The terms “customer service” and “customer experience” are often used interchangeably, but they have very different meanings and interpretations. While they are related, there are definitely unique characteristics of both.
Today, research shows that companies investing in customer experience boast a higher stock price. According to a portfolio of publicly traded companies drawn from the top 20% of brands in Forrester’s Customer Experience Index – these companies that invest in customer experience had higher stock price growth and higher total returns than a similar portfolio of companies drawn from the bottom 20% of brands.
So what is the difference between Customer Service and Customer Experience?
Customer service is only one piece of the puzzle — focused on human interaction and directly supporting customers while customer experience is the sum of the entire customer journey with your business.
Let’s get into more detail.
Customer service is the assistance
and advice provided to a customer for your product or service as needed. Customer
service requires your team to possess patience, product knowledge, and compassion,
so they can provide the answers and assistance a customer needs.
The goal of customer service is to increase customer satisfaction, usually by answering questions, but could also include helping a customer choose the right product before they make a purchase, giving assistance to customers on how to best use the product, trouble-shooting any issues, and ensuring they had a great buying experience. Customer service is a vital part of the entire experience—nearly 75% of customers who leave do so because they aren’t satisfied with customer service.
What is Customer Experience?
Customer Experience, or CX, reflects the broader customer journey across the organization and includes every interaction between the customer and the business. Customer experience is the sum of all contact, from first discovering and researching a product to shopping and purchasing, to actually using the product and following up with the brand afterwards. Customer experience measures how customers feel about a company overall and includes the emotional, physical, psychological connection customers have with a brand. It isn’t a one-time interaction, but rather includes the entire customer lifecycle and every touchpoint a customer has with a product or service.
Customer experience includes three main components:
- Customer Service: Including Customer Support, Customer Success, and self-service support — the points at which your customer interacts with your team.
- Technology: This is the product itself — how it works and the interactivity points.
- Design: This is the brand touchpoint — the marketing, the design, and the feelings your brand creates for your customer.
All of the pieces combine to make up the customer experience.
Putting it Together
Customer experience is measured by net promoter score (NPS), which tracks how likely a customer is to recommend the brand to a friend. Customer service is measured through the customer satisfaction score (CSAT), which measures how satisfied customers are with the experience.
The main difference is customer service is reactive and often is only used when a customer isn’t satisfied. If a customer has an issue with a product or service, that is typically the only time they would contact customer service. On the other hand, customer experience is proactive, aiming to reach every customer. The goal being to provide an exceptional journey so customers do not have to contact customer service. While customer service may only be a one-time interaction, customer experience is long-term, creating lasting impressions that will stay with the customer every time they think of the company.
Customer service and customer experience are both important pieces to an organization’s success, yet it’s not possible (or necessary) to draw hard lines between them. Customers consider the whole picture when thinking about your brand, and you should, too. The two elements work together to build a satisfied customer base that is loyal to the brand and will return for more.