At first glance, customer experience and customer service can seem to be the same thing. However, although they overlap, they are two different concepts.
According to Harvard Business Review, customer experience is a top area in which organizations are prioritizing investments over the next year. This shows how important customer experience is, but what does this mean for you?
Let’s look at what customer experience and customer service are, how they differ from one another, and why they are crucial to the development of your ecommerce business.
What is customer experience (CX)?
Simply put, customer experience refers to customers’ overall experience with a business. It encompasses the customer’s entire journey with your brand, from their discovery of your business right up to repeat purchase. As such, it is a continuous process that involves many elements.
What is customer service?
Customer service is the help or advice provided to customers by staff during and after their purchase of a product or service. It often involves problem-solving. While it is not the same as customer experience, it is part of it; this means that customer service is an element of customer experience.
The role of customer service has changed since the advent of self-service. It now involves both a human presence and technology. Nowadays, a large part of the customer’s journey is typically automated, and human customer service is a smaller part of the overall customer experience than it was years ago. However, though it is small, it remains mighty.
Customer service support can be provided in a variety of ways, including through chatbots, FAQs, call support, live chat and email.
What are the differences between CX and customer service?
Customer service begins when a customer approaches your business to purchase something or to seek assistance. This means that the customer initiates the process. Typically, once the purchase is completed or the issue is resolved, the customer service process ends.
On the other hand, customer experience begins earlier. Its inception can be as early as when a brand tries to leave a positive impression on prospective customers. For instance, even before thinking of a product, you might encounter a brand’s Instagram post and come away feeling positive about them.
Reactive or proactive?
At the moment, customer service tends to be reactive. This makes sense since the customer initiates the process. Support staff will react to a customer’s inquiry or call for assistance.
In contrast, to obtain the most out of customer experience strategies, they need to be proactive and anticipate customers’ needs. This helps to foster and maintain positive relationships between a business and its consumers.
There are many ways to deliver a more proactive customer experience. For example, you can improve the customer’s experience of your brand by implementing interactive website design into your online store. This can include:
- Optimizing your navigation menu
- Adding a search bar to your website
- Creating interactive product pages
Since customer service is crucial to the customer experience, you need to be able to evaluate whether the strategy you are using is working. This can be done by keeping an eye on key metrics; however, the metrics used to measure customer experience and customer service are not the same.
To evaluate the quality of customer service, businesses can use the customer effort score (CES) or customer satisfaction score (CSAT) which, as the name implies, is used for measuring customer satisfaction.
First contact resolution (FCR) is another metric that you can use to measure the effectiveness of your customer service. In essence, it measures the number of issues, questions or queries that have been solved on the customer’s first interaction with your brand’s customer service. A high FCR rate usually translates into high customer satisfaction.
To measure the success of a customer experience strategy, you might want to look at net promoter score (NPS). This measures the loyalty of a customer to the brand and gives an idea of how they feel about it.
You can also use the bounce rate to determine the success of your website’s overall engagement. The bounce rate refers to the percentage of single-page sessions; that is, the percentage of visitors who have entered your website, then left without exploring other pages. This rate can be very useful to figure out whether your website is appealing to consumers.
Why do customer experience and customer service matter?
Overall customer experience is crucial to creating a loyal customer base, and providing excellent customer service is a great place to start.
Good customer experience can convert a possible customer into an actual customer. Not only that, but it can increase customer satisfaction. Delivering good customer service encourages customers’ loyalty, increasing the likelihood of repeat purchases. In contrast, 70% of customers say they would abandon their purchase if they had a bad customer service experience.
Customer experience and customer service are becoming the focus points of businesses because they are the key to growing a strong customer base.
Tips to improve customer service and experience
It wouldn’t be fair to talk about their importance without giving you some tips to boost your customer experience and customer service strategies. Below are five recommendations to do just that.
Personalized customer interaction
While automated processes help keep things running smoothly and can improve response times, a little personalization is always appreciated. Customers like to feel unique and cared for.
This can be easily achieved by, for example, providing customers with tailored recommendations or using their names in emails. However, this necessitates their personal data, which comes with its own pitfalls. For this reason, online businesses must always remain aware of common vulnerabilities and exposures in relation to cybersecurity to keep the data they collect safe and ensure consumers’ protection.
Customer segmentation refers to the division of customers based on shared characteristics. These can be demographics such as age, location, and behavior like the products they buy and how much they spend. Segmenting your customers can help you understand them better and develop a customer experience plan which meets their needs and expectations.
Use data to inform your decisions
There are many tools out there that allow brands to collect data that is relevant to them. For instance, an Amazon rank tracker can be very useful for Amazon sellers to figure out where they are in the Amazon search engine results pages; however, you need to be able to take the data it provides and use it. Not ranking highly? Why is that and how can you fix it?
In order to benefit from data, you need to analyze it and use what you learn to inform your decision making. Metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) can help you develop strategies and give you ideas on how to attract more customers to your business, as well as optimize the customer’s journey.
Say you look at the bounce rate for your website and see that it is very high. While people are finding your site, they do not stick around for long. This is likely due to a lack of engaging content on your site. Now that you know this, you can employ various tactics to remedy it, such as creative blog ideas, interactive product pages and user-generated content.
Focus on omnichannel support
This one is particularly important for online businesses. Today, 90% of customers expect omnichannel service, and customer experience strategies must reflect this. As we saw above, anticipating customers’ needs and fulfilling their expectations is a big part of delivering a great customer experience. With this in mind, a digital customer experience strategy can be very helpful for ecommerce businesses to provide their consumers with a seamless customer experience.
Shift customer service from reactive to proactive.
Providing proactive customer service can lead to increased customer satisfaction and an overall more proactive customer experience. If your customers feel looked after, they will come back and even bring friends along with them! You can do this in a few ways, including having tutorials and helpful articles about your product/service on your site, and by anticipating the issues your customers are most likely to encounter.
Use ecommerce SEO
Ecommerce SEO success is important to the overall success of an online brand; it can greatly increase the quality of the experience you offer your customers. It’s incredibly frustrating to search for something only to get irrelevant results, so by providing great content targeted at common searches, you can ease this frustration.
Be mindful of customer reviews.
Why are reviews important? Well, they can make or break a brand and set the tone for the way in which a consumer will approach your business. Good reviews help to establish trust early on, while bad ones (even if it is only a few!) can send consumers running for the hills.
The customer feedback you obtain from reviews is valuable; it can reveal which parts of your customer service strategy are working and which are not. From this, you can formulate a plan to work on the areas needing improvement. It can also help to look into how to respond to negative reviews the right way; when done properly, it can turn unhappy customers into happy ones, and even improve your brand’s reputation.
As we have seen, customer service is an integral part of customer experience. While customer service revolves around interactions, customer experience is about the overall experience during the journey. Achieving excellent customer service and experience greatly encourages customer retention, and the key to doing so is meeting and exceeding customer expectations.
About the Author
Jessica Day is the Senior Director for Marketing Strategy at Dialpad, a modern business communications platform that takes every kind of conversation to the next level—turning conversations into opportunities. Jessica is an expert in collaborating with multifunctional teams to execute and optimize marketing efforts, for both company and client campaigns. Jessica Day also published articles for domains such as VirtualSpeech and Virtual Vocations. Here is her LinkedIn.
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