Customer Service Is Part Of The Customer Experience And Vice Versa

For the first time in 5 years, I’m not on the marketing side of the business. I’m now on the customer service and customer experience side of the business. (Marketing and Customer Service should be on the same side but that’s a story for a topic for another article).

I’m still a marketer at heart. Marketing will always be engraved in my DNA but now I’m able to leverage my marketing experience to connect with the customer in a different way and requires a different mentality. Before, my job was to connect with the customer in order to gain their business. Now I’m connecting with the customer to keep them engaged, satisfied, and to retain them as a customer.

I’ve always been intrigued with customer service and customer experience. This probably comes from my years as server and working in retail. As a marketer, one question I always asked myself was how can we improve the customer experience. How can we make the marketing funnel more streamlined and more educational? As a digital marketer specifically, I always looked for ways to leverage digital platforms, whether it’s social, web, or mobile, to not only be a better marketer but to also provide a better customer experience.

As I embarked on this new stage of my career as Director of Social Media Customer Service, one of the first questions I asked myself, and then discussed with my manager, was whether we are responsible for customer service or customer experience? A follow up question was if we’re responsible for both and if so, which is a higher priority? We had a great discussion about the differences in the two and what area my role fits into more. As a result, the initial title of this article was “What comes first — the service or experience?” I was going to write an article analyzing the differences in customer service and customer experience.

I started writing and thought to myself, I’m attempting to create a dividing line between two practices that are conjoined. You cannot have the service without the experience and you cannot have the experience without the service.

In my new role, I’m lucky enough to be able to build the social media customer service department for a large financial institution. I was brought on to build a framework for social customer service in an effort to tame the ever growing influx of inquiries and complaints being received on social media. That’s the first priority but…

The deeper I go the more I realize that for me to build an effective team, I cannot focus only on customer service, or solving immediate needs that arise, and put the experience to the side. I also can’t focus on the experiential components and ignore customer’s immediate needs.

Service and experience go hand in hand. To improve customer service I need to improve the customer experience and vice versa.

Isn’t it true that when you call a customer service department or are sending a tweet complaining to the company, you’re in essence a customer experiencing an interaction with the company? Too many times we think of the customer experience as in-store or as the customer is purchasing and using the product or service. We forget that customer service is part of the customer experience. Both customer service and customer experience continue long after the initial transaction happens.

As I move forward, I will find ways to both enhance the customer service AND the customer experience. I won’t be making the mistake of trying to separate the two from now on.