Customer experience (CX) is something that every business thinks they’re on top of because they provide some kind of customer service, whether it’s technical support, retail service, medical support, or any other type of service for that matter. But it’s important to understand that customer experience and customer service are neither synonymous nor interchangeable.
Customer service is the act of providing resolution to a problem presented to you by a customer. The customer experience speaks more to the manner in which you go about resolving that issue. It goes beyond simply deciding what hold music to use, or the number of rings to allow. CX gets deeper into your total customer journey. It is your face to the marketplace, and should be evaluated jointly and severally for every contact channel (phone, SMS, email, chat, etc) you maintain.
Now that you understand that difference, how do you craft a customer experience?
First things first, you have to be able to put yourself in your customers’ shoes without any consideration for your internal processes. One of the most repeated mistakes I see businesses make when embarking on a customer experience evaluation is that they will consistently make excuses for their existing customer experiences. I will routinely hear, “that’s the way we’ve always done it”, or “we have to do that because of our CRM/Accounting/Phone system”. Believe me when I tell you that your customers have no sympathy for your internal system limitations.
Another common mistake that I see from companies is they try to make very ornate customer experiences that are highly personalized (read as: very expensive). The problem with these types of experiences is that they don’t provide the ROI that you think they do. According to a Gartner survey 64% of respondents indicated that the customer experience was more important than price when measuring purchase intent, but according to a survey conducted by Salesforce.com only 67% of respondents said they would pay more for goods or services to have a better customer experience. The take-away is that a perfectly adequate frictionless customer experience is good enough. The “WOW!” experience simply isn’t worth the extra money you spend to provide it. Simply solve the customer issues.
Finally, omni-channel; if you’re not doing it yet, you should be moving in that direction. We are living in the most connected marketplace the world has ever known. 18-24 year olds today have no concept of a world where the internet was not part of their life. Kids in elementary schools have smartphones, and they know how to use them. Any father of a teenager knows that you can text your kid at almost any hour and get a quick response, but try to call them and you’re going to find out what an unconfigured voicemail box sounds like. Ready or not, the idea of the classic call center where customer service is delivered by phone is living on borrowed time. Every platform is now an opportunity to add to your customer experience and they all need to be evaluated and constructed to be consistent.
In conclusion, when evaluating your customer experience, it’s important to put everything on the table and leave no part of the process un-inspected, all the way down to the hold music, the email signature, and the URL on your website.
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