Customer Experience12 Minute Read
What’s the Difference Between Customer Experience and Customer Service, and Why Does It Matter?
If you lead a business—and especially if you lead a retail business—you very likely already know that to call customer service important is to make something of an understatement. And, whether it’s a toll-free number or a Twitter account, you also probably have a system in place to offer some level of outreach or interaction with your clients and customers.
“Great customer service is critical for attracting repeat customers and building positive word of mouth and a respected brand,” as Forbes’ Bruce Upbin explains. “Great customer service builds employee morale. Everyone wants to be proud of where they work and people are more engaged and productive if they work for a company that is committed to doing whatever it takes to consistently deliver an awesome experience for customers.”
But, while almost everyone understands the importance of customer service, not as much is understood about the other side of the equation, namely customer experience. And wait—don’t those two terms mean pretty much the same thing?
The Difference between Customer Service and Customer Experience
While they both do refer to the same process of customer interaction, there is a fundamental difference between customer service and customer experience. The first term represents the efforts you make to interact and engage with your customers, clients and prospects. The second term represents the experience these important individuals actually have when they engage with you.
In other words, customer experience and customer service are two sides of the same coin, possessing a symbiotic relationship with one another. Entrepreneur’s Patrick Bet-David encourages thinking of customer experience as the proactive side of the coin, and customer service the reactive side.
“For example, customer service could be helping an upset client with an issue they are having with your product or service,” Bet-David writes. “Customer experience is providing things such as a loyalty rewards program or special promotions for customers’ birthdays.”
"Customer experience is providing things such as a loyalty rewards program or special promotions for customers' birthdays." – Bet David Click To Tweet
By this logic, delivering exceptional customer service means offering a superior customer experience. But in an era when communications have fragmented and proliferated in so many ways—and now include everything from the traditional telephone to emails, text messaging, social media interaction, and dozens of other channels—that can be easier said than done.
Building an Exemplary Customer Experience with Superior Customer Service
“The next generation of great companies will be led by CEOs who are serious about great customer service,” Upbin predicts. “The quality of a company’s customer service matters as much as the quality of its code. Algorithms can fail, patents can expire, but a reputation for great service endures.”
"The next generation of great companies will be led by CEOs who are serious about great customer service." – Upbin Click To Tweet
To ensure the quality of your customer service, though, you must first fully understand exactly how your customers experience your business. And this is why customer experience has been a tough concept for some to pin down: There’s no universal definition. It’s a different thing to each different business, and it’s constantly changing.
“People have been grappling with a definition of customer experience for several years,” as the Harvard Business Review’s Adam Richardson points out. The term sometimes refers to a focus on “retail or customer service, or the speed at which problems are solved in a call center,” he explains, but sometimes it’s “defined as digital experiences and interactions, such as on a website or a smartphone.”
Neither of these definitions is wrong, of course. But a truer definition of customer experience lies in considering all of the ways in which a business interacts and engages with customers, which can include the use of tools as diverse as a high-volume call center, digital sales reps, automated emails, and the many other communications channels used by the modern contact center.
The type of business you lead will dictate which of these experiences is more frequently used among your customers. But make no mistake: For true, long-term success in a multi-channel customer landscape, businesses looking to provide a premium customer experience should be ready to embrace best practices across all applicable modern channels. Failing to do so means risking being supplanted by a savvier competitor.
How Customer Experience Experts Can Help Ensure Customer Service Success
Yet ensuring a superior customer experience isn’t a one-size-fits-all prospect. Thanks to the human factor, any given day will bring with it new challenges and opportunities. Truly effective customer service requires constantly solving an equation in which the values remain continuously in flux.
Ensuring that each customer has a superior experience with your brand across every channel has become a complex and sophisticated task. It should come as no surprise to learn, then, that most business leaders today choose to entrust the entire process to a dedicated contact center partner.
There may be no single, magical solution to customer service. But there are many techniques developed over the past decades that can be combined to make success as close to a certainty as possible. These methods are readily available to contact center specialists, who also have the technological footprint necessary to ensure comprehensive, multi-channel customer access, with the latest version of all necessary hardware or software at their fingertips.
From minimizing on-hold times to managing call flow as efficiently as possible, from offering premium technology and personable, American-based agents to speedily fielding inquiries on all channels, expert contact center solutions providers such as Working Solutions understand how to ensure a superior customer experience—and they know how to deliver stellar customer service as a result.
6 Steps Customer Service BPOs Take to Provide Outstanding Service
An outstanding business process outsourcing (BPO) provider should take the following steps to provide a great customer experience and customer service:
- Hire and Train Competent Agents: BPOs typically hire agents with good communication skills, problem-solving abilities, and a customer-oriented mindset. Agents should be trained to handle different types of customers, understand their needs, and provide satisfactory solutions.
- Use the Right Technology: Having access to the latest technology ensure a seamless and efficient customer experience. Customer care BPOs should also invest in tools such as customer relationship management (CRM) software, chatbots, and artificial intelligence (AI) to improve customer service.
- Create a Customer-Centric Culture: A customer-centric culture that puts the customer at the center of all operations is key to successful customer service operations. This culture should be ingrained in the company’s values and reflected in all interactions with customers.
- Measure Customer Satisfaction: BPOs have access to measuring customer satisfaction through feedback surveys, social media, and other channels. The company should analyze this data to identify areas of improvement and take appropriate action.
- Provide Timely and Effective Support: Outsourcing customer service allows businesses to provide timely and effective support to customers. This includes responding promptly to queries and resolving issues quickly and efficiently.
- Continuous Improvement: Reputable BPO providers continuously improve its processes, systems, and technology to enhance the customer experience. The company should keep track of emerging trends and technologies in customer service and implement them to stay ahead of the competition.
Outstanding customer service is about much more than just meeting standards. It’s about going the extra mile to create an exceptional experience for every single customer. And that’s something that the best customer service BPOs are constantly striving to do. By following these six steps, BPO providers can build a team of agents that consistently provides outstanding service and creates an exceptional experience at every touchpoint.
Tips to Identify a Reputable Customer Service BPO
To determine if a BPO will provide great customer experience and customer service, you can consider the following factors:
- Industry Reputation: Research the company reputation within the industry. Check out online reviews, ratings, and customer feedback to get an idea of how they have performed in the past.
- Service Offerings: Look at its service offerings and see if they align with your business needs. Also, check if they have experience in providing services for your industry.
- Communication: Assess the provider’s communication channels and responsiveness. Make sure they have reliable communication channels and are responsive to your inquiries and concerns.
- Quality Assurance: Check if the BPO has a quality assurance process in place. Ensure that they have established performance metrics and regularly measure their results against them.
- Technology and Infrastructure: Ensure that the company has access to the latest technology and infrastructure to provide high-quality services. This includes the use of advanced customer relationship management (CRM) software, chatbots, and other automation tools.
- Compliance and Security: Verify if the BPO complies with industry regulations and standards. Additionally, ensure that they have robust security measures in place to protect your data and customer information.
By taking the time to thoroughly research, vet and engage a customer service BPO provider, you can ensure that your business is running as efficiently and profitably as possible. However, it is important to remember that customer service is ultimately about providing service and creating relationships. The best customer service BPO organizations not only provide processes and protocols for answering inbound calls but also strives to understand customers on a deeper level by truly listening and addressing their underlying concerns. By outsourcing contact center operations to a trusted expert, your company can replicate exceptional experiences quickly while tailoring them to the individual needs of each customer.
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Chief Executive and Founder
Published on June 8, 2018
Published on June 8, 2018