Customer service vs customer experience (CX): Explained
Customer service and customer experience (CX) are two concepts that are often mixed up. For your business to succeed, it is important to know the relationship and differences between them. This article will take a close look at how these two concepts differ, together with the ultimate guide on how to achieve great customer service and customer experience.
What is customer service?
Customer service supports customers by providing help and advice to them whenever they have a query or a complaint concerning your product or service.
Human interactions form an important part of customer service. However, with the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI), there is a growing trend of incorporating automation into customer service.
What are the principles of good customer service?
Holistic knowledge of the product or service is the foundation for providing good customer service. It ensures that the customers’ needs and queries can be directly addressed without causing delay or confusion. Being professional and knowledgeable about the product or service also enhances first contact resolution (FCR), which has a positive impact on customer satisfaction.
Good customer service entails fast responses, to prevent customers’ frustration from long waiting times. A recent study by HotSpot Research mentioned that 90% of customers rate an "immediate" response as essential or very important when they have a customer service question and 60% of customers define "immediate" as 10 minutes or less. In addition, customers will be more likely to raise issues and complaints if they expect fast responses. This means you can gather more reliable and valuable feedback and information from your customers to constantly improve your offering.
Easily accessible to all customers
Customer service should be available to all customers, in different languages and via different methods of communication. This is a prerequisite for good customer service. While adding more channels of communication is simple, it is difficult to remove language barriers, especially for underserved languages. Some potential solutions would be hiring agents that speak local languages, providing a knowledge base in the customers’ own language, or using automated tools, like chatbots, that can reply in every language.
What is customer experience?
Customer experience (CX) is the overall impression from all the interactions a customer has with your business before, during and after purchasing.
There are many different aspects of customer experience including senses, emotions, engagement, involvement and so on. These can be prompted by the physical environment of your store, the design of your products or services, and the selling and payment processes.
What are the principles of a good customer experience?
There are many points of interaction with a customer or potential customer at any stage of the customer journey. It is essential to ensure you have addressed every touchpoint of interaction before, during or after the customers purchase something from you. Below are some examples of how to achieve a good CX at various touch points throughout the customer journey.
Before and during purchase - website design
When customers browse through your websites for information, they should not experience any difficulties in navigating through pages and finding what they need. Features such as accurate keyword search, and a clear navigation guide will make the customer experience smoother and more convenient. This is important because 40% of people will switch to a different search result if the first one is not mobile-friendly. In addition, according to Web FX, 94% of first impressions of a brand’s website relate to the site’s web design. Hence, appealing and eye-catching website design will play an important role in enhancing the CX as well.
After purchase - post-purchase follow-up
A good post-purchase follow-up should be holistic. Relevant and regular contact regarding promotional events and new products or services is useful in building long-term relationships with customers. However, you should be careful about the frequency of contact. Research conducted by MarketingSherpa suggested that the most popular email frequency preferences are at least monthly (86%), at least weekly (61%), and weekly (32%). Also, the material in follow-up emails should be as personalised as possible, such as targeted product recommendations based on past transaction records.
What are the differences between customer service and customer experience?
Customer experience includes customer service
From the above definitions, we understand that since customer experience involves the entire customer journey, customer service is one specific part of customer experience. Achieving great customer service forms part of the effort in creating a good customer experience.
Reactive vs proactive
Customer service is reactive in the sense that it is the customers who initiate the interaction by reaching out for assistance and support from you.
CX is proactive because it is all about anticipating the needs and actions of customers, and addressing them before they even come up. One example would be to evaluate your operations based on previous understanding of the customers. It requires thoughtful probing such as: what times and days throughout the week the business is busiest? What are the areas that customers are likely to be uncertain about when using the product/service?
Isolated vs ongoing
Customer service exists around isolated events that will affect the overall customer experience, such as a specific complaint raised by a customer. Customer service is easy to quantify. Some common key performance indicators (KPIs) to gauge customer service are waiting time, resolution time and customer satisfaction score (CSAT).
CX is about building an ongoing relationship with the customers. It is more difficult to quantify CX because it cannot be boiled down to one single interaction, event or metric. It starts even before there is any interaction between your business and the customer since the image and value of the brand impact the customer’s feelings.
So, how do you succeed at both customer service and customer experience?
To succeed at both customer service and customer experience, the first step you should take is to have a clear understanding of your customers. The next step is to be prepared and capable of tackling customers’ concerns in the fastest and most efficient way. Being in an era of rapid technological changes, it is easy to recognise that technology is the key to helping you accomplish these steps and succeed at customer service and CX.
Advanced analytics tools
A good analysis of customers’ concerns and complaints helps to identify the issues that your business should focus on resolving. These insights can be used to help your customer service team continuously learn and improve. Analytics empowered by algorithms are extremely useful when it comes to providing personalised, unforgettable customer experiences, targeting the pain points of customers.
Automation tools, used in conjunction with human agents, have the potential to enhance operational efficiency at much lower costs. Intelligent email campaigns automate the demanding task of creating personalised and targeted email content, improving post-purchase CX. Besides, multilingual chatbots like Algomo make it possible for your business to accommodate customers with various preferred languages. This is crucial for offering widely accessible customer service.
In this fast-changing market environment, you need to make sure that your business keeps up with trends and utilises technologies to succeed. Actively exploring innovative solutions and tools will put you in an advantageous position in enhancing your customer service and CX.