One of the latest phrases that is being used is the customer experience. There is certainly a customer experience anytime a customer or potential customer interacts with the company. The following paragraphs outline some of the relationships between the customer experience and customer service and some of the differences between the two.
The first similarity between the customer experience and customer service is that they both address interaction between the customer and the company.
The second similarity is that both customer experience and customer service have metrics that provide management measurable perspectives that can be used for comparison and training purposes.
The third similarity is that both customer experience and customer service are major components of the business strategy of the company.
The first difference between the customer experience and customer service is that the customer experience is more proactive than customer service, which tends to be primarily reactive.
The second difference is that customer experience does not always have a customer service component; whereas customer service will always have a customer experience component.
The third difference between the customer experience and customer service is that the customer experience can be associated with every aspect between the customer and the company from initial contact with the customer to termination of the company customer relationship whereas customer service is most often limited to customers that have already established a relationship with the company.
Some will argue that the customer experience incorporates customer service. While this is true, the customer experience is inclusive of all functions within the corporation. Hence the customer experience includes marketing to include acquisition of new customers, transforming potential customers into revenue-generating customers, providing products and services to the customers, developing and managing the financial relationship with customers, providing education and training on the use of the products or services for the customer, and finally to repair the customer relationship when one or more aspects of the relationship is not acceptable to either the customer or the company or both. With this perspective of the breadth of the customer experience, the most obvious manager of the customer experience is the CEO. While the CEO may be involved to some extent with customer service, this is not a function that should require the complete attention of the CEO.
Using the argument in the preceding paragraph is clear that customer service is only one component of the customer experience and as such should be managed as a component of the company or as a component of one component of the business with its own metrics that support the overall business of the company. It must also be managed tactically on a day-to-day and customer-by-customer basis while maintaining its perspective to support the overall business strategy.
The bottom line is that customer service is only one component of the company’s business strategy; whereas, the customer experience requires a broader perspective. The customer experience requires metrics from every operation in the company that in some way interacts with the customer (from customer acquisition to termination of the customer relationship) while the customer service operation is focused primarily on customer support. Someone in the C-level should have direct responsibility for setting and managing the customer experience. Maximum company performance should be attained when the company assets are properly tuned to maximize the customer experience.