Flavio Martins is the vice president of operations at DigiCert, Inc., a provider of enterprise authentication services and digital security certificates used by thousands of government, education, and Fortune 500 organizations.

Martins also blogs about customer service at Win the Customer and has been named one of the five most influential customer service bloggers by ARC Pointe Call Center Solutions. “For too long we’ve put up with “satisfaction” as the goal for customer service,” he writes. “But who wakes up hoping to just be satisfied for the day? We all want to be delighted.”

Companies have started using the term “customer experience” rather than terms used previously, such as customer service. What nuance has been added by using this new term?

Although you might think they are interchangeable, there’s actually a great difference between the two. Customer experience is the culmination of the processes and service actions an organization performs for customers. It’s easy to get a single service interaction right. One person alone can do it and make a difference for a customer once. But to string it together and make a difference for all customers is beyond the job of just a single person. It takes an entire organization, committed and united to the vision of delivering the right experience that customers deserve.

What is the biggest single improvement companies could make in customer experience?

Nothing matters more to the customer experience than understanding what your customers really want. If you had to focus on just one thing, you should zero in on understanding who your customers are and what they really want from you. Once you know, it changes everything. Everything you think, everything you do, is affected—or should be.

For instance, a quirky Zappos service experience won’t work for a customer like [GE’s] Jack Welch. On the flip side, offering a very straightforward approach won’t win you customers who are looking for a quirky experience. To serve effectively, you have to understand the type of service experience that your customers want.

You talk a lot about call centers in the context of customer experience. How do you see call centers progressing in this area?

The typical call center that we associate with customer service is quickly fading into history. Today’s call center has transformed into a contact center. It’s a place where organizations manage every customer touch point and where the service experience is translated into action across a large number of contact channels that customers rely on for service.

Today’s contact centers aren’t just about a place to answer the phone. Email, live chat, social media, and video are extremely effective tools that call centers have adopted as they have transformed. The shift that’s underway at call centers is changing the way organizations are connecting with customers and developing the customer relationship. You also have to consider the value that organizations get today from the data that is flowing in and out of the contact center, and the profound effect that this information can have on making and keeping valuable customers. It’s electrifying to see how critical this cog is in the experience these days.

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