaders to reinforce the right behaviors that support exceptional customer experience. And finally, it is about discovering and acting on your organization’s areas of opportunity