Customer service and customer experience are often used interchangeably in many business journals. Serving customers creates the experience of the brand and therefore customer experience is customer service, but this is wrong and in the present complex environment it is short-sighted.
Recent KPMG research published in Econsultancy indicated that the travel industry is one of the leading areas in using the customer experience as a key differentiator. Improving the experience is a strategic priority for travel companies such as airlines, hotels, and cruise operators because travel is experiential – we know the difference between a full-service and budget airline, or an economy seat at the back of the plane and a first class flatbed at the front. The same plane gets the traveller to the same destination, but with a very different experience of the brand.
Research demonstrates that travel brands interacting personally with customers see around a 40% increase in spend from those customers. Personal interactions create a connection and this creates increased loyalty.
Virgin Holidays has found that by discarding the old image of a travel agent, they have dramatically increased their high street business. Conventional wisdom suggests that the high street travel agent should already have died out, thanks to the Internet. But, Virgin Holidays has found that by recreating the feeling of being inside an airport departure lounge they can make the process of booking a holiday become a part of the holiday itself.
Almost every airline is now offering very specific travel information on services & delays with apps and by supplying Google with flight information. Travellers can locate their flight and get news on delays in a way that was unthinkable just a few years ago, transforming the entire travel experience.
All this demonstrates that the process of how the customer experiences the brand, from learning about a service to using it, is far more important than just planning the customer service channel itself.
How a customer interacts with a brand is now far more important than just how they call for information or help. Planning for a smooth experience all the way through the customer journey naturally improves customer service, regardless of the interaction channel chosen by the customer. What are your thoughts on customer experience versus customer service? Are they interchangeable? Leave a comment below, or get in touch on LinkedIn.