In the great melting pot of human interactions in business, we cannot simply not consider what really makes some difference nowadays: a fantastic customer experience with the addition of excellent customer service and customer care.
Customer Experience, Customer Service & Customer Care
If you think that good value and quality are the things that make you stand out from the crowd, think twice, the game is played on another kind of level and not being prepared is not the best idea. What do we mean with customer experience, customer service and customer care though?
The customer experience is the whole interaction journey a client makes with a brand and it is made of all those emotional and psychological aspects which build up expectations, values and reputation. Customer service usually comes in when the client’s expectations have not been fully satisfied and we go the extra mile to solve a problem that might affect the ongoing engagement along with the customer experience.
For instance, during a hotel stay, the customer experience will be your whole experience as a guest which will make you give a positive or negative connotation to the property. The customer service provided might be the rapidity of the cleaning service after you ask for it, while customer care might be a thoughtful gesture, like leaving a chocolate praline on your pillow to wish you a good stay.
We’re all very familiar with tools like Tripadvisor and Google reviews and we also know feedbacks can be very tricky, especially when they’re publicly published. As a matter of fact, reviews are often written without valid reasons or even worse to discredit a brand or a person connected to a brand. Even though a brand has always taken the high road when it comes to face the whole world of the web we need to consider every possible aspect, including jealousy and bad manners. But how can we fight this? That’s right, we can’t predict every bump on the road, but what we can do is to identify some guidelines that will come and rescue us in times of need. The ideal solution would be to have a designated person (or team) whose job is to manage feedbacks and nurture public relations, always showing politeness and kindness.
In The Toolbox
Do you remember Clippy? Yep, the annoying paper clip-shaped Microsoft Word assistant that used to wait for you to press any button before offering unsolicited advice for the whole time you spent on the document. Well, Clippy is a good example of automated hybrid between customer service and customer care, a sort of forerunner of modern chatbot tools where you can not only ask for assistance but ask for general information as well. Chatbots will never be able to replace a real human assistant (even if sometimes talking to people who act like robots can be even more frustrating), but they can be very useful when dealing with high traffic volume. In a similar way,
FAQs are a great tool if you need to respond quickly to popular questions. Even if most of the time the information explained in the FAQs is already contained in the Terms & Conditions section, don’t be afraid to repeat it: it’s better to state something twice rather than having a potential customer leave your website because they can’t find what they’re looking for. A UX-designed website must guide even the laziest user that will not have enough reasons to read your legal sections closely.
Last but not least, among the most popular customer service and customer care tools we need to mention contact forms. Now, this is an incredibly simple way to let people get in touch, but it is also where you can actually spot the differences between great and crappy service. How many times have you filled a contact form and never got a response? And how many times you phone the company you were trying to reach and they come up with crazy excuses? Well, the good news is 99% of the time your devices work perfectly. The bad is news is companies tend to put out there malfunctioning tools that only affect customer journey in a bad way.
Clippy, the unforgettable Microsoft Word assistant
Welcome to 2021, can I DM you on Instagram? If the answer to this question is “no”, then congratulations, you may have lost a potential customer. Nowadays people expect to find support and answers on your official website as well as on social media platforms. It is not good for a brand to have a page on Facebook and never respond when a question is made.
A fantastic example of customer service and customer care through social media comes from airlines that often have a dedicated team on Twitter helping people quickly and smoothly. Even if you’re not familiar with the issues you might encounter when changing a flight or asking for a refund, you might imagine how hard it can be to get in touch with such huge companies that could never publish an email address to write to.
On the other hand, there are companies, like Facebook, that don’t allow people to get in touch at all (unless you own a business account), which is quite funny considering they are a social platform encouraging other companies to engage with their audience at all times. When on social media, be aware of the public comments people leave on your posts: never fight fire with fire, fair play must always be your ultimate goal.