According to the dictionary these are the two terms defined:

Customer service: the assistance and advice provided by a company to those people who buy or use its products or services.

Customer experience: the product of an interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship. This interaction includes a customer’s attraction, awareness, discovery, cultivation, advocacy and purchase and use of a service.

Customer service and customer experience are two words tossed around like hot potatoes. But how do they differ, and which one should you focus on?

Customer service is traditionally owned by a single department. That department reaches out to unhappy customers to try to resolve issues but companies really looking to stand apart from the competition are going one step further than simply relying on great customer service.

Customer service is a single part in the equation for determining ultimate customer satisfaction, whereas customer experience is the sum of the parts. Customer experience is about creating actual relationships with customers that go beyond resolving issues and complaints.

In order to create a customer experience that surpasses the efforts of your competition it needs to become a holistic approach and transcend any specific department. It needs to be a strategic business priority.

86% of customers are willing to pay up to 25% more for a better customer experience (InsightSquared)

So which one should you focus on? You need to focus on both. There needs to be a 100% effort on quick resolutions through an excellent customer service strategy. Once that goal is met, your company needs to focus on customer experience. Today it is the biggest brand differentiator. If you create relationships with your customers and make them feel valued then they will become brand advocates and repeat buyers.

Let’s take a look at two examples- the first is an example of what some companies view as customer service.

customer experience

They responded within half an hour, but that’s about it. The person’s issue wasn’t resolved– just acknowledged and chances are they ended up walking out because they were so frustrated. The store ended up losing a customer and if that happens frequently, that’s not good for business.

Now here is an example of one of our customers, Nordstrom, providing a customer experience.

customer experience

They went above and beyond just solving an issue. There wasn’t even an issue to begin with yet they reached out to a customer in attempt to build a relationship with them. The handwritten note was a thoughtful gesture and chances are even if there are only two registers open at Nordstrom in the future, this customer will actually stay in line and make the purchase because she has a relationship with the brand.

Once you have both strategies in place, it’s all about streamlining efforts and letting technology do the heavy hitting. The companies excelling at customer experience are using social customer experience platforms to make sure no customer falls through the cracks or is left unattended to. These new technologies focus on workflow optimization, routing and prioritization, and reporting and analytics to make sure all your successes are being measured. Curious? Click here to learn more.

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