SC&RA on why the customer experience is key
By Joel Dandrea28 January 2022
Customer service is just one part of the journey, says the SC&RA.
Customer experience is key
Moving into 2022, especially amid current global supply challenges, it would behoove us all to remember a universal business truth: there is a difference between customer service and customer experience.
The terms, though related, are often used interchangeably – but they’re not the same thing. The difference is: while customer service is one piece of the puzzle, focused on human interaction and directly supporting customers, customer experience (CX) is the sum of the entire customer journey with your business.
Viewed through this lens, customer service is just one aspect of the entire customer experience – and it’s usually the place where companies fix things when part of the experience has been less than satisfactory. All the more reason to make sure this one front-line component of the overall CX is as efficient and well-executed as possible. Because, ultimately, customer service is rarely memorable, unless it’s bad. And you don’t want to be remembered for that.
How important is brand loyalty?
You do, however, want to be remembered for something bigger and longer-lasting. Let’s call it brand loyalty, which often isn’t a result of satisfactory transactions, but of the longer experience journey that involves multiple touch points over time – even years – progressing eventually into the life cycle of a client relationship. Thinking that service equals experience, and that good service will solve all your problems, is basically the proverbial duct tape over the check-engine light. You’re addressing the symptoms and ignoring the underlying reality, which puts you at risk.
At the end of the day, CX includes every interaction between the customer and the business. It involves all the ways your business interacts with a customer, including and outside of, traditional direct, customer-facing service. CX captures how the customer uses your product or service, their interactions with self-service support options, the feeling of walking into your shop or onto your jobsite, customer-service interactions with the team and more.
Needless to say there are a lot of touch points and a lot of ways it can go wrong. It pays off to do the preparatory work to help you get it right as often as possible.
The customer journey
For a start rethink your customer journey. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and make sure you’re everywhere they are – or at least everywhere they expect to find you. Ultimately, you’re trying to create a relationship rather than just have a series of interactions. Look ahead at the potential life cycle of the relationship, which includes selling, onboarding, maintenance and renewal. What happens after the sales rep’s handshake?
To that end, what do your customers want in a relationship? What problems do you solve, and how long could you potentially be a solution for them? To design a great customer experience, start by figuring out who or where your entry point is to the customer. Most customer service starts when a customer calls with a problem.
By contrast, customer experience starts with hope – with the reason the customer chooses you in the first place. Thus, if they’ve chosen you, or seem very interested, don’t just leave it to chance. Do your due diligence – develop a plan for them across all their current needs, and then what they will likely need as this relationship evolves.
Finally, follow the numbers and the money. Where is the value coming from? Which customers represent the most value to you over time – versus the biggest disruption? Then dig deeper. Why do they spend, and what do they spend it on? How, and how long, are they spending? This matters because resources spent servicing unprofitable customers can be a distraction from work that’s creating successful customer experiences for those that matter most to your business.