Moving from Customer Service to Customer Experience

David Lazarenko

T The terms “customer service” and “customer experience” are often used interchangeably, and while they are related, they are not the same thing. To best understand the shift that a lot of businesses are making from customer service to customer experience, it’s critical to know how these two seemingly identical concepts are quite different.

Let’s start with their definitions:

Customer service is the support you offer your customers — both before and after they buy and use your products or services. The service helps them have an easy and enjoyable experience with you.

Customer experience is the totality of cognitive, affective, sensory and behavioral consumer responses during all stages of the consumption process, including pre-purchase, consumption and post-purchase stages.

What we learn from these definitions is that customer service and customer experience differ in three critical ways:

  1. Customer service is only a single facet of a customer’s overall experience.
  2. Customer service can positively or negatively affect customer experience.
  3. Customer service, even if positive, does not directly equate to an overall positive customer experience.

In this regard, one can see why many outside of ag, and some inside of ag, have started to shift to the more holistic approach of planning, designing and managing customer experiences instead of just customer service.

Furthermore, with this shift, we see ag organizations embracing new models and philosophies that nearly everyone can benefit from adopting. Key amongst these are:

Touchpoint Theory

As the definition for customer experience would suggest, a consumer’s overall experience is the sum of many touchpoints with any given company (some large, some small, some physical, some intangible, some positive, some negative). Not all of these touchpoints are equal, as some carry more weight towards a customer’s overall experience than others. The goal is to understand what these touchpoints are and how they affect a customer’s overall experience so that a positive experience can be created and replicated.

Customer Experience Benchmarking

This is a model for setting and protecting a standard level of experience for key touchpoints defined as most important by the customer. For example, the goal of customer experience benchmarking would be to identify the positive experiences your best, most satisfied customers had with key touchpoints so that you can replicate these positive experiences for all customers.

Customer Experience Differentiation/Design

This goes one step beyond benchmarking by identifying and creating positive customer experience touchpoints then designing them in a differentiated manner that aligns with your brand. An excellent example of this difference is the ashtrays and smoking areas at Disney resorts. Touchpoint theory would suggest that clean ashtrays and smoking areas are part of the customer experience for smokers visiting these resorts. Customer experience benchmarking would then dictate that smoking areas should be cleaned regularly to ensure a positive baseline experience for all smokers. Customer experience differentiation/design takes this a step further. Disney ashtrays have the resort insignia on them, and the smoking areas are disinfected with specific scents to deliver a more meaningful, memorable and on-brand positive experience.

About the Writer:

David Lazarenko – Chief Growth Officer

David has spent more than 20 years leading strategy and marketing efforts in agri-business. As Chief Growth Officer at Think Shift, he has led successful brand and product launches, re-branding and brand alignment initiatives, sales campaigns, and corporate responsibility campaigns for some of agriculture’s most successful corporations, including ADAMA, Bayer, Cargill, Monsanto, Trimble Agriculture and Westeel. David’s commitment to agriculture and thought leadership in marketing was recognized with his award as the Canadian Agri-Marketing Association’s 2018 Agri-Marketer of the Year.


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