Customer Service vs. Customer Experience

This week, my service consultant team and I were discussing the difference between customer service and customer experience. Is there a difference? Are these simply two phrases for the same thing?

There is a difference. A huge difference. And at the end of the interaction with your customer, the difference can mean a one-time transaction or a lifetime relationship.

Customer service is a buzz word that is used in abundance today. Companies and managers talk to their staff about it. Training is provided. Companies use some variation of the phrase, “Great Customer Service”, in their advertising to convince prospects to come do business with them.

Customer service is what you do as the function of the interaction with your customer. This includes the duties which you perform to facilitate the process for which your customer came to you. Customer service describes the duties and processes used by you to carry out your assistance for your customer.

Customer experience is the feelings of your customer regarding the interaction with you and your company. How does the customer feel during and after you helped them? This is the key that unlocks excellent customer satisfaction.

Think about your own experiences with companies and organizations. Our great interactions always leave us feeling good. When we have a great experience in our interaction with a company or organization, we feel especially pleased and fully satisfied. We even feel happy.

When our experience with the company was  efficient, acceptable and satisfactorily concluded, we feel rather neutral. We may say it was alright. It was as we expected.

Humans are creatures who are motivated by their feelings. We like to have feel-good experiences. Why do we enjoy food? Yes, we know we need the nutrition, but we enjoy food because of the taste. We enjoy food because it makes us feel good.

Movies are popular because they make us feel happy. We enjoy becoming lost in the story. For a time, we become part of the experience and it is enjoyable.

Many people are sports enthusiasts. Why? Again, because of the way it makes us feel. Many feelings are touched through sports. It’s the hope of the joyful, happy feeling of victory that we seek.

Some of the greatest companies in the world are so because they have done a magnificent job creating amazingly wonderful experiences for their customers. What comes to mind when you think of Disney, Apple, Universal Studios, Ruth Chris Steak House and Nike, to name a few? Most likely, either through your own experience or by the company’s reputation, you have pleasant, happy thoughts and feelings.

And you know what? People who feel strong emotions regarding their experience will tell others. We know all to well, upset customers tell others. But your customers who have a truly exceptional experience will also tell others. Your company and you will get the reputation of delivering great experiences to your customers.

These people will become your promoters.

Take time to reflect on what kind of experience you are giving. Be honest with yourself. What do you do that is truly exceptional and sets you apart from the crowd? What do you do which is just the same as everybody else – “just doin’ my job“? And, what do you do that is leading to poor customer experiences?

Pursue Great!, by developing and implementing a plan under which you will be delivering truly exceptional experiences for each and every customer.  It is well worth the effort!

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