Customer Experience vs Customer Service: Differences

Customer experience and customer service are two terms that get thrown around a lot in business, but do you know exactly what they mean? The phrases are often used interchangeably, but in reality they are different things.

Put simply, customer service is one part of a holistic customer experience. Customer experience refers to the complete journey a customer takes with your brand, from initial awareness to post-purchase care. Customer service refers to a single event when a customer reaches out for help and support during this journey. 

Both are equally as important to the success of your business. You can’t do one well without the other, which is why it’s so important to know what they are and how they are different. 

In this post, we take an in-depth look at the customer service vs customer experience question, clarifying the differences between the two. 

What is customer experience (CX)?

As mentioned, CX refers to the entire journey a customer takes with your business, which makes it a key brand differentiator and an important factor in the success of a business.

The key to creating a good customer experience is making sure all the different customer interaction points are linked up. Allowing customers to jump between touchpoints e.g. from social media to your website to live chat, as part of an omnichannel experience is vital. 

What is customer service? 

Customer service refers to the customer support function of a business. It’s the help and advice offered to customers when they have a question or an issue concerning your product or service.

Unlike CX, customer service is an isolated event and only involves customer-facing departments, such as agents in your contact center or employees in physical stores. 

It typically involves human contact with brands, but as artificial intelligence becomes more advanced, we are seeing more and more technology involved in customer service too. Chatbots, for example, are increasingly used by businesses to deal with FAQs and field initial inquiries to the right agent. 

Key differences between customer service & customer experience

Now we know what customer service and customer experience are, let’s look in detail at the three main differences between them.

1) Holistic experience vs specific interaction

A major distinction in customer service vs customer experience is the number of touchpoints involved and the length of the interaction. 

  • Customer experience refers to the entire customer journey. This encompasses discovery and awareness of a business, through to initial purchase and post-purchase care, to hopefully repeated purchases. As a result, it involves numerous touchpoints and means multiple departments need to be involved in creating a good CX. Not every customer journey will look the same, but all will involve more than one interaction with a business. In this way, CX is holistic. 
  • Customer service is part of CX: it’s one step of a customer’s journey. Some customers will not need to interact with customer service and others may need more than one interaction during their journey. The role of customer service is to support the customer by solving th

2) Reactive vs proactive

One key difference between the two terms is who leads the process: is it the customer or is it the business? Is it a reactive or proactive process?

  • Customer experience is all about anticipating the needs of the customer. Through customer journey mapping, studying funnel drop-off points and website analytics, and asking for customer feedback, businesses constantly work to improve the CX and ensure customers don’t run into problems. Where needed, this could involve steering customers to initiate a customer service interaction. In this way, CX is proactive. 
  • Customer service is nearly always initiated by the customer. The customer faces a problem so they reach out to a business support services via their preferred channel, e.g. phone, email, social media, or live chat. In this way, customer service is reactive.

3) Ongoing relationship vs isolated event

The last difference between customer service and customer experience is how they are measured and connected to other events. 

  • Customer experience is all about the customer’s relationship with a business. It cannot be quantified or pinned down to one single event or interaction. In this way, customer experience is an ongoing relationship – if a customer keeps coming back to your business (which we all want!), their customer experience continues. 
  • Customer service refers to a specific event, i.e. a customer reaching out for help and support, or making a complaint. As an event, it can be measured by a number of metrics, such as first-time resolution rate and average response time. In this way, customer service is a quantifiable, isolated event. 

Deliver great customer service and memorable customer experiences

Although customer service and customer experience are different concepts, they work hand in hand when it comes to building brand loyalty. Delivering great customer service along with seamless customer experiences might seem like a Herculean task, but don’t stress – we are here to help you out!

GoCloud.group helps you provide customer support quickly across various channels and personalize every step of the customer journey.

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