Both customer service and customer experience are talked about often, but what is customer service experience?
Chris Zane, founder and CEO of Zane’s Cycles, said in 2011 that “customer service starts when the customer experience fails.” How right he is! If you want to stop people from calling customer service, make the customer experience perfect. Of course, that’s not realistic.
When customers do call, a critical moment presents itself. We have the opportunity to convert someone who is upset with us (because we delivered a subpar experience or missed their expectations) into a happy customer for life.
Customer experience is defined as “how customers feel at every single interaction with a company.”
The feel part is important because perception is reality, so if it feels difficult or frustrating or time-consuming, then it probably is.
The every single interaction part is clear: whether it’s marketing, purchasing, onboarding, customer service, or something else, everything adds up to form the customer experience.
So customer service experience is the part of the customer experience when the customer requires help or service. And often, they need that help or service because of something that went wrong elsewhere in the experience. So as a company, we’re starting off on the defensive.
The first rule of thumb
Serve the customer in the channel of their choice, not the channel of your choice.
If somebody called or emailed your company with a customer service question, would you tell them to tweet instead? Of course not.
So when people tweet at companies, why do so many of them tell the customer to call or email? That doesn’t make any sense.
A customer tweets at your brand because that is their channel of choice. Chances are, they already know you have a toll-free phone number and an email address, but they chose not to use those channels. Or maybe they did and didn’t get a satisfactory answer. Don’t tell them what channel you want them to use; it wouldn’t happen in other channels, and it’s not OK to do it in social media either.
Be aware that preferred channels have shifted over time, so companies must shift as well. According to Sitel Group, the telephone was the most popular channel for brand engagement as recently as 2018. But by 2020 it was in third place behind email and online chat, with social media not far behind.
When something goes wrong
It would be great if your company didn’t need a customer service team, but eventually something will go wrong with your product or service. What happens next can mean the difference between a loyal customer and a lost one.
“Loyalty is tied to a customer’s ongoing choice to do business with you, refer others to you, give you the benefit of the doubt, and have the sense of a positive relationship with you. Or the alternative: cut ties and take their business to your competitor,” noted a report by Zendesk. “The factor that determines which door your customers choose is service: good experiences drive loyalty. Bad experiences tank it.”
When the company asked consumers which are the most frustrating aspects of a bad customer service experience, more than half said long hold or wait times while interacting with an agent. About 40 percent said either automated systems that make it hard to reach a human agent or having to repeat information multiple times.
In terms of the most important aspects of a good customer service experience, 60 percent said it occurs when an issue is resolved quickly, and more than 40 percent said it happens when support is available 24/7.
So look at the customer service experience as an opportunity to right a wrong with the customer and set them back on track to being a brand advocate and positive referral source.