Article | Customer Experience

Without Customer Care, Your Customer ‘Service’ is Only Halfway Effective

Patrick McCullough
Call Center Rep with Headphones Smiling at the Camera
Call Center Rep with Headphones Smiling at the Camera

When a consumer chooses your brand above all others, it’s a more meaningful action than you might think. Why? Because in today’s competitive marketplace, consumers are hard to please. According to a 2020 study from Shep Hyken, 96% of people said they would gladly switch loyalties between companies when given an important caveat: They’d leave if faced with a bad customer experience.

As long as your company focuses on delivering exceptional, amazing, so-good-it’s-unparalleled customer experiences, this consumer landscape is good news for you. It represents an opportunity to woo customers by treating them better.

Of course, becoming known for A-level customer experiences isn’t easy. Not everyone reaches Apple or Ritz-Carlton stardom. Yet you can serve up a phenomenal experience even without a big budget or lots of employees. The key is to focus your attention not just on customer service, but also on customer care.

Customer Service Versus Customer Care: How They Differ

When considering customer service versus customer care, you might think they sound basically the same. However, the former is reactive (“we’re here to fix your problem”) while the latter is proactive (“we’re here to serve you”).

Take customer service, for instance. Customer service representatives are taught to react, often to consumer problems that come up after a purchase or interaction. The service might even be automated, as in the case of chatbots powered by artificial intelligence or self-serve kiosks. Customer service is also typically measured and guided. Companies might reward customer service representatives for spending as little time with consumers as possible, prioritizing quantity over quality.

Now, these qualities don’t make customer service inherently negative. In fact, it’s essential. Nevertheless, it won’t elevate your consumer experience unless you combine it with its proactive sibling: customer care.

Customer care is an approach to engaging with consumers as humans at any point within the consumer life cycle. You can think of it as living out your corporate mission through your people’s efforts. As such, your employees might be empowered to worry less about the clock during phone calls and listen more intently to consumers who just want to vent. Or you might task your customer care employees with looking for ways to show their empathy and humanity by doing something outrageously kind for a consumer, like following up with a handwritten note or card.

If customer service is the brain of your organization’s overall customer experience, customer care is the heart — it brings an invaluable emotional quality to all touchpoints.

Improving Your Customer Care in a Few Steps

Enhancing your business’s consumer experience by putting a premium on customer care will involve making a few changes to the way you interact with browsers and buyers. Check out our top tips for bumping up the care factor at your company:

  • Help your customer care workers build and perfect their empathy on the job. Let them practice empathy during training sessions and workshops before enacting it on your company’s front lines.

  • Do away with using time as a measure of success with consumers. The less pressure your customer service representatives are under to power through a consumer assembly line, the better chance you’ll have of building rapport with your customers.

  • Connect personally with consumers by sending greeting cards on special occasions or during moments that require empathy. For example, if a customer falls ill and has trouble paying a bill, a customer care representative could follow up with a handwritten note to encourage the customer and brighten their day.

  • Make it easy for consumers to talk to a human. Some problems are too complex or personal to effectively communicate to a bot.

  • Identify your top customers and make a special push to show them a high level of customer care.

  • Give your people the systems and processes necessary to amplify your customers’ satisfaction with your business. For example, our Customer Care Solution provides your customer service team with end-to-end services that help build meaningful connections with customers.

Over time and with diligence, your customer care efforts will pay off in several ways. Don’t be surprised if you discover a boost in employee engagement and not just consumer satisfaction. In our experience, employees value being able to perform random acts of kindness more than you might imagine.

Want to hear more about how to improve customer experiences with our exclusive, unforgettable partner solutions? Learn more about Hallmark’s Customer Care Program now.