Customer Experience Vs Customer Service
The difference between customer service and customer experience is that customer service is one factor in the customer journey while customer experience is the sum of all a customer’s interactions with the brand.
In other words, customer service is one piece of the customer experience puzzle.
While organisations think they are delivering an amazing customer experience, they may actually only be delivering an adequate level of customer service. While the trend these days is for customer-service personnel to ask “Is there anything else I can do for you today?” this, in reality, creates a negative customer experience. It is a non-sensical question. If there was something else that could be done, the caller would ask for it. If there isn’t, and usually there isn’t, what is the point of the question?
In order to achieve great customer experience, great customer service must be provided. Conversely, great customer service might be provided while the overall customer experience is very poor. Customer experience is your customers’ holistic perception of their overall experience with your business or brand.
Only by driving the optimisation of customer experience throughout all areas of an organisation, can it truly claim to be customer-centric.
Why Being Customer-Centric Matters
History is littered with now struggling or defunct organisations who grew complacent that their customers would always return, believing their competitive advantage was strong enough to protect them from any new players. These organisations felt secure in their position, misguided in the belief that the barriers to entry were high enough and customer loyalty was strong enough to ward off any competitor who claimed to offer a superior customer experience.
With the advent of the internet and the digital era, we now know the belief to be a fallacy. The perceived competitive advantage is impenetrable, until it isn’t. When an organisation loses its focus on the customer, it leaves itself at the mercy to dynamic customer-centric players. Complacency seeps in and an inward focus becomes the dominant narrative. This is shown by this quote from the CEO of the Hilton Group Christopher Nassetta in 2015 when discussing the threat of Airbnb, “I strongly do not believe that they are a major threat to the core value proposition we have. I think it’s extremely hard for them to replicate what we’re doing”. If the Hilton Group had better understood their customer needs then, maybe they would have warded off the threat of Airbnb, instead of Airbnb now being worth more than the big five hotel chains combined.
We have seen industries such as media, retail and travel disrupted beyond recognition, with others such as financial services, utilities and health being in the midst of game-changing transformation. The common thread that links these industries, was the lack of customer-centricity from the established players. While their customers’ expectations of what great customer experience looked like had changed significantly, they were in thrall to what had worked for them in the past being good enough to secure their future.
Poor customer experience just doesn’t cut it anymore. Customers now have a range of options to choose from and will go elsewhere if their expectations aren’t being matched. No barrier to entry is high enough to prevent the tech behemoths (e.g. Amazon, Google etc.) from entering the market. If they sense an opportunity to improve customer experience and the value that that entails, no business model is safe.
The organisations that have weathered the storm and come out stronger than before, are those that have placed the customer front and centre of their strategy. Customer-centric organisations have built robust business models that rely on delivering excellence in customer experience over all else. This has built customer loyalty by focusing on the customer’s lifetime value over any short-term gains that could diminish their experience.
Optimising customer experience and therefore embedding customer-centricity throughout the organisation provides the blueprint for any future growth, protecting the organisation from unforeseen threats.
Moments of elevation are experiences that rise above the routine. They make us feel engaged, joyful, surprised, motivated
Moments of pride commemorate people’s achievements. They are showing us at our best: when earning recognition, when we’re conquering challenges and showing courage.
Moments of insight deliver realisations and transformations.
Moments of connection bond us together
Many of the defining moments in our lives, and our customers’ lives, are the result of accident or luck but why would we leave our most meaningful, memorable moments to chance when we can create them?
Listen to and understand your customers
People want what they want when where and how they want it. Expectations have shifted over the internet era and will continue to do so over time. To stay relevant, we need to be two steps ahead by knowing what customers want before they do. We can start to do this by observing and empathising with their needs, pains and jobs to be done.
Analyse and aggregate insights
Customers only care about what organisations are doing for them. If we understand what they do, we can design experiences that delight them. By mapping customer insights to your organisation’s value propositions, products and services we can find gaps and opportunities.
Design a strategy to delight customers
It’s all about experiences. The reality is, nobody wants your product or service. Nobody wants a mortgage – they want the experience of living in the house. Design a strategy to upgrade the customer experience and evolve your value proposition to meet it. If customers continue to be delighted, they’ll keep coming back.
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