If you were to think back to the last time you had really great service and experience from a business, you’ll remember the way it made you feel – happy, satisfied and maybe even delighted.
What about the last time you had a bad customer experience? The memory probably reignites the anger, frustration or other negative emotions you felt at the time.
This is exactly why it’s important for companies to offer an excellent customer service and experience. People remember the great experiences and they remember the bad. They hardly think about those in the middle.
It’s not just about offering great customer service and experience, however. Customer expectations are constantly evolving and the market is always changing so it’s vital you keep up with this. You need to continuously improve your customer service so your audience will always be getting the experience they’re after. That way, you can encourage loyalty and repeat purchases, existing customers to recommend you to others so you’ll attract new business and so on. It’s a continuous cycle.
There are many things to consider in your path to building the ideal customer service and experience, from the steps to take, to the tools and technology you should adopt. That’s why we’ve created this one-stop resource, so you can learn about all things customer service and experience. Ready to get started? Just keep scrolling.
The words ‘customer service’ and ‘customer experience’ are often used interchangeably but the truth is, they’re not the same thing (just closely related).
Customer service is the assistance you can give to your customers. The goal is to satisfy your customers and that usually means ensuring their questions are answered and they find what they’re looking for. For example, helping a customer choose the right product or service before purchase or advising how best to use the product/service.
Customer experience is the total journey of a customer’s interactions with a company. It’s the sum of all the touchpoints your customers have with your brand, from discovering it for the first time and browsing your site to purchasing the product/service and actually trying it then any aftercare support that may follow.
The short story? Customer service focuses on human interaction – ensuring your customers are supported, their needs fulfilled and wishes granted. This then leads to customer experience, which is the impression of your business that you leave with the customer across all stages of their journey with you.
The better the customer service you can provide, the happier your customers will be and the better the experience they’ll have with your company overall.
We mentioned earlier that customer expectations are always changing. It’s important to at least meet your customers’ expectations (but exceed them as much as you can), otherwise they’ll dump you in favour of a competitor.
Technology is a major force behind these changing expectations. Customers have always wanted to be treated as though they’re special by companies and for their questions or problems to be resolved. Before social media and smartphones, people may have been more willing to wait for a customer service team to get back to them.
Nowadays, they want responses instantly, support while they’re making a purchase (whether it’s via live chat, over the phone or a chatbot) and more.
Here are some more interesting statistics:
What do these statistics suggest? It means always remembering that your brand and the way your customers perceive it is extremely vital. Every touchpoint your customers have with your company, from the website to speaking to one of your sales team, needs to show that they’ll be treated with care and as that they’re special.
You need to show your potential customer that your company and its products/services are worth buying. Providing your sales teams with the information they need to satisfy customers is the first step. For instance, ensuring notes on customers are up-to-date so if a new salesperson takes over, the customer doesn’t have to answer the same questions again. Instead, the switchover is seamless.
In industries such as discrete manufacturing, a secret to excellent customer service is embracing both core service support and field service. While aspects like an efficient production process, high product quality and delivery are important, it’s also about offering your customers an attractive service package. One that supports your customers and takes on a proactive approach, rather than a break/fix model.
We discuss this in more detail in our blog on what customers expect from discrete manufacturers.
Remember when we discussed the definitions of customer service and customer experience in the first section of this resource? Customer service is about advising and assisting your customers, with the end goal of satisfying them. Customer experience is the overall impression customers have of your company after all the interactions they had with you.
So, excellent customer service means (and this list isn’t exhaustive):
And all of this leads to good customer experience. A great customer service (along with an excellent product/service), positively impacts your customers’ perception of you and their decision to return to you in the future and recommend you to others.
It’s also vital that your customer service is consistent, no matter the situation. Your company could be in the midst of a cybersecurity disaster, there could be a pandemic going on or your best customer service staff might be on holiday. Whatever the situation, you need to put your customers’ needs first. Read here for tips on how to improve your customer service during a crisis.
Watch the video below to understand how you can create excellent customer service and get some ideas to improve customer experience. Notice how automatic notifications and connected systems keep teams across the business informed about customer orders and preferences? We’ll get to that later in this resource.
How do you ensure a unique and memorable customer experience? Here are some tips to ensure you offer a fantastic customer service.
