2021 sees us introduce our Service Series. Our informative blog that seeks to cover key areas of Customer Experience, share tips for success and discuss some of those bigger issues surrounding Service in the AV and IT communities.
To kick-off we’re unpicking some of the customer support language we regularly come across and what those terms mean.
In a world that is becoming ever-more customer centric, what really is the difference between Customer Experience, Customer Service and Customer Success? These terms are often used interchangeably to discuss the post-sales support phase, but they are by no means one and the same.
Customer Experience is not just about how your customers engage with your service support function, but with every element of your organisation. Each and every touchpoint they have with your business, from their initial engagement with your sales team, to communication during project deployment and on-going support, shapes their experience.
And a consistently good experience has the power to ensure new and renewed business with those happy clients. Conversely, a poor experience can lead customers to seek a better experience elsewhere – bad news for you, great news for your competitors!
Put plainly, it is down to the entire business to ensure customers have the best possible experience throughout their dealings with you, across departments and functions (which means, by the way, having excellent cohesion and communication internally – more on that to come).
A simple outward-in assessment of what that journey looks like for your customer base can help identify areas of strength and those areas that may need improving to ensure you are delivering the very best all-round experience.
Now this is about your service function and is the term that we most think of when discussing customer support. Customer Service is about resolving issues. It is that reactive, problem-solving activity that responds directly to a customer request for support.
Customer Service is measured with KPIs, requests are time-sensitive and are always focussed on the resolution – how quickly and how effortlessly (more on that later in the series).
But don’t get comfortable thinking this is just about break/fix support. Customer service encompasses all support requests whether that’s for training, quotations for end-of-life parts or just general advice on system usage and functionality. How you deal with those requests, from first response right through to resolution is fundamental to how your Customer Service is perceived.
And don’t forget excellent customer service is based on your customer’s experience. Though your KPIs may look rosy, don’t forget to put yourself in your customers shoes at any given time (not too difficult given we are all consumers of customer service in our personal lives) and ask honestly what that journey looks like.
Now we’re talking! Customer Success is that step further and though some businesses are only just taking tentative steps into the world of CS, there are forward-thinking start-ups embracing it from the get-go.
So what is it?
Well, if Customer Service is the reactive support function, Customer Success is its pro-active cousin.
CS is about relationship management within a service organisation, it is about providing added value, enhanced support and is measured by revenue generation and customer retention.
It is a commercial strategy.
Reducing churn (attrition), keeping competitors from the door, increasing customer loyalty and that all-important share of wallet growth are key benefits of having a really good CS strategy in place.
But for much of the AV and IT worlds, its unchartered territory. Which also means it is a huge opportunity. Providing differentiation with clear and measurable commercial gains to be had, who wouldn’t want to explore a Customer Success strategy for their business this year?
When all these elements are in place (and in good shape) the commercial benefits can be huge. So what does your Service Strategy look like for 2021 and how can you start pushing the boundaries of truly excellent support in the industry?