Customer Experience vs Customer Service: What’s the Difference? 

Avatar
Andy Cook
November 21, 2023

Both customer experience and customer service are important parts of the customer journey.  The terms “customer service” and “customer experience” are often confused or used interchangeably. They’re not the same thing, but they are related.

In this post, we discuss what customer service is, what customer experiences are, and explore the main differences that differentiate the two. 

Add to your customer support tech stack ➡️ See the top tools

What is Customer Service?

Customer service or CS is the support offered by a company to customers who purchase its products or services. Customer service may be provided both before and after the purchase process. 

Once relegated to traditional phone support, today’s customer service exists in a wide variety of channels, including:

  • Email
  • Live chat
  • Self-help portals
  • Social media

Customer service is critical because today’s consumers are more empowered than ever before, thanks to online reviews, social media, and word of mouth. 

What is Customer Experience?

Customer experience or CX is the customer’s overall perception of their experience with your brand. It includes their feelings about your business, how they perceive your brand’s reputation, and their positive or negative reactions to the entire customer journey.

A good CX is essential since almost 90% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, a dramatic rise from just 36% in 2010. In fact, CX is so important that according to one CEO, “Customer experience is the new marketing.”

Customer Experience vs Customer Service: Key Differences 

The main difference between CS and CX is that customer service is only one aspect of

the entire customer experience.

Scope

Customer service focuses on the human element and provides direct assistance to consumers, while customer experience considers the full customer’s journey with your company.

This means that while CS is the responsibility of the customer service team, the responsibility for CX lies with the entire company, from sales and marketing to AE and after sales support.

Interaction

As the name implies, customer service steps in when the customer has a question or issue. In contrast, CX is involved with the entire buying experience, so that it is proactive instead of reactive to customer concerns.

Relationship

Customer service is concerned with the transactional aspect of the customer journey: resolving whatever questions or problems there are to complete the sale or after sale support.

CX is much broader: since it encompasses the whole experience, it deals with the experiential relationship between the customer and the brand, and how to ensure the customer stays happy and loyal.

Measurement of success

The level of customer service is primarily gauged by the customer satisfaction score or CSAT. This is usually the grade or feedback form provided whenever a customer issue is resolved.

For CX, there are plenty of metrics to gauge the customer journey. These include the customer lifetime value (CLV), net promoter score (NPS), as well as retention and churn rates.

Customer service vs customer experience

Which One Should I Focus On? 

Customer service and customer experience are not exclusive –  both are intertwined with each other. CS is actually only a small part of CX, and both are essential in order to stay competitive.

If you are a smaller business, you can start by making sure you have solid customer support by looking at your team’s customer service skills and the effectiveness of your CS channels. This allows you to build a solid customer base and increase the chances of repeat business.

Once your CS is properly organized, you can then start to look at the whole customer experience. By doing so, you can enhance your brand perception, improve the shopping experience, reduce churn, and turn customers into ambassadors.