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Customer Service vs. Customer Experience: Explained

Customer Service vs. Customer Experience: Explained

Need to grasp the differences between customer service vs. customer experience? Check out our comprehensive breakdown for more information.

As you iterate on your brand’s processes and constantly evolve your business for better results, you’ll eventually need to focus on customer service and customer experience. On the surface, both of these topics sound similar — after all, doesn’t focusing on customer service result in a top-tier customer experience for your target audience members?

In many cases, yes. That said, there are important differences between customer service vs. customer experience you need to fully understand.

Let’s take a deep dive into these subjects now and how to ensure shoppers have a positive experience.

What Is Customer Service?

Customer service, put simply, involves helping your customers with whatever they need to acquire, use, or fix your products and services. For example, if a customer purchases a product from your online store but can’t get it to work, they might open a customer service ticket. One of your customer service agents will then help them through using the product so they can get maximum satisfaction out of it.

Customer service involves any sort of additional aid, support, or guidance to use your products, services, or platform. It provides actionable solutions to customers as they discover concerns or pitfalls.

In some cases, customer service also involves fixing mistakes made by your brand or its employees. For instance, if one of your employees mistypes a shipping address and a customer doesn’t get their order on time, customer service might involve:

  • Connecting with the customer to assure them that the mistake won’t happen again
  • Fixing the mistake so the shipment heads to the correct address
  • Reassuring a customer and providing them with some extra value, like free shipping or a coupon off their next purchase

Great customer service provides customer care. It takes customer needs and customer feedback into account. Hopefully, this will result in loyal customers over time.

Key Focuses of Customer Service

Customer service’s major focuses can be broken down into three key aspects:

  • First, customer service should be fast. Customers look for speedy, prompt responses to their complaints or issues. They want to feel heard and paid attention to, not ignored because you’ve already received their money.
  • Second, customer service interactions should emphasize empathy and kindness. Customers should feel understood and taken care of right from the start. Thus, your customer service agents need to know how to project empathy and kindness in their voices, how they speak to customers, etc.
  • Thirdly, customer support should be available on any customer’s preferred channel, whether that’s over the phone in real-time or email and online chatbots, etc. That’s one big reason why your customer service team should be available on multiple platforms and channels: It makes it easier for customers to contact you if they have problems and enables your reps to provide stellar support services wherever they need to.

To maximize the effectiveness of your customer support team, include these three focuses in your action plan.

What Is Customer Experience?

Customer experience is much broader than customer service. Summed up, customer service or CX is the complete collection of interactions between your company and a customer. “Interactions” include any times that a customer engages or does business with your brand. Some examples of touchpoints along the entire customer journey include:

  • When a customer experiences and chooses to click on an online advertisement
  • When a prospect navigates through your website or social media
  • When a lead makes a purchase
  • When a customer answers a survey or signs up for an email newsletter
  • When a customer interacts with your customer service team (which can be post-purchase)

Customer experience encompasses customer service as one of its major elements. It’s best to think of customer experience as the total summation of a customer’s emotional experiences with your brand. Each touchpoint impacts customer expectations, customer loyalty, and more.

CX is so vital because it influences whether customers will make purchases and whether they will come back for repeat business. It also influences your reputation, the longevity of your brand’s customer base, and the loyalty that comes from a customer’s perception of your brand.

Key Focuses of Customer Experience

Like customer service, customer experience has three key focuses:

  • People. In CX, having the right people in the right places is key. Your people should know how to interact with their target customers and how to provide top-notch service at all times. Personalized experiences and omnichannel development result in great customer experiences for most audience members.
  • Process. Most customers prefer seamless, intuitive, easy processes. A website should be navigable, the checkout process should be streamlined, and the customer service ticket system should be easy to use.
  • Product. Naturally, customers want five-star products that solve their problems and provide real value, which should be reflected in marketing messaging.

Combined, each of these three key focuses makes up a CX strategy. Ensuring that each element is as solid as possible will go a long way toward helping your brand stand out from the competition.

Key Differences Between Customer Service vs. Customer Experience

So, what are the significant differences between customer service vs. customer experience? There are several major differentiating factors to highlight.

First, customer service gives you a much greater level of control compared to customer experience. While both are under your control on paper, you have the final say over every aspect of your CS department, including:

  • Who works there
  • How your CX agents interact with the public
  • What channels do you offer customer support on
  • And more

In contrast, customer experience is, in practice, somewhat outside your control. You can’t always control how people will view or interact with your brand with 100% certainty. Therefore, CX is likely something you’ll have to iterate on continuously. Awesome CX can assist with this by lending our valuable expertise and helping you identify major areas of improvement.

Second, businesses like yours should measure customer service and customer experience differently. Metrics like the following are all excellent for measuring the efficacy and quality of your customer service department:

  • Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)
  • Net promoter score (NPS)
  • Customer effort score (CES)

Meanwhile, customer experience needs to be measured with different metrics. These include customer lifetime value (CLV), customer retention rate, customer churn rate, and much more. You’ll use many more metrics to fully evaluate CX compared to customer service.

Third, responsibility and ownership differ between customer service and customer experience. When it comes to customer service, customer support department managers and individual agents are responsible for the overall performance of the department.

CX, on the other hand, is much more of a shared responsibility. Executives help to shape CX, but individual or frontline employees also play critical roles in how customers experience brand interactions, like shopping experiences, customer support ticket resolution, etc.

Which Is More Important: Customer Service or Customer Experience?

Neither customer service nor customer experience are more important than the other. In fact, it's best to consider both of these focuses as vital for the term health of your brand.

Customer service, of course, is essential because, sooner or later, someone will have an issue with your company or its products. With a good customer service department ready to go and with a well-trained staff of customer service agents ready to assist, you’ll be able to solve customer problems quickly and satisfactorily. You need top-notch customer support processes to maintain your brand’s reputation and to provide assistance to your target audience members.

Customer experience management, meanwhile, is vital because it determines how customers interact with your brand on a broad scale. If the overall customer experience is lacking at any stage of a buyer’s journey, they may decide not to make a purchase at all. They might walk away thinking that your brand is subpar and might even recommend against it when they speak to friends, coworkers, family members, and more.

Since customer service is part of a good customer experience, focus on improving CX and improving customer service simultaneously. As an example, if you want to make sure that customers feel positive about your brand after they make a purchase, you might make some improvements to your customer service department like:

  • Hiring new CS agents so you always have enough staff on hand to handle customer issues
  • Offering self-service portals and FAQ pages so that customers can answer basic questions themselves
  • Offering customer support across multiple channels instead of just one
  • Reworking your customer support processes to focus on empathy, kindness, and understanding

In these ways, you’ll improve CX and customer support at the same time.

Get Awesome CX’s Help Enhancing CX Today

In a nutshell, customer service is specifically assisting or advocating for your customers. Customer experience is broader and represents all the ways that a customer might interact with your brand. In a way, think of customer service as being a part of the customer experience.

When it comes to improving either, Awesome CX is the ideal partner for your brand. Our knowledgeable specialists are the perfect people to work with whether you need help with customer support, UI design, or other elements of your CX. Send us a note today!


What Is Customer Service, and What Makes It Excellent? | Investopedia

Brand Loyalty: How To Get It And Keep It, Even When Times Are Tough | Forbes

Three Ways To Redefine Your Customer Experience Strategy | Forbes