What keeps a customer coming back to your business? Is it the impeccable customer service or a well-crafted customer experience?
Or perhaps, it is a combination of the various customer touchpoints which come together to create a beautiful customer journey?
Confused? let us simplify this!
Bob runs a restaurant. 40% of his customers are the old ones; those who come back! John knows that his chef is doing a good job with providing the best of delicacies.
However, is that all that’s bringing his customers back?
Bob needs to find a way to increase his customer retention. The simple solution to make sure his customers keep coming back is to make sure his customers leave happier.
His food may be the major reason why the older ones keep coming, but is that all? The answer to this question is No.
Customers’ loyalty depends on how they are treated by the brand as well.
Bob puts an utmost importance on training his staff properly because he knows it is his restaurant’s impeccable customer service, which helps him in delivering a good customer experience.
We have used two important marketing jargons here – “customer service” and “customer experience”.
They may sound similar but are vastly different.
To establish things straight from the beginning, customer service is one of the many things that influence Customer Experience.
Let us understand how.
A general difference between customer experience and customer service
Customer service comprises all the extra facilities which a brand could provide to their customers to enhance their satisfaction.
A product of the brand is the primary service, everything except the product such as the friendliness of the staff, helpline efficiency, technical support etc comes under the umbrella of customer care.
Customer experience isn’t to be confused with customer service.
Customer experience is the response a customer has to the over-all interaction they have had with your brand.
As we dwell deeper into the meaning of Customer Experience, we find out that the journey of a customer with the brand and each process involved is a part of the customer experience.
From the very first interaction with the brand’s advertisement to purchasing the product, and then, the customer service facilities – there are various touchpoints involved in this journey, which together shape the customer experience.
The primary factor to determine a customer’s experience with your brand is the service you offered.
However, customer service and other perks and facilities may have a huge role to play in their over-all experience.
To deliver a consistently high customer experience, it is important for brands to invest on their customer service.
Influence of Industry
Mentioned above are generalized definitions of customer service and customer experience, however, both vary greatly from an industry to another.
For example, in the case of Bob’s restaurant, customer service will be decided by the following points:
- Friendliness of the waiters
- Quicker service
- Ability to make a reservation online
- Adapting a customer’s review of the restaurant
The customer experience at Bob’s restaurant will obviously depend on the quality of the food. However, some additional factors that will influence a customer’s satisfaction at the restaurant will be:
- Cleanliness at the restaurant, the ambience of the place
- Waiting time at the restaurant
- Variety in the Menu
- Cost of the meals
- Above-mentioned customer service influencers.
However, for an IT-related business, the factors influencing customer service would be very different.
Since, most IT related business operate remote, the major factor deciding the customer service would be how smooth does a call with the customer care helpline go.
The customer experience here would include the reason why the call has been made, and the grievance redressal procedure undertaken to remedy the situation.
Furthermore, the customer service and the customer experience – both would vary largely from an IT company to a retail store brand.
A retail store’s customer service comprises how the store representatives help the customers.
Moving over to the customer experience at a retail store, it is less likely to be about a call, like in the case of an IT company.
At a retail store, the customer experience would have more to do with: how accessible and organized the store is, how quick is the billing there, if there is an option of ATM/cashless payments, if they introduce discounts and perks frequently, among other factors.
As we can see, the criteria for deciding customer service and customer experience in each industry are different.
Customer service may not be the only deciding factor but an important one in gauging the customer experience at that brand.
Customer Service Influences Customer Experience
Customer service plays an effective role in managing a brand’s reputation.
Sorting out grievances, handling enquiries, and thus, shaping the image a brand has in the industry and the market.
These are the core purposes of an effective customer service.
It is quite natural that the way a brand helps and tackles its masses shapes its business.
A supportive staff is more likely to keep the customers happy and satisfied, opposed to a non-personal or less interactive staff.
Customer service is, thus, a separate department or sometimes the role is outsources to another agency, which specialize in customer service roles. Customer service is , thus, a business on its own.
In the current scenario, brands are competing against each other on the parameters of customer service too.
It can’t be denied that a well-behaved customer care crew would aid the sales. A good marketer wouldn’t ignore the powerful tool of customer service while molding out a favorable customer experience.
However, as we have established, a good customer service is only a part of a larger picture, which is CX or Customer Experience.
As Marketers have realized today, CX needs to be looked into more attentively.
In fact, a better customer experience for your brand is the only long-term vision that sustains a business.
Brands aren’t selling their products these days, but the whole experience that comes with it!
Perhaps why, in the mobile phone campaigns, the focus has shifted from selling a brand to selling an experience. They advertise a camera that clicks your memories with the sharpest details.
They are selling you, the consumer, the Customer Experience. You would find it in all products around you.
Good marketers don’t sell the product directly, but they sell a story or an emotion.
The idea they are trying to project is how they would like the customers to think about the brand, and in long run, that is the aspired Customer Experience of that brand.
The competition among the market top-players is now running on the Customer Experience they can create for the consumers; Customer Service has a huge role to play in that well-crafted experience.
However, does that hold vice-versa too? Can Customer Experience impact Customer Service too?
Customer Experience has a direct impact on Customer Service Roles
So, we have established that customer service is an aspect of customer experience; but the customer experience of a brand has a role to play in the customer service’s prospects.
For very long, customer service has been treated as a separate entity.
Whenever brands are looking at cut-downs in the team, the customer service department is where the filtering begins. It is often viewed as an easy job, capable of running itself with lesser team members.
Thus, in an attempt to achieve a leaner organizational structure and to reduce the labour costs, organizations start with slandering the customer service department.
However, ace marketers recommend the opposite.
If a brand is sure of creating an amicable Customer Experience, they should invest in quality Customer service.
The focus here should be on “quality”. A larger customer service team does not ensure quality, but training the sales representatives/ call centre operators and educating them to stay updated with the necessities of the company’s vision does!
In fact, customer service may be one of the primary factors influencing a positive customer experience, since the journey of touchpoints and interactions that a customer has with the brand does not end at the purchase.
It is the use of the product or service that decided how satisfactory it is, and in case of complaints, a well-practiced customer service department could save the reputation of the company.
Designing your customer service experience
Moreover, customer service can help identify pain points, common grievances among other interesting insights, which if taken into consideration can help craft a better customer experience.
Thus, we can conclude that the customer service of a brand and its customer experience depend on each other for functionality; and a good marketing tactic would be to drive the brand with a customer experience in mind, while also investing in the customer service.