What does customer experience mean?
Companies of all sizes across all industries have been hearing a lot about customer experience (CX) and how it can help them scale their growth by creating a competitive differentiator within their market. But what does customer experience mean?
Let’s start with what it’s not. Customer experience is not the same thing as customer service.
Customer service helps customers answer a specific question or resolve a distinct issue. Examples of customer service include helping a customer find the mayonnaise on aisle seven of your grocery store, confirming the dimensions of a dresser before the customer purchases online, or helping a customer locate the license key for a recently downloaded piece of software. Customer service is reactive, kicking in when a customer needs something and asks for help, and it focuses on resolving one problem at a time.
In comparison, customer experience is how a customer feels about your organization based on their ever-growing interactions with your organization. Unlike customer service, customer experience can and should be proactive. And it should consider the entire journey from the first time the customer discovered your brand to their most recent purchase.
The two aspects of customer experience
Based on the above explanation of what customer experience means, there are two factors that shape it: interactions and perceptions.
Customer interactions are the collection of experiences a customer has at key touchpoints throughout the buyer’s journey like walking into your store, searching for a product on your website, downloading an app, or getting an answer from a customer service representative through live chat.
A customer’s perception is how they feel about your brand after each interaction. Are they surprised and delighted, frustrated, confused, or feeling some other emotion?
So customer experience means how a customer feels about your company based upon the interactions he or she has over the course of the relationship with your brand. And to successfully design and implement fantastic customer experiences, you must certainly map the buyer journey and document key touchpoints. But it is equally important to fully understand the customer’s perception.
Building great customer experiences
Because a customer’s perception of your organization is based on a collective set of experiences, it’s important that each touchpoint is a positive interaction. Otherwise, subpar interactions can greatly diminish a customer’s perception of your brand.
Consider this example: you’re enjoying a fabulous dinner at a new restaurant with your significant other. The menu is creative, the service is outstanding, and the meal is deliciously prepared. But when you use the restroom, it’s filthy and the soap dispenser is empty. That one negative interaction could prevent you from ever returning for another meal.