Quite often, the terms customer experience and customer service are used interchangeably. While they are related, they are not the same thing. In fact, customer service is just one of the many interactions that influence the overall customer experience. By developing a deeper understanding of the differences between the customer experience and customer service, companies will be empowered to delight their customers, improve customer retention, increase revenue, and ultimately maximize their ROI. Let’s dive into what defines customer experience and customer service, and the key differences between the two.
What is the Customer Experience?
The customer experience refers to how a customer perceives the sum total of their interactions with your company. In the field service industry, this sum consists of individual interactions that range from installation, requesting maintenance, scheduling service, on-site field worker interaction, payment, and the consequent follow-up. In general, the customer experience is comprised of three main components:
- Customer Service: This involves the ways in which customers interact with and receive assistance from your company, including both customer support calls and even self-service support.
- Technology: This encompasses the products and services that your company provides to customers, and specifically how they interact with this technology.
- Design: This relates to your company’s branding, such as the marketing, design, and alignment of services that your company facilitates for the customer.
These three aspects can look distinctly different in various organizations and industries. For field service organizations, there is an emphasis on providing customers with field service management software that boasts an intuitive user interface that enables self-service features in a branded customer portal. This provides customers with easy access to support and the ability to interact with your company on their own terms, all with consistent branding and messaging. Now, let’s take a deeper look at the first aspect of the customer experience: customer service.
What is Customer Service?
Customer service is defined as the assistance that your company provides your customers. Providing good customer service requires your customer-facing team, such as field technicians and support, to represent your company in a positive light via pleasant interactions and conversations. Elements that make a positive customer service interaction include patience, deep knowledge of your products and services, and the ability to make customers feel heard and respected.
Key Differences of Customer Experience vs Customer Service
The main difference between the customer experience and customer service is that the customer experience involves the entire customer journey, whereas customer service is just one aspect of that journey. This means that customer service has the potential to influence the outcome of the overall customer experience, both for better or worse. For instance, companies can smooth over bumpy service situations with pleasant interactions or improved assistance, while they can also accidentally infuse friction into the customer experience when assistance goes awry and a customer does not feel heard.
Likewise, providing comprehensive customer service training for customer-facing positions, such as field technicians and customer support, is a significant way that companies can ensure they provide both positive customer service and a positive customer experience.
Since the customer experience is the overarching sum of interactions with your company and is ultimately the most important way to improve customer retention and maximize revenue and time to ROI, let’s look at 6 tips to improve your customer experience.
6 Tips to Improve Your Customer Experience
1. Invest in Field Service Management Software
Consistently one of the top field service trends in the last several years, it’s no secret that AI-driven field service management software is the number one way to improve your customer experience. Among many advantages to manual systems, intelligent field service software helps companies automate complex scheduling and dispatching, provide visibility into inventory and work order management, enable field techs to access real-time data on the go, and last but not least, empower customers to take control of their own experience with a self-service customer portal.
With 88% of customers expecting brands to provide a self-service customer portal, this is an easy win to give your customers what they want. Moreover, by providing your field techs with an advanced and intuitive field service app, they will be able to complete more jobs on their first try, and also be happier working with your company. Since technicians are customer-facing, keeping them happy with your company is an often overlooked aspect of customer service that ultimately influences a positive and profitable customer experience.
Cutting-edge field service management software also has numerous features that allow less-experienced technicians to provide high-quality service, such as remote support and Augmented Reality capabilities. This allows companies to combat technician shortages caused by the graying workforce, opening the field to less-experienced technicians and completing more jobs without lowering service expectations.
2. Utilize Mobile Customer Surveys
At the end of the day, the customer experience is a subjective experience that the customer feels. In order to truly understand how your customer experience is being perceived, you need to start by asking your customers. Collecting this feedback is critical to improving your customer experience because you simply can’t fix something well when you don’t know what’s broken. Sadly this is an often overlooked aspect of the customer experience, with companies making assumptions about what is working and what’s not.
Instead of guessing about something as important as your customer experience, utilize mobile customer surveys that enable data-driven decision-making. Intelligent field service management software allows you to create custom mobile surveys that ask customers a variety of questions regarding their experience with your company. Sample questions include:
- "Do you feel your problem was solved?"
- "How was your customer experience?”
- “How likely are you to use our service again?”
- “Do you have any comments or suggestions for us?”
By collecting and analyzing this customer survey data, you can identify pain points in your customer experience and make informed decisions on how to better serve your customers.3. Listen to the People in the Field
Just as customers are integral to understanding your customer experience, so are the customer-facing workers interacting with them in the field. Seeing as these individuals are a large part of the customer experience, they are going to be much more familiar with the daily pain points of the customer experience than someone working in the office. It’s advisable to encourage field service personnel and customer service staff to weigh in on what customers are saying and experiencing. Customer-facing employees can provide valuable insight into the most critical of customer interactions. The data field service technicians provide about the customer service interaction can inform an FSO on how to improve the customer experience and make them feel valued within the organization—helping to attract and retain the best technicians in a competitive labor market.
4. Manage Expectations
Customers who contact an FSO often have only one goal, but many expectations that are time-boxed. For instance, if the refrigerator is broken, it needs to be fixed before the milk sours. That means FSOs have to be aware and mindful of their resources and ability when it comes to being responsive and setting expectations. The sooner that open communication about customer service begins, the better the chances for a positive customer experience.
A solution that provides customers, field techs, and customer service representatives with the most up-to-date information at all times will help improve the customer experience greatly. For instance, field service management software with field technician tracking and a customer portal enables customers to check the real-time location of their technicians and even communicate with them directly. By providing visibility into technician arrival times, companies can manage customer expectations automatically. In addition, leveraging IoT-powered predictive maintenance technology can limit the existence of equipment downtime in the first place, allowing technicians to work on customers’ appliances before there is actually a dire need. With this model of servitization, field service companies can provide a proactive and technologically advanced customer experience that delights modern customers.
5. Monitor Social Media & Customer Reviews
The customer relationship with an FSO often begins before they even come in direct contact with an organization, and this can impact their perceptions of both a service call and the overall experience. Ads, online reviews, and social media interactions can create a bias for customers, either positive or negative.
FSOs should closely monitor their reputations and public perception of their organization. Regardless of what they find, it is important to remember that customer service interactions will be critical to repairing negative bias or affirming a solid reputation and creating a positive customer experience.
6. Handle Mistakes with Grace
Mistakes happen. They are one of the few things an FSO can count on. These mistakes are not always the fault of the company, but when something goes wrong, customer experience is often dictated by how a company reacts and tries to solve them. Likewise, mistakes represent a pivotal moment in the customer experience, a moment that relies heavily on creative and attentive customer service.
By listening to the customer’s concern, acknowledging the mistake, and offering a solution to the problem at hand, organizations can show customers that they care about them. Field service management software helps facilitate and streamline this process, allowing customers to easily report an issue in the customer portal, and for organizations to offer additional assistance, discounts, and more all through the app. With this streamlined digital process, customers can have their problems resolved quickly and efficiently, which helps improve the customer experience.
Start Improving Your Customer Experience
Intelligent field service management software is the number one way that field service organizations can start enhancing customer service and refining the customer experience.
ServicePower’s AI-driven field service management software is known for its comprehensive customer portal and in-depth service ecosystem which improve the customer experience and maximize time to ROI.
Explore how ServicePower can help your organization provide an exceptional customer experience with a custom demo.