Customer experience is a term that shows up everywhere in today’s business marketing. It’s a “must have,” “the single most important factor” and “if you don’t master it, you’re dead.” Most experts agree, customer experience is the most important differentiator a company can possess to gain a competitive advantage.
But, does anyone really even know the difference between customer experience and customer service? As long as the customer is happy we should be good, right? And, don’t most companies have a designated customer service department to handle their customer issues, complaints and general inquiries?
Defining the differences
Customer service can simply be defined as, “what’s my business doing to help solve my customers’ issues,” while customer experience can be defined as, “how is my customer feeling or what are they thinking every single time they interact with my business?”
Now, let’s put these into perspective with the mortgage industry. Rocket Mortgage is often thought to be one of the first in the industry to implement a customer experience program. When they introduced their ‘push button mortgage’ concept, they focused on technology to simplify the mortgage application user experience. Instead of the applicant having to manually type in all of their employment and banking information, the system would retrieve the information and auto-fill the application form fields. It also kept the customers informed on the status of their loans. What a great concept! Make it easy for the customer to complete an application and maintain vital communications about the process. It’s been so effective that there are now more than 15 different technology vendors that offer the same online borrower experience. Not only did Rocket Mortgage address specific customer needs (traditional customer service mentality), but by implementing advanced technology into their operations, they were able to learn more about their customers holistic needs and begin to address them in real time (customer experience mentality). That, my friends, is a game changer.
Who really drives customer experience?
One demographic is especially customer experience driven – the millennials. They’re the ones who are truly re-defining the way business is done today. Millennials are viewed as the group with the greatest lifetime value to a company. They are loyal and love to tell their friends about a great experience they had with a brand or company. Conversely, they aren’t afraid to share their bad experiences and will share them online as well for the world to read.
In a nutshell, customer experience goes way beyond traditional customer service. It’s about re-defining the way your entire company interacts with the customer and how your brand makes them feel. Here’s an easy way to get you thinking about it even more: how do you feel when I say “DMV?” Now, how do you feel when I say “Amazon?” Their perceived customer experiences are typically not viewed the same – which do you prefer? Now take that thinking and start to find ways to apply it at your own company. Your customers will thank you for it.