Just Say Yes—September, 2018

By shephyken,

  Filed under: Departments, Just Say Yes

Contributing Writer

Service vs. Experience: Know the Difference

What does a good customer experience look like at your company? What does good customer service look like? Ask everyone on your team and listen to the answers. Will they define both terms the same way or differently? It will be interesting to see if your team recognizes the difference between experience and service.

Many people don’t understand the difference between customer experience and customer service, but does it really matter? That said, experience, when it comes to business, is what the customer perceives from the time they enter your store until the time they leave. While it includes customer service—which is a big part of the overall experience—it is also how your offerings are packaged, your advertising and marketing messages, and more. As mentioned, it’s the entire experience. It’s every interaction, human or otherwise, that you have with the brand.

Then there is the definition of customer service. Sure, it may be the “department” that customers go to when they have a problem (as a store owner, that’s probably you), but it also includes every contact the customer has with anyone they encounter in your company. It’s focused on people interacting with people. There’s more to it than that, but for this conversation, let’s stick with these simplistic definitions.

So, knowing the difference between service and experience really doesn’t matter. What’s important is for everyone to know how they contribute to the customer’s experience. Some employees interact directly with the customer. They help drive customer service, which as mentioned, is a big part of the customer experience. And while some employees don’t have any interaction, what they do behind the scenes impacts the customer’s experience. It is important for every employee to know the role they play in this and how the way someone organizes your shelves and sundries is just as important as the initial greeting and project help.

All of this is leading to the concept of your brand and its reputation. I recently had a chance to sit down with Brian Chaput, the director of Offering Management at IBM, and he made a statement that summarizes all of this. “Your brand is the sum of all your customer interactions.” In just ten words he nailed it! That’s experience and service, all rolled up into one. The outcome is the perception of your brand’s reputation—and everyone has a supporting role in that perception. Everyone has some impact, in some way, on the customer’s experience.

So, does everyone in your organization know how they fit into this experience? Are they on the front line, delivering service directly to the customer? Are they behind the scenes, doing something that impacts that experience? There is customer service and then there is customer experience. Sometimes they are the same, and sometimes they aren’t. To the customer, it doesn’t matter.

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert and best-selling business author. For more information visit hyken.com. ©MMXVII Shep Hyken.