Customer Experience Featured Article

The Big Difference Between Customer Service & Customer Experience

January 13, 2015

It wasn't so long ago, really, when customer service and customer experience were considered to be one and the same. In fact, back in 1985, the two meshed together to a surprising extent; customers faced with a problem asked store clerks to help, and knowledgeable store clerks responded according to the dictates of the situation. The customer then paid for the good or service in question and left happy. But today, we have realized there are differences between customer service and customer experience, and Yoel Feldman recently offered up an explanation of the biggest difference between the two in an article on the Proonto blog.

Feldman's analysis turned to Dell (News - Alert)'s chief information officer, Jerry Gregoire, who noted that customer experience “is the next competitive battleground.” Given that customer service has been a competitive battleground for some time, that shows the biggest difference between the two concepts right there. Naturally, one never steps onto a battleground without checking to make sure the necessary logistics and infrastructure are in place to provide the best chance of success possible on said battleground, so Feldman further analyzed just what goes into a customer experience to begin with.

Essentially, Feldman breaks down customer experience into six separate factors, each having its own influence on the customer experience as a whole: the things that the customer does, feels, likes, sees, thinks and wants all go into that experience. Thus customer service becomes part of the customer experience as opposed to the whole thing: part of what the customer does and likes. Since originally, most of a customer's interaction with a company was at the customer service level, customer service became the measure for customer experience. Now with several different points of contact, ranging from online connections to social media and beyond, a company's customer service is no longer its only measure of customer experience.

So with this thought in mind, what can a company do to ensure the best in customer experience? Clearly, providing the best in customer service is still important. While customer service is no longer most if not all of the customer experience, it is still a part of the matter, and a fairly large part at that. Beyond that, however, focus on those other parts of the customer experience as well. Pay close attention to the customer; usually, said customer will say what's most desired, and from there, it's a comparatively simple matter to offer it. Consider the use of customer analytics tools and the like to predict customer needs; knowing what a customer needs before the customer can even articulate the need is a valuable point to have. Be prepared as well; addressing a customer's need as close as possible to the customer's acknowledgment of the need is a great step forward. Don't forget about the personal touches; a customer may be just one of many, but if the customer feels important, that customer is likely to return. Consider a follow-up program; some find this annoying, but others are grateful for the contact, and if nothing else, make sure it's available for the customer to initiate should a problem arise.

In the end, the best thing to remember is that, now, customer service is merely a part of customer experience, not the whole thing as it once was. Keeping this clear point in mind will allow a business to better augment the customer experience by remembering there's so much more to it than ever before.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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