Customer service. Customer experience. Customer success.

If we were playing Tribond,the common link among these three terms would be pretty obvious: They all relate to meeting customers’ needs.

But they’re not identical.

How do these three terms differ – and why do those differences matter?

Let’s take a look. First, some practical definitions within the context of our industry:

Customer service:

The support and advice you offer employers and job seekers to meet their needs before, during and after they work with your staffing firm.

Example: A client calls with a question about their latest invoice. Your accounting member researches the issue and resolves it fully while they have the client on the line.

Customer experience:

The impression (i.e., feelings, emotions, perceptions) a client or candidate has of your staffing firm, resulting from all the interactions (i.e., touchpoints) they have over the life of their relationship with your agency.

Example: A job seeker sees your posting on Indeed and becomes aware of your agency. They research your firm online, visit your website and then read a few reviews about your company on Glassdoor. The website is easy to use and the reviews are great, so the job seeker applies online and schedules an interview with a recruiter.

Your recruiter is friendly, informative and helpful, and they’re able to quickly place the candidate on their first assignment. While on assignment, the associate receives emails and check-in calls from from their recruiter. The temp also uses your mobile app to check out other jobs you have available. In the meantime, the client employer is so pleased with the associate that they want to hire the temp directly. The recruiter works with the temp and the employer to facilitate a seamless transition. The associate (now an employee of your client) is thrilled with their new job, so they leave a glowing recommendation for your agency on several review sites.

All of these touchpoints comprise the candidate’s experience with your staffing firm.

Customer success:

A proactive function of your staffing firm dedicated to helping clients and candidates:

  • have an easy and enjoyable experience with you
  • meet and exceed their goals by working with you
  • build stronger relationships with you
  • get the maximum value from your staffing and placement services/solutions

Example: One of your account managers notices a pattern with a client’s account: Each year, this client calls in a panic during the third week of November, requesting a large number of temporaries to start assignments (with mandatory overtime) the following week.

This year, the account manager reaches out to the client in October to schedule a free workforce consultation. During the appointment, the account manager and business owner: review the client’s temp staffing usage from prior years; identify patterns; discuss long-term staffing needs; and devise a plan to recruit in advance of the client’s staffing needs, so they receive even better qualified candidates – and prevent the stress and panic they experienced in previous years.

Now, let’s examine how these terms relate to one another:

  • Customer service is largely reactive; customer success is proactive.
  • Customer service is traditionally transactional, while customer success is relationship-oriented and ongoing.
  • Customer service is one element of a client’s or candidate’s total customer experience.
  • Customer success is one part of customer service.

So, which is most important for your staffing firm to master?

To ensure the highest overall satisfaction levels with your firm, you must excel in all three areas. The good news is, if you read my Shareworthy Service posts regularly, you’ll get practical tips to level up your customer service, success and experience – and delight employers and job seekers.

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