Customer Service Vs. Customer Experience The Difference

Customer Service vs. Customer Experience: What’s the Difference?

Is there a difference between customer service and customer experience? Yes!

In a Nutshell

Customer service and customer experience are not the same things, but they are related. Customer service is a piece of the customer experience puzzle.

Table of Contents

Customer experience has become a buzzword in today’s world. More and more companies are stressing on improving customer experience. But there’s another buzzword: “excellent customer service”.

What is customer service? Are customer service and customer experience different? Heck, is there even a difference? This article will layout compare the two: customer service vs customer experience, if you will.

If you’ve had the same questions—we get it. These terms are often used interchangeably, but guess what? They aim to achieve the same goals yet are very different.

In this article, we dissect these two terms and show critical differences between them. Read on and learn how customer service and customer experience drive each other.

What is Customer Experience?

In one sentence: Customer experience refers to a customer’s overall perception of your brand based on their interactions with your brand.

Customer experience is formed through the entire customer journey. This includes the moment a customer learns about your brand, purchase, use of your product, and any possible support interactions.

Your ad popping up on their Facebook feed, them talking to your sales representative or browsing around looking for the right product—all of this a part of the customer experience. How your customer feels during these interactions shapes a good or bad customer experience.

The perfect example of a good customer experience is Netflix. Here’s a mini case study on how Netflix makes a good customer experience.

  • They start with ensuring a great customer experience by providing you with thousands of movie and show options to choose from.
  • Based on the shows you watch, you get accurate suggestions as well. The more you use the platform, the better the suggestions—which is a great way to keep users happy!
  • If you need to get in touch with a customer service agent, support is quick and knowledgeable.
  • Netflix’s advertising campaigns are always fun to watch. They follow a meme-based approach for the most part—which users  enjoy.

At every step, Netflix is dedicated to providing a great customer experience. And they sure do. So, customer experience involves providing a great experience in every customer-facing aspect of business. That includes delivering great customer service, too!

All right, so what is customer service?

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What is Customer Service?

Customer service is the assistance you provide for customers to have simple, seamless interaction with your brand before and after they purchase and use your goods or services. It’s usually delivered by dedicated customer service teams.

You provide customer care when a customer raises a support ticket, and your agents talk to them and resolve their queries. Customer service can be provided through live chat, social media, email, and phone support. A chatbot or a human agent, or both, could be involved in delivering customer service. In essence, any customer interaction qualifies as customer service (or customer care).

It must be clear by now that customer service is a shaping factor in the customer experience.

Excellent customer service is not just being quick with your solutions, but it also involves providing the best possible solutions to your customers. Here are some factors that contribute to excellent customer service:

  • Omnichannel support
  • Trained agents (both soft and hard skills)
  • A good balance between quality and speed
  • Improvement by looking at customer feedback

What constitutes great customer service keeps changing with time. For example, 10 years back being able to call customer support was good customer support. Today, it is much more than that. Customers expect self-service, omnichannel access and quicker responses.

Companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google are known for their excellent customer service!

Now, let’s move on to the key differences between customer service and customer experience.

Customer Service vs Customer Experience: The Key Differences

Here are 5 key differences that highlight how customer service and customer experience are two separate things:

  1. Entire Journey Vs. Few Interactions

Customer experience includes the entire journey a customer has with your brand. There are multiple touchpoints when it comes to customer experience. CX includes customer service and much more that happens before and after that.

When it comes to customer service, there are few interactions involved. The customer service staff interacts with customers only when they raise a request. Your customers will always be engaged with your brand but will reach out for support only a few times.

  1. Reactive Vs. Proactive

Customer experience is proactive in nature. What this means is that when a company is engaged in improving customer experience, they are intuitive. They are performing their own research, learning new ways, and not waiting for problems to arise. Instead, the approach being used focuses on averting potential issues.

Whereas customer service is reactive in nature. Customer service can only be provided when a customer reaches out. When a ticket is raised (via any channel), the agents start working on delivering the best solution. Without any customer service requests, customer service cannot be provided—making it reactive in nature.

  1. Success Metrics

Another critical distinction between customer service and customer experience is the metrics used to measure progress.

The standard metrics used to measure customer experience are:

  • Customer Effort Score: How much effort your customer has to put in to get support.
  • Customer Retention Rate: The number of customers that stay with your brand or make regular purchases over a certain period of time.
  • Customer Churn Rate: The number of customers that leave your brand over a specific period of time.

On the other hand, the metrics commonly used to measure customer service are:

  • Customer Satisfaction Score: This metric measures the level of satisfaction your customers have with your brand (usually done through a survey).
  • Average First Response Time: This is the average time lapsed between a customer reaching out to you and an agent responding.
  • Resolution Time: This is the time lapsed between a customer raising a ticket and it being marked as “resolved.”
  1. Level of Control

Customer service is in your control. You can train your agents, track your progress and improve your customer service efforts. Hence, you have higher control over the type of customer service your customers will receive.

In the case of customer experience, many factors could be out of your control—reducing the degree of control over CX. For example, the expectations of customers cannot be controlled by your brand. A customer may have unreasonable expectations, and you may not be able to fulfill them. This could create a bad customer experience for them but at no fault of yours.

  1. Accountability

In customer service, your customer support team is accountable for ensuring a good customer service experience. This includes your customer support managers and agents, as well as any external customer support help you may have.

However, customer experience is the responsibility of an organization as a whole. All departments in your business are responsible for a good customer experience. This includes all departments like the marketing department, sales department or R&D department.

Key Differences: Infographic

customer-service-vs-customer-experience-infographic

The most important lesson to take away from this is that customer experience goes beyond the conventional notion of customer service. It concerns the broader picture of what takes place prior to and following these service engagements.

Why Should You Care about the Difference between Customer Service and Customer Experience?

Understanding the difference between customer service and customer experience will help your organization grow as a whole.

If you think of customer experience and customer service as the same thing, your customer may love the support they get from your brand but may not enjoy the user experience with your brand.

Similarly, if you equate customer experience with service, your customers may love your brand but hate the customer support they get. Worst part? You will not be able to do anything about the service part because you don’t get the difference between CX and CS in the first place!

Forbes says that 70% of customers are willing to spend more on excellent customer service (CS). 73% of customers also say that great customer experience drives their buying decisions.

The above statistics are proof that your organization’s success is dependent on both customer service AND customer experience. By understanding the difference between these terms, you can work on them in different aspects.

Result: You can deliver excellent customer experience and great customer service.

Parting Thoughts

Customer service and customer experience are not the same things, but they are related. Customer service is a piece of the customer experience puzzle. Your focus should be on improving both for complete organization growth. Since they’re interrelated to a great extent, drawing lines between them is difficult. Nonetheless, you must remember that a great customer experience will not increase without excellent customer service. Similarly, bad customer service would ruin a great customer experience too.

Sanjana Sankhyan
Sanjana Sankhyan
Sanjana Sankhyan is a freelance writer and specializes in delivering data-driven blog posts for B2B SaaS brands. She helps businesses attract more audience and sales with her writing. If not writing, you’ll find her helping other freelancers be better at what they do. Find her on LinkedIn or Twitter.