Simply put, customer service is a snapshot in time and is limited to a specific interaction, like buying a product in a retail store.
By contrast, customer experience encompasses the entire ecosystem of how customers engage with your business. It involves all your departments, even the ones that don’t directly interact with your customers.
Customer service is the series of transactional elements that you can expect when buying a product or service, at a specific moment. Things like eye contact, a warm greeting, or asking if you would like your receipt for your wallet or in the bag are common customer service elements. However, customer service is only one of many types of interactions throughout the buying lifecycle where customers engage your business.
For example, they may interact with your brand online through your website or social media channels, or speak with a salesperson through chat or on the phone – all this before they enter your retail store and experience your customer service.
Similarly, they may engage your business for product support after they purchase, or deal with your accounting department for payment questions.
Importantly, while customer service is a key component for delighting customers at the point of sale, your customer is judging your success through every one of these other interactions as well. And, a poor experience anywhere throughout this process means losing your customer and their future business with your company.
This is why businesses need to focus on customer experience, not just customer service.
All parts of the customer lifecycle need to be thoughtful, deliberate, interconnected, and consistent. A win in only one area does not guarantee success. Customer experience is a complex combination of a relay race and a marathon, not just a sprint.
To be effective, customer experience requires collaboration, creativity, and keen execution. When done properly, it creates tremendous value for customers, saves organizations time and money, and significantly improves the bottom line by increasing customer spending and loyalty.
The next time you purchase a product or a service, ask yourself at every step “is this customer service or another part of the customer experience?”
You will be surprised at how much of the process is beyond the scope of mere customer service.
Written by: James Grieve, Management Consultant and Partner, Nucleus Strategies
About James Grieve
James Grieve is a proud mentor and supporter of Futurpreneur Canada. He is a certified management consultant and partner in Nucleus Strategies, a Kelowna-based consulting firm that specializes in working with businesses in a variety of industries to design great service experiences that delight customers and improve business performance. He can be reached at 778.214.6010, or firstname.lastname@example.org.