Customer experience vs. customer relationship: What’s the difference? 

Keeping customers happy is one of the most important things you can do. So, when it comes to the customer experience vs. customer relationship debate, the answer is both!

The key to delivering a great customer experience (CX) is establishing solid relationships with your clientele. 

There is crossover when it comes to customer experience vs. customer relationship, but there are some differences.

Read on to learn the difference between customer relationship management vs. customer experience management!

Customer experience vs. customer relationship: What they mean for your business

The main difference between customer experience and customer relationship is their scope. Customer experience is a broader, more holistic view of people’s feelings when interacting with your business. Meanwhile, customer relationships refer to your company’s long-term connections with customers.

Here’s a breakdown to better illustrate the difference between customer experience vs. customer relationship. 

Customer relationship

Customer relationships or customer relations encompass all methods used by a company to nurture connections with its customers. 

Building great customer relationships is the responsibility of your entire company, but your customer service department is vital.

A customer relationship comes primarily in two forms:

  • Reactive: The reactive element of customer relations solves problems and issues posed by the customer, like complaints and support requests.
  • Proactive: A proactive customer relationship builds long-term connections with customers by satisfying their evolving needs. Some ways to make bold, long-term relations include discounts and product updates.

Great customer relationships build trust between you and customers. If customers trust you, they’ll recommend your company to your friends and family, bringing in more business. 

Customer experience

One significant difference between customer experience vs. customer relationship is that customer experience has an enormous scope. 

Customer experience covers the entirety of a person’s feelings and impressions while doing business with your company. Significant customer interactions mean your buyers view your brand positively and increase the likelihood that the customer will come back in the future. 

To understand a good customer experience, you must first identify how a bad one looks. Here are five bad experiences that result in unhappy customers:

  • Long wait times for customer inquiries.
  • Unhelpful answers to questions or requests.
  • A lack of a personal touch.
  • Overly generic, cold service.
  • Unfriendly employees who do not understand customer needs.

Once you eliminate the issues above and provide an excellent customer experience, you can expect the following benefits:

Customer experience management vs. customer relationship management: Key differences

The main difference between customer experience management and customer relationship management is their contributions to business growth. 

Customer relationship management (CRM) focuses on gathering customer data and increasing sales. This acronym can refer to anything from a whole department of employees to software to fulfill this objective. 

Meanwhile, customer experience management (CEM) aims to attract and retain customers to build trust in the brand. 

The two have in common that companies use CRM and CEM platforms to achieve the above goals.

Below is an outline of the objectives of managing customer experiences vs. customer relationships and how software platforms help you achieve them.

Customer relationship management objectives

The main objective of customer relationship management is to meet customer needs to increase revenue and customer loyalty. Customer relationship management software allows you to do the following. 

Maximize marketing efforts

CRM software provides sales activity tracking, campaign management, audience segmentation, and other tools to improve your marketing efforts. 

These features get more people into your sales pipeline and allow you to nurture the leads already in your database.

Learn what the customers want

The consumer history database with most CRM software keeps track of what products or services are most popular with customers. 

With this data, your team can create demand forecasts based on real customer insights to determine which products are the most likely to sell. These insights are also great inspirations for your upsell and promotion strategies.

Improve customer support

CRM systems make it easy to share information internally, improving your customer support team’s ability to respond to questions and complaints. 

Customers who are satisfied with how your support team handles their issues are happier and more likely to come back in the future. 

Customer experience management objectives

The focus of customer experience vs. customer relationship management focuses on creating an enjoyable journey for customers and building trust in your brand. CEM software helps you with the following.

Collect data on user behavior

To deliver a positive customer experience, you need to know what they want and which touchpoints mean the most to them. 

CEM platforms analyze customer data to help your team create reports outlining what your customer base wants from your business.

Improve personalization

One of the best ways to deliver great CX is through a personalized experience. 

Based on engagement activity and other behavioral data, you can craft custom campaigns that target a specific customer type’s pain points. If the drive is well-segmented, your customers will feel understood and like your brand even more.

Process and act on customer feedback

Listening and acting on positive and negative feedback is the best way to show that your company cares. 

Not only will listening to feedback make customers feel valued, but it fixes whatever issue they may have with your company. In turn, this increases customer retention and decreases the churn rate.

The path to perfecting your customer experience

Now that you’ve learned the differences between customer experience vs. customer relationship management, it’s time to learn how to enhance your customer experience. Below are five great methods to do so!

1. Get to know your customers

Knowing your customers is the key to building a positive experience for them, which involves answering the three W’s:

  • Who are your customers?
  • What do your customers want?
  • Why do your customers buy?

You can then use the answers to these questions to create a buyer persona. 

A buyer persona represents your customer base as if it were a person. For instance, one buyer persona for a healthy baby food brand could be a young mother in her late twenties who likes exercising and is health-conscious. 

When creating the customer journey, you need to figure out whether it meets your buyer persona’s needs. 

If your company targets multiple types of people, you can make several buyer personas matching each target demographic.

2. Make use of emerging cloud technology

Advancements in cloud technology, like online consumer portals, have made improving customer experience much easier for businesses. 

CEM software tools allow companies to automate many time-consuming business processes like returns and troubleshooting, so they can concentrate on providing high-quality service with a human touch. 

The same goes for CRM software like Method. These tools are also excellent for lead generation and nurturing potential customers into repeat ones. Here’s a quick peek at what a tool like Method:CRM offers your business.

 

3. Map out your ideal customer journey

Customer journey mapping is essential to building an enjoyable customer experience. 

An excellent way to test your customer journey is to have your target audience go through it themselves. If they find issues during testing, you can still fix them before implementing the customer journey in your business. 

4. Continuously nurture your customer relationships

A good customer experience doesn’t end after they buy something from you. Maintaining customer relationships is another integral part of providing a good customer experience. 

Send out promotions and special offers periodically, so they’re constantly reminded of your business and feel like they’re a valued customer.

5. All hands on board: Make customer experience a team effort

Improving your customer experience isn’t a one-person effort. Your entire company needs to offer an experience that fulfills customer expectations. To put it simply, everybody in your company must remember that, whatever they do, they must always think of the customer.

To encourage customer-centric behavior, offering incentives to employees who go above and beyond for your customers might be worthwhile! 

Recap: How a strong customer experience betters your business

A great customer experience leads to happy customers. Happy customers, in turn, lead to more repeat business and consumer advocates, which brings more revenue to your company. 

While the objectives of customer experience vs. customer relationship differ, some overlaps exist, and these two areas work together to delight your buyers.

To improve your customer experience, you need to:

  • Know your customers.
  • Use cloud technology to automate your process.
  • Map out your customer journey.
  • Nurture customer relationships.
  • Involve your team in customer experience development.

If you keep these five things in mind, your company will surely be a customer favorite!

See how Method:CRM strengthens customer relationships long-term.

Image credit: Tirachard via Adobe Stock 

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