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Customer Experience vs. Customer Service


The Age of Experience


Customer Experience vs. Customer Service

In today's hyper-connected world, offering "good customer service" feels as quaint as dial-up internet. Sure, a friendly robot offering canned apologies might momentarily quell an angry tweet, but in the long run, focusing solely on reactive customer service leaves a business vulnerable to the seismic shifts in customer expectations.


Today's customers crave for experiences, not just service. They want journeys that are seamless, personalized, and emotionally resonant. Think of a Michelin-starred meal – the impeccable service enhances the entire experience, creating memories that go beyond the food.



Customer experience and customer service are not the same, but they do have a shared goal

Customer experience and customer service have a shared objective of ensuring customer satisfaction and repeat business. Customer service involves interactions with the customer addressing their specific needs, while customer experience encompasses the entire customer journey from initial awareness to post-purchase interactions to keeping them close. Despite their differences, both play interconnected roles in fostering customer loyalty.



Customer experience and customer service - How do they differ?

Customer service is characterized by its reactivity, addressing specific needs during touchpoints, with a limited timeline and a focus on immediate problem-solving. In contrast, customer experience spans the entire journey, considering emotions and perceptions, involving proactive efforts, and aiming for long-term loyalty through consistent positive interactions. Even goals are divergent - immediate satisfaction for customer service and long-term loyalty for customer experience. While customer experience necessitates collaboration across the organisation, customer service is primarily managed by support teams.



Customer experience starts with the moment they hear about your brand and continues right up to and beyond the purchase

The customer experience is a holistic picture of every impression a customer forms, starting with the moment they hear about your brand and continuing through every interaction, right up to and beyond the purchase. It's the entire path a customer walks, guided by every contact they have with your brand, from awareness to advocacy. Think of customer experience  as a map of all the moments that weave together to create a customer's relationship with your brand, from initial spark to lasting flame.


Let's imagine Tapsee, an avid runner, looking for new sneakers. Here's how "customer experience" plays out in her journey:


  • Initial Awareness: Tapsee sees an ad for a new line of running shoes from Hike on Instagram. The ad highlights the shoes' lightweight design and improved shock absorption, piquing her interest. (Touchpoint: Social media ad)

  • Consideration: Tapsee visits Hike's website to learn more. She finds detailed product descriptions, customer reviews, and even 360-degree product views. She also chats with a virtual assistant who answers her questions about sizing and return policies. (Touchpoints: Website, virtual assistant)

  • Purchase: Convinced, Tapsee orders the shoes online. However, during checkout, the website crashes. Frustrated, she contacts customer service via phone. A friendly agent apologizes for the inconvenience, helps her complete the order, and offers a discount for the trouble. (Touchpoints: Website, customer service agent)

  • Delivery: Tapsee receives the shoes promptly and with a personalized handwritten note from the Hike team. The packaging is eco-friendly and reusable, further impressing her. (Touchpoint: Packaging)

  • Post-Purchase: Tapsee loves the shoes. She finds them comfortable and supportive, just as advertised. She writes a positive review online and shares a photo of herself wearing them on a run. Hike responds to her review with a thank-you message and an offer for early access to their next sale. (Touchpoints: the product , online review, social media engagement)


Here's how this illustrates the imperative focussing of on customer experience:

  • Every touchpoint matters: From social media ads to the product, each interaction shaped Tapsee's perception of Hike.

  • Emotional connection is key: Hike goes beyond simply selling shoes. They listened to Tapsee, solved her problems, and added personal touches that make her feel valued.

  • Positive experiences drive loyalty: Tapsee became a loyal customer, advocating for Hike and potentially influencing others.


This is just one example, but it highlights how customer experience isn't just about transactions. It's about building relationships and creating lasting positive memories.



Behind the smile - Unveiling the multifaceted world of customer experience

More than just fixing problems, customer experience is building relationships across touchpoints.


Customer service, certainly, plays a pivotal role in shaping the overall customer experience, but it's not the sole determinant of the entire customer experience. Instead, it's one significant component within the broader spectrum of customer experience.


Customer experience encompasses various elements beyond just customer service. While customer service interactions contribute significantly to how customers perceive a brand, the overall customer experience is shaped by a multitude of touchpoints, interactions, and engagements across the entire customer journey.


Factors other than customer service contributing to customer experience include:

  • Product or service quality: The quality, functionality, and reliability of the product or service significantly impact the overall experience.

  • Brand image and messaging: How a brand communicates its values, mission, and unique selling propositions influences customer perceptions and experiences.

  • Ease of use and accessibility: Factors like website usability, accessibility, and convenience in finding information or making purchases play a crucial role.

  • Consistency across touchpoints: Customers expect consistency in experience across various channels, whether it's in-store, online, via social media, or customer service interactions.

  • Emotional connection: How customers feel while engaging with a brand can greatly influence their overall experience and their likelihood to return or recommend the brand to others.



In Conclusion

While customer service interactions contribute significantly to customer experience, the overall experience is shaped by a combination of numerous elements, such as emotional connection, consistency across touchpoints, brand image and messaging, ease of use and accessibility, and last but not the least - the quality of the product or the service. Effective customer service definitely enhances the overall experience by addressing immediate needs and leaving a positive impression, but the broader customer experience is the cumulative result of all interactions and touchpoints with a brand throughout the customer journey. What lasts are the experiences centrered on 'How we are made to feel'.

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