Customer experience vs. customer relationship vs. customer success: Why your brand needs all 3

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Happy customers are the cornerstone of a successful brand, but what does it really take to get them? With so many factors affecting customer interactions it can be hard to know where to focus your time and resources.

Customer experience (CX) has long been top of mind for companies, but what goes into good CX can be difficult to pin down. How much should brands focus on customer relationship? How important is customer success and how is it measured? When it comes to making CX more seamless, what truly moves the needle for companies that want to stand apart from their competition?

Customer relationship, customer success, and CX all play pivotal roles in a brand’s success. Let’s break down the nuances between customer experience vs. relationship vs. success – and how to avoid some common roadblocks.

Know the differences

Brands that want to deliver frictionless customer interactions need to understand the differences – and interplay – among customer relationship, customer success, and customer experience.

Customer relationship refers to how well brands know their customers. To deliver the type of personalized experiences that exceed customers’ expectations, brands need to go beyond the transactional and learn what motivates, delights, and frustrates them. Brands that excel at customer relationships don’t just meet customers’ current needs; they prognosticate how to help them in the future.

For most brands, nearly all transactions are positive experiences that go off without a hitch; it’s those rare opportunities where the brand hasn’t met its promises that are the focus of customer success. No brand is perfect, and missteps are bound to happen. Customer success is about how brands recover from fumbles, how they listen to customers and identify areas for improvement in those moments. In essence, it’s brand defense at scale.

When customer relationship and customer success come together, the result is customer experience (CX). Customer experience is the sum total of a brand’s customer-centric initiatives. It’s the way all those efforts feel to customers – and, when done well, it’s what helps brands exceed business goals like brand loyalty, sales, and revenue targets.

Avoid common pitfalls

Nothing’s better than customer relationship and customer success efforts complement each other, creating a positive customer experience. But it’s easier said than done. Here’s how to overcome or avoid some common obstacles.

One of the biggest mistakes companies make when it comes to customer relationships is failing to integrate the customer data they collect into their associates’ daily workflow and systems (like CRM tools). Even the best data won’t help someone who can’t or doesn’t know how to access and use it.

When data isn’t integrated, associates are limited in how well they can know and help a customer, which leads to frustrating experiences for associates and customers alike. The contact center is a brand’s frontline and they should be armed with all the best customer data available.

Empowering associates also brings benefits when it comes to customer success. Don’t make the mistake of only authorizing supervisors and managers to “wow” customers. Too often, the only way customers can resolve their issues is by escalating them; this shouldn’t be the case. Brands that excel at customer success empower their frontline associates to resolve issues. The results? Happier and more engaged associates, who deliver better CX, which leads to happier customers.

Customer experience brings its own set of pitfalls, including the metrics used to measure it. It’s common for brands to ask NPS-driven survey questions after customers interact with a contact center but, while doing so can shed some light, it’s not enough on its own. Investing in voice of the customer (VoC) strategies and tools – and asking the right questions – better enables companies to truly understand what’s important to customers and who should be getting credit for positive or bad experiences.

To know how a company’s CX efforts are faring, it’s critical to get a holistic view of what’s driving both positive and negative experiences. Don’t rush to lay blame, or lavish praise, on the contact center – there are a lot of moving pieces, across various channels, that comprise CX and the customer journey and each one should be examined.

Get expert advice

Ensuring your brand is making the right moves and using the best tools when it comes to customer relationships, customer success, and customer experience can be a daunting undertaking. But working with the right strategic partner can help.

TTEC Digital combines technology and operations expertise to help leading brands take their contact centers and CX to the next level. Beyond bringing clients best-in-class technology, we work with brands to help devise and execute the CX strategy needed to realize those tools’ full potential. There’s no need to go it alone when you can benefit from our decades of experience.