Customer service is one of the many touchpoints that can influence an overall customer experience but should not be confused with CX itself, which encompasses every element and stage of a customer's journey with your brand.
Customer experience (CX) is the broad and overarching sum of every experience, across every touchpoint, a customer has with a business. Unlike customer service, CX is not transactional but influences customers’ overall perception and can begin before a customer even comes into contact with your website or product.
In his blog for the Harvard Business Review, Adam Richardson says:
“People have been grappling with a definition of customer experience for several years. Sometimes it’s defined as digital experiences and interactions, such as on a website or a smartphone. In other cases, customer experience is focused on retail or customer service, or the speed at which problems are solved in a call center.
To be really successful on a long-term basis, customer experience needs to be seen as all these things, and more. It is the sum-totality of how customers engage with your company and brand, not just in a snapshot in time, but throughout the entire arc of being a customer.”
CX optimisation focuses on pre-empting and designing each touchpoint between brand and customer to ensure that expectations are met, if not exceeded, and the experience is positive at each interaction.
Whether they have consciously considered and worked to develop it or not, every business provides customer experience.
Customer service specifically refers to the assistance and advice a company provides to customers, before, during or after purchase. It is transactional and easily quantifiable and occurs at set points within the customer journey. Customer service can have a huge effect on customer experience, but it is still just one element of it.
Customer service once formed the basis of customer experience. But with so many business transactions now occurring online, without any person-to-person interaction, these days customer service is often encountered only when a problem occurs or an issue arises. For this reason, it can be said that customer service steps in when CX fails.
Bad customer service can ruin a brand’s customer experience but get the CX right and many customers can avoid dealing with customer service in the first place.
How Customer Service Influences CX
Though some customers may never experience your customer service provision, getting it right for those that do can have a huge impact on your CX.The way that a business behaves when a customer needs assistance will leave a lasting impression and can hugely affect their overall impression of a brand.
Because CX is, to a certain extent and by its very nature, not entirely under a business’s control, it’s essential to get those things that are quantifiable and controllable, like customer service and UX, right.
Use Customer Journey Mapping to Bring all your CX elements together
To optimise CX, you need to consider every single touchpoint between your brand and your customers. The best way to do this is via customer journey mapping. To get you started, we’ve compiled a list of some really handy, but really cheap, tools that you can use for customer journey mapping. And to help you through the process we’ve written an e-book – download our Introduction to Customer Journey Mapping here.