Is It Customer Service Or Customer Experience?
We’ve all been there—you walk into a store, into the dressing room, or up to the register only to be greeted by an employee who would clearly rather be somewhere else. They may be avoiding eye contact, playing on their phone, or chatting with other employees instead of giving you an ounce of attention. How much money and time did you spend at that store? Probably not very much.
Contrast that with a store where you walk in and are warmly greeted by an employee who can answer your questions or point you in the direction of someone who can. You feel welcomed and have a pleasant experience throughout the entire shopping process as your needs are met without any extra pressure. If you’re like most people, you’re likely to spend much more time and money in this kind of store.
What’s the difference between these two scenarios we’re all too familiar with? It comes down to the difference between customer service and customer experience. Customer service is the bare-bones transaction between a customer and a company, such as checking out in store or online. Customer service often comes across as being forced and that the person is doing the job because they have to and not because they want to. In short, customer service isn’t very positive for customers.
Customer experience is the complete opposite. Employees working to improve the customer experience are there because they want to be and because they realize the importance of their job. While customer service focuses mainly on a single transaction, namely taking your money, customer experience considers all the aspects of a customer’s interaction with the company, including what a customer will think, see, touch, and smell. Those extra features you experience in a quality store like employees who introduce themselves, readable signage throughout the store, and attentiveness to your confused looks all lend themselves to a company that is making sure customers have experiences, not just transactions.
Companies may be tempted to stick with customer service. After all, it is often cheaper because it is so bare bones. However, customers can almost immediately notice when the focus isn’t on customer experience. It could be a lack of quick help, a messy store or confusing website, or a rude employee—anything that makes a customer feel more like a number than like an actual human being.
Customer experience doesn’t have to be expensive or involved. It can be as simple as training front-line employees on how to interact with customers in a helpful and positive manner, and potentially even offering a rewards program for good customer interactions. Customer experience can also be as simple as keeping a clean and organized business so that customers and employees can find everything they need. There are obviously larger changes that can be made from the top down, including changing the store layout and ambiance, improving employee training, and creating a more customer-centric culture, but what customer experience really comes down to is attitude—do employees really want to be there? A good attitude can make a customer service representative extremely impactful and very good at his or her job.