Customer Experience (CX) and Customer Service (CS) are they the same? When you read about the latest developments in sales, marketing and dealing with customers, the terms “Customer Service” (CS) and “Customer Experience” (CX) fly in all directions like balls in a tennis club when the beginners are having their lessons.
What exactly do these terms mean? What’s the difference between them? Why is it so important? Do most people view service as being based on experience, or do they view experience as being based on service?
When the words “Customer Service” are mentioned, the general perception is that this is about processes. The KPIs used to measure “Customer Service” are often process oriented focussing on quality, speed and efficiency. These processes are often people and technology driven.
The perception of “Customer Experience” includes all aspects of the customer journey including the customer’s feelings and reactions. KPIs to measure this are more likely to include Customer effort and NPS.
To sum it up in a simple format, customer service is normally a reactive state, whereas customer experience is rather proactive.
Since companies frequently sell very similar products and they want to avoid competing on price, they now are competing based on how they behave with their customers. The illusion of service and experience now is that companies deem themselves to be a people and customer centric company, but how can we find out if they are or not?
According to an article “50 stats you need to know about online reviews” by Khusbu Shrestha, “more than 88% of online shoppers incorporate reviews into their purchase decision”. Social media has its pros and cons, we can review other people’s past experience with a company, as a customer and an employee. This allows you as a consumer or potential employee to make your own judgement on whether to proceed with your transaction or contract. But the best way to know if a company lives up to their expectations still remains to try the service out for yourself.
From the same article, “86% of people will hesitate to purchase from a business that has negative online reviews.” Unfortunately, politicians are not the only ones who indulge in “fake news”. Companies can also sell a good story which is not necessarily true. I could be a terrible employee who provides a poor service, but if the company has been marketed well, I can look great. And then there is the opposite case where poor reviews are listed from upset clients or employees, whom in fact may have misunderstood the process or the terms and conditions. Of course, much of the reviews are legit and there are learnings to be had.
Social media can be a great tool and we must continue to value its potential, but just like fake news, this can also lead to misleading information around company and employee feedback. Use social as a guidance tool, but as a business focus more on a combination of voice of customer (VOC), voice of employee (VOE) & voice of process (VOP).
Be what you should be
Unlike customer service which is largely department driven, Customer experience needs to be the responsibility of everyone in the organization. Yet quite often customer metrics are not linked at a company level, residing mainly under the customer service department. This is where the crucial measurements come in:
- Voice of the Customer (VOC) is measured with such KPIs as Customer Satisfaction scores (CSAT), Net Promoter Score (NPS) and customer effort (CES)
- Voice of the Employee (VOE) is measured using measures such as employee satisfaction surveys (ESAT), internal NPS, feedback from their own usage of company products (do they use them?), as well as exit interviews
- Voice of the Process (VOP), which is the domain of those responsible for providing the customer service. VOP depends on having a full overview of the customer journey, clear and complete understanding of business processes through thorough and accurate documentation as well system architecture
Technology and systems infrastructure enables reports to be compiled on all 3 aspects of the customer experience, the VOP will tell us how a change in the process impacts CX and EX. If you can get this right, as a company you will have the data needed not only to embed more sustainable KPIS across the business, but of course make more informed decisions to improve both the customer experience and service alike.
Following Be All Ears’ principles of “Be you”, “Be them”, “Be us” let’s quickly look at how one can review both service and experience.
Be you – the individual
So, let’s start by evaluating how you perceive the journey or the service received and what are your own expectations?
Personally, I am looking for a seamless self-service experience. Or if interacting, a service with a smile which is genuine. Empty phrases uttered robotically such as “Enjoy your meal” or “Have a nice day” can contribute to my experience, but in a negative way.
Indeed, many companies are trying to minimize customer interaction with employees to reduce costs, and the consensus is that a good customer experience should be based on a simple, seamless delivery with minimal interaction.
Be them – the customer
According to the Forbes article “ten customer service and cx predictions for 2018”, “Personalization will help drive customer loyalty”. Customers will want companies to treat them like individuals, to know their preferences and make relevant suggestions. Therefore, it is imperative that we first seek to understand our customer base across all segments and behaviours.
Use your data correctly, deep analysis is required to understand how technology, people and processes can be used to deliver that individual approach. The most efficient and effective customer experience is when the customer doesn’t have to ask. Or from a service element, not having to tell, like having to provide in depth verification information on a repeat contact to a service centre.
An example where we are seeing changes in these areas are in the banking industry, many banks have upgraded their ATMs to proactively offer customers cash in the amounts and denomination that they habitually request. In addition to this we are starting to see new technologies being utilised to recognise and verify customers with voice, facial or gesture recognition speeding up that dreaded verification process.
Dimension Data, in their annual report on Customer Experience trends for 2018 have identified “Proactive customer experience” as a major trend that will change and increase customer expectations.
Be us – the employer
A customer may have had a delicious meal in a restaurant where the food was beautifully presented and well-cooked and the wine perfectly matched with the food by the sommelier, but an error in the bill will ruin the whole experience and the customer will vow never to return.
Those who design and deliver the customer experience need to be on the lookout for situations where the processes breakdown, or the technology doesn’t deliver the desired outcome. In addition to this customer experience professionals have a duty to relate all processes and technologies and put them in the eyes of the people (employees), who will utilise most of those processes or technologies. Include people into the process. For the experience or service to be delivered as seamless as possible, the employees must be confident in their delivery, across all departments.
Employees can also rescue a customer from a terrible experience and turn it into a positive one, and as such earning back the loyalty of the customer. An example of where service can rescue experience is from my encounter with an issue with a bank and card not working in the ATM. I was frustrated, needed cash and needed it now. With a quick call to the bank contact center the agent was very friendly and helpful, they related and shared their own experience of a past ATM issue and were genuinely sorry. They recognised the issue which was a spend limit on the card, rectified it and I was able to retrieve my cash within a few minutes after the call. This genuine approach instilled trust back into me and I am happy to recommend such a company, which in this case was Komercni Banka.
As technology becomes both more pervasive and more effective, it is highly likely that most customer service interactions will be completed without any human intervention at all. The experience will be driven by technology and artificial intelligence. It will be flawed customer processes and breakdowns in the system that drive customers to talk to a human in the contact center.
First Contact Resolution will no longer be the primary KPI of the contact center, because people will only use the contact center if the automated systems failed to resolve the customer’s request on the first contact.
In the future, human customer service will not be providers of customer service as such, they will be providers of solutions when processes and technology prove to be inadequate. Their responsibility will be to save the Customer Experience when things go wrong. Maybe it is time for us to rephrase the job title Customer Service Representative and begin branding it as Customer Experience Saviour.
I will leave you with my own quote:
“You must be able to take a step back at times and just listen, walk in the shoes of others then act. Time is precious but if you cannot commit to this one activity, you will never be as successful as you could be.”
Open questions & talking points?
- Are you already preparing your workforce for such a change?
- Is it time to rethink which skills will be needed in the coming years, and how will that new Customer Experience Saviour job description look like?
At Be All Ears, we specialize in supporting businesses to successfully overcome growth or operational challenges, driving change through employee & customer experience. We make success simple. Get in touch with us and see how we can best support you.