What’s the Difference Between Customer Service and Customer Experience?
There’s a new-to-you term you’ve been hearing a lot lately — customer experience — but you aren’t quite sure exactly what it is. Sure, you get the overall idea of what it means, but what really differentiates customer experience (CX) from customer service (CS)?
As a loan officer, you want happy customers, because clients who liked working with you will lead to referrals. (And who doesn’t love those?!). It’s important to make sure your customers are treated well throughout their loan process so you don’t have to deal with any customer complaints along the way, which can hold up or completely mess up a transaction.
So is that what the difference is between CX and CS? Is it that one makes a client happy and the other takes care of them when they aren’t? Not quite.
Here’s a guide that will help you understand the importance of both customer service and customer experience, as well as the major difference between the two.
What Is Customer Service?
Let’s start with the term you’re likely most familiar with. Customer service is a vital part of any company. It’s in this function that clients can go to get their questions answered, to report and get a resolution for any problem that may arise, and one area that builds (or breaks) brand perception.
Here are two examples:
1- A first-time homebuyer calls you with a mile-long list of questions about the mortgage process. You spend 45 minutes on the phone with her answering all her questions, and she immediately completes the necessary paperwork to secure her loan with your company.
2- Your company loses a few hand-signed documents in the middle of processing a mortgage and a client needs to come back in person to sign them. Now, it might not seem like a big inconvenience to you, but the client returns furious. They just needed to use their earned leave to cover the two hours they took out of work, and they’ll need to pay for after-school care for their children because no one will be home to greet the bus. All because someone in your organization misplaced their documents.
Both scenarios are an example of customer service, with different outcomes. The first client had a positive experience, which led to them choosing your company as their loan processor. The second client had a negative experience, making them unlikely to refer you to the people in their network.
What Is Customer Experience?
Now that you can see how those clients experienced working with your organization, let’s talk about CX as a whole. While customer service meets clients at one touchpoint, customer experience is the sum of all interactions between the client and the business in all touch points. It’s not just one situation they come across; it’s the entire process of working together, before they meet you and after the loan closes.
Here’s an example of customer experience from start to finish using the individual in the first scenario above. This client, let’s call her Monique, is actively looking for homes. She’s financially secure, and a qualified candidate for a loan.
Monique’s been learning about mortgages online. She’s stalked your company’s website, as well as your competitors, and she’s impressed that you offer a chat function through the website, and that your mortgage process and rates are both visible and easy to understand. But, she hasn’t decided between your company and a competitor. She calls you first because the website has easy-to-access telephone numbers near each loan officer’s photo and bio, and you go out of your way to answer the long list of questions she has. Not only that, but you’ve emailed her a guide on first-time home buying, and directed her as to where she can complete the application before getting off the phone
The application is easy for her to complete. After you’ve received it, an automated response gets sent to Monique’s email letting her know it’s been received, informing her of the next steps, and giving her access to the secure, private portal where all of her documents can be uploaded, so she can get started immediately sharing the additional documents you need. This portal also clearly states all of your contact information in case she has a question, and has a status section which shows her which part of the process she’s currently in. There are no hiccups, and Monique is able to close on time and as an informed, happy client. Then, a week later, she receives a personalized thank you letter for doing business with you.
Customer experience covers that entire process: the education of a prospect with the website content, the phone conversation, the digital portal and ease of use, the status center…all of these touch points make up the experience a client has while working with you.
How Do CS and CX Coexist?
As you can see from the examples in this post, customer service is just one touchpoint of a prospect or client’s journey. Customer experience is the journey as a whole. It is the sum of all interactions, be it training, marketing, sales, customer service, or any other way a prospect or client can connect with you. Customer service is a vital part of the client experience, but it’s simply just one access point.
Want strong brand recognition? Care that audience recognition is a positive one? Then invest in both CS and CX as a whole and your prospects and clients will be better satisfied, making them more likely to speak kindly about your company to their personal and professional networks.