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Customer Service vs Customer Experience – some reflections

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You do not have to be Albert Einstein to understand the interdependence between a good customer service and good customer experience. Good customer experiences are a must-have for a company aspiring for a good reputation and long-term profitability. Bad customer experiences tend to give you the opposite.

 

Creating good customer experiences is equally important in any industry, be it manufacturing, trade or service, for big companies and small companies alike.

 

Yet it is incredible how often companies fail to understand the importance of good customer experience and how bad customer service impact on the customer experience, and especially in the long term, on the reputation, image and eventually profitability.

 

There is a lot of marketing lip-service about how well we treat our customers and how we deliver as promised, but the reality sometimes looks very different.

 

Why I wrote this in the first place is that I have recently had several bad customer experiences. And unexpectedly, from companies, I had considered being "good companies". All companies I would most warmly have recommended to anyone before this. Now, I don't know anymore. All have agreed to provide a specific service to me. And then nothing! I have contacted them to remind them of this, and yet I am still waiting. With mixed feelings, (because I know these days COVID-19 has the potential to create problems for companies), I try to give these "good" companies the benefit of the doubt – so I am still giving them more time to deliver. However, if I have to wait much longer, they will eventually in my mind turn into "bad" companies. If that happens, I will not use them or recommend them to anyone anymore. Instead, I will caution people from interacting with them. Bad customer experiences always have consequences.

 

Due to my long experience in the Executive Search industry, I also look at this from a recruiting service provider perspective. Taking part in a recruiting process as a candidate is the most personal and sensitive experience.  You take part in perhaps many interviews, where you try your best to give a good impression – checked, monitored, tested by several people, who evaluate if you have got what it takes and if you fit their expectations. It is not at all irrelevant how you feel treated during this process.

 

Becoming the winning candidate in a recruiting process gives a positive customer experience to anyone. But, what about the other finalists, who also did their best, wanted the job but did not make it. What about the candidates who did not even make it to the final. Everyone understands that this is a "competition" and that there can only be one winning candidate. Still, it is natural to feel disappointed not getting something you maybe wanted much. Therefore, it is essential to pay attention to them too getting a good customer experience. It is not as difficult as it may sound. Three things. Firstly: I believe everyone appreciates to be notified soonest possible in the recruiting process when a decision regarding them has been made, one way or another. At best, by phoning them in person, giving them a chance to discuss the matter shortly. Secondly: You can always choose your words, but people expect you to tell the truth behind your decision.  Thirdly: No one understands if all you get is a letter three months later, informing you that "Sorry, we chose a better candidate. Thanks and have a good day." Unfortunately, not a very uncommon practice.

 

We all make mistakes. I too, have made my share of mistakes in my time. If you make a mistake, simply put - if you mess things up, what you do is you call the other party concerned immediately and inform about this. Besides being the only right thing to do, this is how you build trust. This is also called good customer service. Never hold back or try to hide this kind of information. Your "customer" may not like what he/she hears, but I can promise your "customer" appreciates you contacting him/her and usually gives you a second chance without any hard feelings. And then, when you make everything right again, you build even more trust. It is in stormy waters that we are truly tested.

 

I advise everyone to pay attention to their customer experience when interacting with companies and people in general. Some are in it just for money and fame and could not care less about you. And never land a job in a company mistreating you in the recruiting process. Your customer experience is an indication of how they appreciate you – or do not. Of how they appreciate their employees – or do not.


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