Monday, November 24, 2014

Customer Service vs. Customer Experience vs. Customer Success

Customer service is reactive, customer experience is interactive and customer success in proactive.

In traditional organizations, customer service is only one function’s work; being customer-centric means from strategic making to execution, customer is the focal point from cross-functional perspective, and customer delight also moves from customer service to customer experience and customer success.

Customer service is reactive, customer experience is interactive and customer success in proactive. Customer Service is reactive, available when customers need it, in the channel when customers want it. Customer experience needs to be interactive, to delight customer in every touch point. Customer Success is proactive, identifying ways to help customers gain value from the product or service you provide. Customer Experience is the broad umbrella that you deliver from purchase throughout the full "journey". Customers need all of these areas to be a focus of the business if you want them to continue to buy and recommend your products/services to others. There is a distinction between reactive (Customer Service) and Proactive (Customer Success). Together it defines the Customer Experience (interactive).

The focus on customer success is the key, as it changes your way of thinking (from reactive to proactive) - how do you make the customer successful, using the service, platform etc. Customer success says a lot more than just customer service. There's an expectation of more than just service now, but for future as well. It is clear that customers do not make the distinction between service, experience nor success. They want to feel confident that they get what they pay for with a commensurate level of purchase fulfillment and that the interaction with the supplier is pleasant and at times exceptional when things go wrong. They enjoy the whole end-to-end experience. Being proactive also implies that functions within an organization need to look at upstream functions and call out any actions that result in a poor customer experience within one’s own function. For example, with long call waits, the reactive method would be for the call center to augment staff, reduce call duration etc. The proactive method would be to understand the call drivers and address that with the relevant functions.

Four focus areas in Customer Success: Customer Service is primarily reactive. There are instances where it would be advantages to get in front of a major change to a product or service and you might want your Customer Service team to proactively reach out to your customer base. But by and large their work is mostly transactional and reactive. So the proactive nature of Customer Success clearly separates the two disciplines. There are four focus areas in Customer Success: (1) leading the adoption efforts of your product and service offerings. (2) driven to increase product and service expansion into other areas as a trusted adviser 3) having a focus on renewals and churn 4) capturing a customer's success criteria and delivering results.

Using Data and Feedback a company can show agility in providing what the customer is looking for in products and services. If done well this leads to a customer success. When the customer has a question or issue with the product/service/information provided; dealing with this well is what makes good customer service. The Customer's experience could be defined as how well did the company measure up to the customer's expectations. Did you deliver on the promised quality of the product/service +/- the quality of the staff/systems the customer dealt with? Customer Success is a fast and evolving role and there isn't a clear and consistent way companies deploy their various service elements. Organizations are now experiencing a learning curve as it relates to Customer Success. Some basic tenets that need to be considered:
(1). Know your customer
(2). Value your customer's time
(3). Own the customer's problem or issue. Provide relief as quickly as possible.
(4). Think of the customer even when they don't call you.

Loyal customers expect, and deserve more than just 'service' - their interest and thus success, lies in achieving their objectives consistently. However, without a thoughtful approach, the mode of work, and the business model, establishing a scalable Customer Success organization can be a painful path. Done well, an organization gets out of break-fix mode and leverages strategic resources to proactively build a truly customer-centric business.


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