Is taking care of customers a strategy or a tactic? Is it transactional or a relationship? Does it encompass problem-solving or the totality of the experience with the customer? The answer to all of this is…all of this.
In some circles, the process of problem-solving with customers is a series of tactical transactions. In other circles, customer care involves an overarching strategy that addresses making the total customer relationship as positive as possible. In some cases, transactional, tactical care is called customer service, while strategic relationship-building and tending is called customer experience. No matter what you call it, it’s all important. Maximum benefits are achieved when a global customer relationship strategy is developed, then implemented in a hands-on way with every customer conversation.
An article in strategy-business.com declares: “Customer service is not customer experience (and vice versa)… Think holistically about how people are interacting with your brand — and invest accordingly.”
The article points out that “…customer service is just one aspect of the entire customer experience. It usually comes into play when something has gone wrong; it is the place where companies fix things when part of the experience has been less than satisfactory.”
“When companies conflate customer service and customer experience or put too much emphasis on extraordinary efforts to satisfy customers, they sell both customers and employees short. Don’t address the symptoms while ignoring the underlying disease. Customer service needs to be put into context — which means putting customer experience first,” the article continues.
Drilling down further, the article emphasizes: “To create a relationship rather than just have a series of interactions with a customer, [Gary Moore, CEO of ServiceSource, which provides outsourced B2B sales and support] recommends looking at the potential life cycle of a client relationship — which includes selling, onboarding, maintenance, and renewal. What happens after the sales rep’s handshake? Notes Moore, ‘I’ve seen companies that do a great job of selling, but then make a mess of onboarding. Or maybe they onboard, but then they don’t do health checks.’ Relationships are built on moments great and small, and human connection matters.”
Unsurprisingly, one of the keys to creating and maintaining excellent customer experience is happy employees, according to strategy-business.com. The article points out that too many companies focus on customers instead of employees, adding, “Why not make the experience better for employees, too?”
What are the takeaways from the customer service/customer experience discussion as presented by strategy-business.com?
Customers merit a caring, committed relationship every bit as much as any romantic couple, friendship or family members. Among other attributes, that involves consistent dedication to establishing a beneficial association, and continual efforts to enhance it;
Meaningful, successful relationships are built on trust and through the passage of time. They don’t come anywhere close to full potential if efforts are hit-and-miss and viewed as a series of one-off transactions;
Investment of time, energy and money to make customer relationships thrive is critical. Trying to do it “on the cheap” is a bad idea that will almost always backfire.
Next up: More insights and ideas around customer relationship-building and management.
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Mark Lusky (aka The Happy Curmudgeon)
is the owner of a Denver-based marketing communications firm. He’s a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience, and author of A Wandering Wondering Jew… and co-author of Don’t Get Mad, Get Leverage.