Customer Service VS. Customer Experience: What is the Difference

We live in a competitive world. 

Every business wants loyal customers, but figuring out how to create customer loyalty isn’t easy. While customer service and customer experience are two key terms often used in discussions about customer loyalty… what do they actually mean? Are they different, or are they two ways of describing the same thing?

Let’s clear up the confusion with a little head-to-head comparison. Customer service vs. customer experience, explained once and for all.

LET’S START WITH SOME DEFINITIONS:

  • Customer service is the assistance you provide to a customer to enable them to receive value from your product or service.
  • Customer experience is the overall feeling and impression you create for your customers across every stage in their customer journey.

Straightforward definitions may be enough to eliminate some of the confusion surrounding these two terms, but let’s take a closer look at each one to ensure clarity around their purpose and the ways you can excel in each area.

What Is Customer Service?

Customer service is the narrower of these two terms and is typically the one that people are more familiar with. We’ve all experienced good and bad customer service – at the supermarket, on an airplane, or via a company’s website. 

Make no mistake: providing great customer service is vital. Seven out of ten consumers say they’ve spent more money to do business with a company that provides great service, with millennials being the most willing to spend extra. On the other hand, research shows that businesses lose billions of dollars every year due to poor customer service.

Customer service is triggered when a customer develops an unmet need. While they may have already purchased your product, they now have questions or issues and need assistance. This assistance can be provided in multiple ways: through an interaction with your support team, in your help center, via a chatbot, and so on.

There are many different ways to measure whether your organization is providing excellent customer service. Some common metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) for customer service include:

  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT). Customer satisfaction is measured by asking your customers whether they were satisfied with specific support interactions. It’s a handy way to test assumptions and highlight opportunities for improvement.
  • First response time. This metric tracks how quickly your customer service team responds to a new customer request. While expectations vary across support channels, it’s a safe bet that if you can find ways to solve customer problems faster, you’ll be improving your customer service.
  • First contact resolution (FCR). First contact resolution measures how effective your support team is at solving problems. It’s found by calculating how many of your support tickets are solved on the customer’s first contact vs. how many require multiple follow up attempts. 

What Is Customer Experience?

Customer experience (CX) describes the overall experience or feeling your organization creates across the entire customer journey with your brand.

In the battle of understanding customer service vs. customer experience, think of customer experience as more of an “umbrella” term. Customer service is an integral part of your customer experience, and it falls underneath the broader umbrella of customer experience.

Put another way, if customer experience is a giant puzzle, customer service is one large piece of that puzzle. There are many other pieces that make up the customer experience puzzle, including your sales process, your product or service itself, and your marketing and design choices. 

In short: nearly every aspect of your business contributes to your customer experience.

Your customer service metrics will impact your customer experience, but there are also a few great metrics you can use to track your customer experience more directly, including:

How To Improve Your Customer Service

If you want your customer service to delight your customers, here are some great steps you can take:

  • Meet them where they are. When your customers need help, make help easy for them to find. Create self-service options, like a customer help center. Offer support channels that appeal to your customers. Shape your support team’s availability around your customers’ usage behaviors.
  • Follow up consistently. Beware of assuming your customer has what they need. Ask questions, be proactive, and set clear expectations on next steps for issue resolution.
  • Train your support team. Your support team is the prime provider of your customer service. Teach them to be empathetic, great listeners, and to communicate clearly. Ensure they receive regular product training and refreshers.
  • Personalize your support. Personalization creates more meaningful connections. Simple actions like using your customers’ names and using personalized emails (rather than strict templates) can craft a more memorable customer service experience.

Customer service is both art and science. The way you deliver exceptional service will continually evolve, but taking fundamental steps like these will ensure a solid foundation for future changes.

How To Improve Your Customer Experience

Creating a great customer experience is a complex endeavor that requires ongoing work, but every organization delivering a great customer experience relies on some common elements for success. These include:

  • Understand your customer journey. Every step in your customer journey contributes to your customer experience, so you need to know your customer journey inside and out. A great first step is understanding every touchpoint a customer has with your brand.
  • Listen to your customers. A Voice of the Customer (VoC) program is a great way to make sure you’re regularly listening to your customers. If you need help getting started, check out Lumoa’s VoC software and get going today.
  • Minimize customer effort. Always try to make life easier for your customers. Reduce the steps needed to make a purchase. Make your support team more accessible. Improve your knowledge base. The easier you can make finding value from your product, the better your customer experience will be.
  • Make it an organization-wide project. Every team in your organization impacts the customer experience somehow. If you want to create a great experience, get stakeholders from every department involved, and help them understand the role they play.

Customer Service Vs. Customer Experience

It should be clear that both customer service and customer experience are vital for long-term business success. Customer service is an important piece of your overall customer experience, and customer experience is the key driver of customer loyalty. 

Businesses that are intentional about making ongoing investments in both customer service and customer experience because without them, they can’t survive. If you’ve been struggling to determine the best next step for your organization to improve in these two areas, don’t delay.