What is the 'Customer Experience?' Hint: It's Not Just Customer Service
October 01, 2012
By Tracey E. Schelmetic
, TMCnet Contributor
While new trends and new thinking in contact center business have brought progress in serving customers – particularly in a changing marketplace – some of the terms, trends and language can be rather confusing. One area of call center business many people find themselves confused is in the difference between “customer service” and “the customer experience.” The differences are subtle, but important.
While a textbook could probably be written about the nuances between the two, the easy way of putting it is that customer service is one element of customer experience, writes Business2Community’s Rachel Miller. While customer service falls under the umbrella of the customer experience, it’s just one element. The customer experience refers to the customer’s relationship with a company, including not only direct contact but elements like advertising, social media, product perceptions and reviews, retail locations and the consistency of all the messages a customer receives from a company.
To build a superior customer experience, therefore, a company needs to keep consistency in its messages above all things. A customer having a very different experience in a retail location from his or her experience with the contact center is unacceptable. So how do you improve the customer experience? Miller offers some tips, including:
Investing in your employees. High employee dissatisfaction, turnover, burnout and boredom are not good ways to present your employees to your customers. To combat this, Miller says smart companies invest in top-notch training, particularly in the call center, in order to turn their employees into the kind of workers that delight customers.
Appoint a “chief customer officer.” Too often, customers are treated as fragmented parts of a whole, and nobody really has an eye on the customer’s entire experience. According to Miller, there is no better way to unite a company than hiring a C-level customer advocate. A Chief Customer Officer (CCO) represents the customer in the boardroom and actively manages customer engagement policies and procedures across the organization. This person is also directly responsible for management of the call center.
Listen to your customers. Today’s contact center, retail management and sales force management solutions generate tons of data, but it’s not always going to give you a complete picture of customers’ experiences. The best way to achieve this, says Miller, is to survey your customers regularly in a way that doesn’t annoy them. Keep your surveys dedicated to the channel (send surveys via Twitter (News - Alert) to keep an eye on your Twitter channel; use IVR-based surveys for the phone channel and Web-based surveys for your Web channel).
“Providing consistent messaging and consistent customer experiences across all channels is critical in today’s era of corporate transparency,” writes Miller.
Many companies seeking to improve the customer experience in the call center are finding the best way to do it is to embrace an all-in-one contact center platform that lets them manage the entire call center customer experience as a whole. Providers such as 8X8 offer hosted call center solutions that deliver greater agent productivity and flexible call center management, at a fraction of the cost of traditional call center solutions.
All call centers can take advantage of these solutions’ built-in features that were once available only to larger companies: skills-based routing, customizable reporting, virtual call center capabilities, real-time monitoring. At the same time, cloud-based call center solutions offer benefits that enterprise-class premise-based solutions don’t: low start-up costs, remote management and reduced need for internal IT resources. In the end, these solutions can help companies attain the kind of consistent message to customers that is so mandatory in order to create an excellent customer experience.
The rewards to doing the customer experience right are likely to benefit far more than simply the customer: they will reach across the enterprise as a whole.
Visit hosted call center solutions provider 8X8 at IT Expo Austin, taking place this week at the Austin, Texas Convention Center. For more information or to register, visit http://itexpo.tmcnet.com/west12/.
8x8 (News - Alert), Inc. is a Platinum sponsor of ITEXPO Austin. Currently in progress at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, TX, ITEXPO (News - Alert) Austin is the world’s premier technology and communications event, serving as the only of its kind. Visit 8x8 in booth #801. For more information on ITEXPO, click here.
Edited by Allison Boccamazzo