Customer service and “customer experience management” may sound so similar they may  seem like the same thing, but one really contributes to the other.

When customers feel their needs have been satisfied, for example, that’s the perfect ending to a customer experience that began with learning about the company’s products and services and which led to a purchase. When customer service issues aren’t resolved well, on the other hand, it could ruin what might have been a great customer experience otherwise.

This is what makes customer experience management so important, and why the use of tools such as Salesforce Service Cloud can be a solid foundation for a customer experience strategy. What you need to build on top of that foundation is a blend of quality service characteristics. If the following sound familiar, it’s because they’re the ones that define some of the most successful companies today.

Employee-Driven Service Provides The Most Emotional Customer Experience

Customers tend to be highly sensitive to negative reactions from your service team - especially when something goes wrong.This can include an rep’s tone of voice on the phone, a curt email or social media response or even body language during an in-person encounter. If you want to know how to improve the customer experience most efficiently, start with the people who will be on the front lines.

There are plenty of examples of companies that provide employee perks to promote work-life balance or other incentives. Learn from them and apply the lessons you can. Even advanced training can make service issues easier to resolve and can be a highly measurable investment. The next time you audit a contact centre call or other service incident, ask yourself: Does this employee behave as though they’re being forced to help due to your customer experience management initiative, or as though they have a genuine interest in making someone’s day a little better?

Holistic Service Provides The Most Brand-Friendly Customer Experience

If customers reach out with a troubleshooting question or an emergency of some kind, they’re keenly interested in learning about the solution you can provide. What they’re not interested in is learning about the complexity of your organizational structure. In other words, if they have to be passed around several times, repeat the same information or be kept waiting for an unreasonable period, it reflects badly on your entire brand image. It will be the first thing they reference with colleagues, friends or family. That’s why every customer experience strategy should aim to break down silos wherever possible.

Because it can be connected to CRM such as Sales Cloud or automation technology like Marketing Cloud, Service Cloud ensures that everyone is on the same page, with the same information, all aimed at better understanding the customer’s needs. That allows you to offer “holistic service,” where customers don’t sense any disconnects across the various departments in your business.

Personalized Service Provides The Most Memorable Customer Experience

Like anyone else, customers want to feel like they’re not just one in a long lineup of people waiting to be heard. They want to be recognized and have service tailored to them without having to offer a lot of detailed instructions. That’s where using data to create a customer experience index comes in.

Think about the index you find in the back of a non-fiction book. It will list keywords and topics that you may want to look up quickly, and has the page number beside it for easy reference. A customer experience index works in much the same way. By organizing all the information about a particular customer’s interactions with a company, it’s a lot more straightforward to create a personalized approach that helps them be successful with your products. If you can use data to show them that you remember who they are, they will certainly remember you -- in a very positive way.

Proactive Service Provides The Most Sustainable Customer Experience

The best customer service teams are like a collective brain that continues to get smarter with each passing call, email or social media post. Technology like Salesforce Einstein takes that brainpower to a new level by bringing artificial intelligence (AI) into the mix.

Think about all the actions a customer might take as they discover, purchase and use your products. Customer experience mapping will allow you to understand at a granular level what their journeys  look like. AI, however, means you can not only look at those maps to see where they’ve gone in the past, but where they’ll go in the future. In other words, if they buy certain products or use them in certain ways, there may be patterns in terms of what service requests or troubleshooting issues tend to come up.

If you can get ahead of those issues and even proactively reach out to customers before they call you, imagine what that means for your relationship with them. Suddenly, the question mark over whether they’ll buy from you again is completely erased. Their business with you becomes sustainable because you’ve proven you can exceed their expectations to keep them satisfied.

Customer experience management isn’t just something only large companies can pull off anymore. With the right technology, tactics and talent, it’s an area where excellence is possible for everyone. Which means customers are starting to expect organizations of all kinds to pursue it too.

Social, mobile, connected, and cloud technologies have changed the way customers expect service. Check out our ebook, "5 Ways to Make Service Easy for Today’s Customers," with more ways you can make the service experience easy for your customers.