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Customer Service & CX Leaders Make the Best Magic TOGETHER

The first week of October is both Customer Service Week and the week of CX Day!

This week of celebrating success through CX and better customer service is an important reminder that we all serve a role in this. But customer service has a special place in the way a customer feels about your brand!

So let’s unpack that a bit…

First, customer service and CX are often used interchangeably. But they’re truly distinct ideas that, when executed well, create meaningful experiences for customers.

It’s easy to think customer service and CX are not “that old” as departments in most organizations. Some of them still don’t have anything formal.

But history and common sense tell us customer expectations, disappointments, and complaints have been around as long as vendors. Take, for example, this piece in the British Museum of a customer complaint etched in stone!

How should customer service leaders and customer experience leaders coexist?

Here are a few ideas.

1. Customer experience represents the entire journey of the customer.

CX leaders need to be privy to everything from ad campaigns to invoicing and cancellation notices. CX should be leading the charge to drop the silos and work cross-functionally to serve customers better.

2. Customer service has the most access to customers on a regular basis.

As issues arise via customer service contacts or complaints, customer service leaders need to sound the alarm proactively. However, some leaders don’t have a “seat at the table” to share what customers are really saying. They are not valued for the wisdom and access they have.

3. Customer service agents need to feel heard, too.

They have great ideas on how to make things better, especially if they’ve relied on workarounds to resolve issues. They know what’s wrong and how to fix it, so they need a platform to do so.

Who is listening to them and encouraging them to innovate around service? Customer service AND CX leaders need to create channels for that type of communication.

4. All leaders should feel very connected to the voice of the customer.

Both customer service and CX leaders play a role in connecting the executive team to the actual experience. CX leaders are often responsible for gathering and interpreting customer feedback. Therefore, their VoC reports are often distributed widely.

But if there’s no story told with the data, leaders may fall into the quick yay or nay reaction. “Our customer satisfaction went up .25% this month. Yay! Keep up the good work.” Or “Our customer complaints on social media went up .25%! Nay! Fix it!” These reactions do little to actually create change.

Stories are a more powerful way to really connect leaders not just with what’s happening, but with the customer’s emotional state.

VoC reporting should include powerful, real-life stories. This means using the customer’s real words and sending recordings of real calls. Customer service leaders see these issues bubble up before there’s enough to impact the reported data. That said, those leaders should work to capture those stories as they happen.

5. Embrace the tension.

There’s natural tension of both customer service and customer experience leaders wanting to do what’s right for customers. But that tension means better outcomes for the customers themselves.

For example, if these leaders are working together, they may have different ideas about designing the experience. This can lead to conflict and friction within the organization. But embracing that tension means innovating to the best possible solution. That’s a win, but it only happens if everyone works together.

The whole world is focusing on customer service and customer experience this week!

So I urge you to ask if your CX and customer service leaders are truly working together.

Are you a leader in your organization? Is it time to reach out to your customer-focused counterpart and create an alliance? Improving the customer experience always includes listening to your customers. Some of the best resources for those insights might be working right down the hall from you!

It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture when your role requires intense focus on one issue or another. The best customer service is baked right into the culture. Employees and leaders understand how the experience is a journey where customers may require expert and friendly support. Things go right and wrong on any journey.

None of us can do this work alone. We need each other!

About Jeannie Walters, CCXP, CSP

Jeannie Walters CCXP CSP small square photoJeannie is an award-winning customer experience expert, international keynote speaker, and sought-after business coach who is trailblazing the movement from “Reactive Customer Service” to “Proactive Customer and Employee Experience.” More than 500,000 people have learned from her CX courses on LinkedIn Learning, and her insights have been featured in Forbes, The Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal and NPR

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