I occasionally receive the question, "What's the difference between customer service and customer experience?"
The simple answer to that question used to be that customer service formed the basis of the customer experience. A customer's main interaction with a business was a person-to-person exchange, either by visiting a store or business, or by speaking to an employee of the company on the phone to place an order, voice a complaint, ask a question, etc. The company representative had the opportunity to deliver great customer service, thus providing a great customer experience.
But, like most everything in today's marketplace, customer experience has changed — it is much more than person-to-person service. Thanks to technology, companies can now connect with their customers in exciting new ways. Social media channels allow companies the opportunity to interact with customers, share tips and ideas, and add extra value to the product or service they offer. Companies make it fun through "gamification," or creating fun game-like experiences for customers.
Here are some examples:
One of the interactive games on the Home Shopping Network's website is a daily jigsaw puzzle. When customers solve the puzzle, it reveals to them a special deal or promotion.
An amazing app by Coca-Cola allows you to buy a Coke for someone on the other side of the world. And, the Coke machine dispensing the free gift has a video camera, so the giver can see the expression of the lucky recipient when he or she finds out the drink is free. How fun is that? Amazing!
TV shows are connecting with viewers as well. Many allow viewers the opportunity to interact during the show via smartphone, computer, iPad, etc. Some shows include a "feed" along the bottom or side of the screen featuring comments from Twitter and Facebook.
Some of these innovations would seem to move part of the responsibility for the customer experience from the customer service department to the marketing department. Where does that leave customer service?
None of this takes away from the need to continue providing excellent customer service. True, some of the focus of the customer experience has shifted, and technology has expanded the avenues for building customer relationships. However, despite its cool factor and the fun that technology offers, when there is a question or problem, it cannot replace outstanding personal service. Customer service remains a vital part of any company's success, and that personal touch will always be needed.