Knowing the journey that your customers take when they interact with your brand is important. When you have a customer journey map, you can put your customers at the centre of the story and so, prioritise their experience over how you want your brand to come across.
Basically, know what your customers want to experience and ensure they get that.
A typical customer journey is as follows:
Awareness > Consideration > Purchase > Service > Loyalty.
But keep in mind that not every customer will come in at ‘Awareness’. Some may be in ‘Consideration’ while others could be ready to ‘Purchase’ as soon as they arrive. And they can easily jump stages too, depending on the quality of your service and experience. Give them great customer service and overall experience, and they may just jump straight to’ Loyalty’.
We’ve covered this concept of customer journey maps and how to do create one in more depth here.
Manufacturers are usually behind when it comes to customer engagement technology because they’ve been focusing on their ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) projects for years. However, most are now in good shape, ERP-wise, so have started looking to other areas of the business – such as customer engagement. Here are three great examples to take inspiration from.
Read about these stories in more detail (complete with videos and case studies you can download) here.
To succeed in your journey towards a continuously improved customer service and experience, you need to find and invest in the right tech.
The key ingredients to flawless customer service and experience:
Download our guide to Dynamics 365 Customer Service to find out more on how the platform can empower your staff, create a personalised service and unify technology to consistently provide exceptional customer experiences.
Thanks to technological advances, the sales process can now be largely automated, from online ads to purchase and even delivery. However, the more complex processes still require that human element. Here are some of the features to look out for in your sales solution if you’ve got a complex process and need people involved.
Read more about the features of the Microsoft Dynamics Customer Engagement platform and how it can support sales teams here. And if you’d like to find out more on what the experts say on how Microsoft compares to the other CRM/sales force automation solutions, check out this blog.
One of the steps to increasing your customer revenue is to get the most out of your CRM software. An integrated CRM (which stands for Customer Relationship Management) solution can track and build the interaction histories of your customers. You can then personalise your interaction with that customer, whether it’s how your support team addresses them or during marketing campaign planning.
The best CRM can also:
Here’s more on how Microsoft Dynamics 365 can help you improve your customer service. One more awesome benefit of the Dynamics CRM platform? You can easily customise your dashboards so your teams can see the data and tools they need to. See how to customise your D365 CRM views here.
TIP: It’s not enough to choose a great CRM platform, like Microsoft Dynamics 365. You need ensure your CRM data is kept clean so you can spend less time looking for information and more time making informed decisions. We’ve got a helpful step-by-step blog that can help which you can read here.
Rolling out and integrating field service into your business model can boost your overall customer satisfaction. Here are four ways field service can be integrated within your business.
We’ve got a blog post that covers these ways in more depth. Check it out here.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 can help support your field service workforce in many ways, including:
Take a look at our blog post on how Microsoft Dynamics 365 can support field service engineers to optimise operations if you’d like to read more.
Having a great field service offering in place can do wonders but if you truly want to improve customer retention, you’ll need to think your model. This is especially the case for the manufacturing sector – the traditional field service model of reactively replacing or repairing products doesn’t apply here.
It’s time to start considering a new approach, such as a smart field service model. Our checklist covers the steps you should take. Check it out here.
No, but it will help. A digital business consultancy will have years of experience and a team of experts who are ready to dedicate their time to helping you.
Whether you’re wondering how a particular solution might fit in with the rest of your organisation or you want to undergo an implementation project, a consultancy can offer invaluable support. Without a consultancy, your team will have to shoulder the time and effort – which could be spent on other critical business tasks.
Or, you may not have the manpower and expertise. It’s not worth only going halfway when it comes to business improvement projects. It needs to be done properly and a consultancy has that manpower and expertise you require. Their team of experts will be available to offer support throughout the implementation and even after.
Here are some of the questions you should be asking when you’re looking for and picking the right digital business consultancy to partner with.
At Columbus, we’ve been helping companies digitally transform, maximise their assets and futureproof their business models for over 30 years. We’ve been working with thousands of companies worldwide and across a range of industries, such as retail and distribution, manufacturing, food and beverage, and equipment rental and leasing.
So, we’ve seen what works and what doesn’t.
We can help businesses like yours:
For more information about what we do and how we can help, get in touch with us today.