Key Differences between Customer Experience and Customer Service

Customer service can be considered the attributes necessary to heighten and compliment the Customer Experience – which translates to the holistic customer journey as they navigate through every interaction with your company. From the customer’s first inquiry, through their engagement with your employees, brand, product or service – and even post-purchase support – that is customer service. From first impression to completing the sale transaction (and beyond) is the customer experience.

Although different, both customer service and the customer experience are equally important to the success of your business and retaining customers. You cannot have poor customer service and have a positive customer experience. Likewise, having great customer service does not equate to the customers having a positive experience. In this post, we will define the two terms, key differences and provide an in-depth look at how they are intertwined.

What is Customer Service?

Any business owner or employee who has worked for a business generally understands what customer service is. But just in case, we will define customer service as the interaction points when a customer engages with your business’ employees. For example, when a customer calls into your office to ask a question or get product information – how that interaction is handled by the employee is customer service. Was the employee polite, helpful, courteous, attentive? All are signs of exemplary customer service. Customer service interactions are typically isolated one-off events but must have consistency between interactions and employees.
Typically, humans are responsible for customer service – but now (unfortunately for customers) your first customer service interaction may be through an automated machine or AI chatbots. Similarly, to humans, a company’s customer service is evaluated by the customer’s interaction – regardless of if the exchange is automated or with a human. For example, if you’ve ever gotten frustrated bypassing an automated system in order to speak with a human – you experience a negative customer service interaction. If, however, the customer received answers to their questions, solutions to their problem, or the information they requested in an expeditated manner – this could be considered good customer service.

What is Customer Experience (CX)?

Customer experience refers to the entire journey (comprised of multiple customer service interactions). Although customer service is equally important, the customer experience (or journey) will be remembered most as they navigate your business in pursuit of your product or service. The good news with customer service is that if a customer has a subpar interaction, they may be likely to give your business another chance. However, having a negative or subpar customer experience could lose that customer’s business – forever. Conversely, statistics show that there is an 80% increase in revenue for businesses that focus on improving the customer experience. Additionally, 73% of customers agreed that their customer experience is directly correlated with their buying decision – including paying more for products or up-sale items!

Key Differences Between Customer Service & Customer Experience (CX)
We have differentiated customer service & customer experience. Now let’s look deeper into the key differences between them.

1. Holistic Journey & Experience vs. Specific Interactions
The key difference between Customer Service & Customer Experience can be seen from the customer’s perspective. Each interaction the customer has with the company is considered customer service, whereas the customer experience relates to the overall picture and feeling of the company. The customer experience can be directly correlated with retention rate of clients. The better a customer experience, the high probability of a customer returning for a second purchase.

2. Proactive vs. Reactive
Mapping out the customer experience allows a company to be proactive with their clients, rather than reactive. Doing this will allow management to identify all the interactions and customer service touchpoints. This creates an improved process and system that allows customer service to better help and assist your clients.

3. Isolated Event vs. Building a Customer Relationship
Each interaction is an isolated event. Although important, the goal of any company is to build a customer relationship for long-term commitment and revenue. A company builds a customer relationship by carefully crafting the customer experience so that it is proactive, engaging, and facilitates effortless interactions which result in a positive experience with the company.

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