Since the definition of customer experience seems challenging still and so many businesses only are starting out on improving their version of it, we want to talk about it today. Customer service is only a small part of it and there is most likely room for improvement in your business, too. We know we have quite a bit of work to do here still and the feedback box should never close, so let’s dive into the definitions of customer and consumer, customer service, and finally customer experience, also called CX. Once you understand the bigger picture, you’ll have a chance to skyrocket the profitability of your business, because people love familiar as long as it works, delights and is trustworthy.
1. Defining Customer And Consumer
Anyone knows what a customer means, right? Maybe. Since we are here to teach business to (wannabe) entrepreneurs, the spontaneous thought coming to mind should start to include all variants of a customer as per today. Let’s walk through them now!
First you probably think of an individual as a customer, and in that case the process of money and products or services exchanging owner usually is business-to-consumer or B2C.
In other words, your spontaneous thought probably went to the consumer, an individual who buys a product or service.
Then we also have businesses as customers, with the interaction being business-to-business or B2B.
A side note to this is taxation. Do you know how to sell either in person or on your website to business customers? It’s not seldom that I have encountered slight problems when seemingly buying as an individual, but at checkout in an online shop presenting the VAT number of my sole proprietorship. Typically, it’s happened when I’ve bought fabric fo my quilting projects and indeed this product type is perceived to be consumer goods in small quantities. But a sole proprietor working on hobby level to begin with isn’t in need of large quantities. Actionable conclusion: think of this possibly small segment and how you might serve it with clarity and a welcoming attitude instead of oozing annoyance in your response. In a web shop, add a field on your shopping-cart page to provide a VAT number.
Moving on to C2C. Ever heard of consumer-to-consumer, also called customer-to-customer? It refers to a business transaction between two consumers and many of us have participated on flea markets or their counterparts, the Facebook market groups. The transactions can also be facilitated by a business such as eBay running a website for commerce.
Finally, an enterprise might serve government only, in which case the sales process is called business-to-government or B2G. You might have an idea, which doesn’t make any sense to put to fruition unless it serves your country as a whole, either directly or through the bureaucratic machinery. Admittedly, we have no experience of this, so besides mentioning the option here, we encourage you to find other, more helpful sources next!
Our pet peeve ‘You need to niche down!’ is such for a good reason, because there are numerous business models out there. And whether you achieve your vision is dependant on choosing the right one for you. Serving a niche market often involves selling to consumers, but maybe this isn’t relevant to you.
Then again, those who publish six-figure income statements in the blogosphere often serve other businesses (entrepreneurs, freelancers, etc.,) not consumers. Before you try to implement their B2B sales tactics and other teachings in your B2C enterprise, analyse and tread carefully. And don’t get stuck in a financial comparison loop, because what potentially generates big money in B2B might never be as effective in B2C.
2. Defining Customer Service
So what is customer service? It’s the direct interaction a customer has with any person working for a brand. It can happen in person or via telephone, email, or chat on a website, but the common denominator is a human element and it extends to post-sale interaction as well, not only the transaction situation with a sales person.
Remember that a vast majority is still unaccustomed to interacting with robots. A chat bot, while perhaps not working optimally in an automated part of customer service, often fails to deliver on expectations. We tend to perceive the task as something a human should provide us with, so employ these (ro)bots with great care. There are few things as frustrating in a crisis as being jumped from menu to the next, but not receiving any help.
Notice how it says ‘any person working for a brand’ above. This includes an outsourced customer-service department in a part of the world where salaries are lower. They need to be seamlessly integrated to your brand, but are they? Have they assimilated your vision, mission and values thanks to your efforts?
But there’s more to customer experience than just customer service, so let’s discuss it now.
3. Defining Customer Experience
We are finally ready to tackle customer experience! Customer service of high quality certainly is a central part of a fantastic customer experience, but it doesn’t end there.
You have a chance to turn a customer into a loyal repeat buyer by making sure all touchpoints they have with your brand are to their complete satisfaction.
Touchpoint? It’s all the ways in which a customer interacts with your brand both before, during and after a sale.
While customer service is about the direct interaction with a representative of your business, customer experience happens anywhere, both offline and online.
It’s in automated email sequences as part of sales funnels, targeted ads in social media, active engagement with your content on social-media profiles, website pages, in-person sales situations, when reading a delivery confirmation via email, opening a parcel from your online shop, or paying a bill via a third-party service.
All these touchpoints influence a customer’s perception of your business and if only one misses the beat even a little bit, it can be enough for them to take their money elsewhere.
It’s advisable to step into the shoes of a customer in any and all places, observe as neutrally as you can various processes, taking notes to fix possible issues, and perhaps ask a friend to do the same. Sign up for your own newsletter!
Your own shopping experiences are a great resource for ideas, too, and if you think you might have missed something, spend some time on your competitors’ websites. What are they doing better? Where are your strengths? Tip: read our Customer Service When An Online Order Goes Missing for hints of a really bad experience!
Did you know these meanings of customer versus consumer, customer service, customer journey touchpoint and customer experience already? Many are familiar with the expressions B2B and B2C, but C2C was news to us. Have you created a customer journey map yet or at least spent some time thinking about CX in your own business? How did it go?
Photo credit: You X Ventures.