The main purpose of an effective marketing strategy is to develop a strong, lasting relationship with your customers. To do this, a well-thought-out and directional customer experience is key. The terms “customer service” and “customer experience” are often used interchangeably, but understanding the distinction between the two is important.
Customer Service vs. Customer Experience
Customer service outlines the direct sales or support interactions with your customer before, during, and after the sales process.
Customer experience is a more complete term that combines the qualities of your brand with all your company’s touchpoints. Its focus is to create a strong face for your business that will be consistent through all aspects of the customer lifecycle. Overall, positive customer experiences can position businesses to increase consumer satisfaction, reduce customer turnover, and, ultimately, increase revenue.
More and more businesses are realizing how important their customer experiences are. “73% of customers point to experience as the third most important factor in their purchasing decisions, behind the price and product quality,” according to research collected by PwC.
How to Create a Customer Experience
A major part of developing your customer experience is defining your target audience, and there are many ways to do this. Analytics detailing website and social media engagement will give you important demographic data that can help you chart key information about your clients. Using this data, the team can create customer profiles (e.g., Anna is a typical 36-year-old customer with young children and a college degree in marketing). This realization about customer “personas” will help you focus on their specific needs and design an experience that is tailored to them.
The more you know your customers, the easier it is to empathize with their needs. The “customer service” response sounds like, “I feel so bad. However, that is just how we do things here.” In this case, it’s great that the employee showed sympathy for the customer, but the customer dissatisfaction remains. Applying empathy at the start of the process will allow you to craft an experience around abolishing your customer’s pain points. For example, the team at Tesla understands that first-time customers need help adjusting to the uniqueness of their product. Part of Tesla’s empathetic customer experience strategy might involve articles, FAQs, a tool for finding electric vehicle charging stations, information about past customer experiences, webinars, and more. All of these resources, in addition to offering basic customer service options like chat and phone support, are ways in which Tesla gets ahead of customer issues before they arise.
Creating an excellent customer experience is a continuous process of business optimization. Over the course of many interactions, businesses need to gather data on what is working and what isn’t.
Along with reporting, the final component of your customer experience plan must involve a system for capturing feedback. Customers and employees should be given ways to share their experiences through polls, social media, or reviews. The resulting data will be vital to any company as they solidify effective processes and identify what to improve.
As the customer experience evolves, businesses must keep ROI in mind. Did we do what we set out to do? Did this decrease customer turnover and increase revenue? Once a customer experience strategy has proven to be a success, further enhancements can, will, and should be made.