Is Customer Service the Same as Customer Experience?
As we celebrate Customer Service Week 2023, let’s revisit one of the most common questions that anyone working with customer service asks: is customer experience (CX) the same thing as customer service (CS)?
Many business commentators use these terms interchangeably, making it easy to confuse them. Although customer service and customer experience are crucially important for any company that wants satisfied customers, they are different.
They share commonalities – denote different aspects of a business’s customer interaction. However, understanding the distinctions between these two concepts is essential for companies aiming to foster loyalty, increase satisfaction, and drive growth.
What is Customer Service?
Customer service refers to the company’s assistance and advice to those who buy or use its products or services. It’s a reactive domain, activated when a customer asks a question, complaint, or request. This could be through a call to a helpline, an email query, or a face-to-face interaction in a store.
The primary goal here is to resolve problems and answer questions promptly and efficiently. For example, if a customer receives a faulty product and contacts the company for a replacement, the swiftness and politeness with which the company addresses this issue are all components of customer service.
What is Customer Experience?
Customer experience encompasses the broader journey a customer undergoes from the moment they first become aware of a brand to the post-purchase phase. It includes every touchpoint and every interaction, whether direct, such as a service call, or indirect, like an advertisement they see on television.
Customer experience is a holistic construct, summing up the emotions, perceptions, and responses evoked by all interactions with a brand. For instance, consider a customer purchasing a smartphone online. Their experience begins the moment they start researching brands and models and continues through the purchase process on a website, including the wait for delivery, the unboxing, and then the daily use of the product. If they encounter any issues and reach out for customer service, that service becomes just one element of the customer experience.
Scope is the key difference.
Customer Service as Part of Customer Experience
While CS tends to be momentary, addressing immediate needs and issues, CX traces the entire relationship between the consumer and the brand.
It can, therefore, be said that customer service is one element of customer experience. A company could offer a fantastic customer service process, but if the product is faulty or challenging to use, then the customer experience could still be poor.
Both are important in shaping how customers see and feel about a product. Still, CS is focused on specific questions and needs – how to fix a problem – and CX is the broader total experience of this brand.
This creates a question for customer service managers. You might be operating a very high-quality customer service process with an excellent trained and motivated team, but how can you influence the broader customer experience?
Customer service managers must ensure they work with other teams inside their brand – any customer-facing function should be coordinated with the customer service team. This may involve working with marketing, sales, and advertising to ensure that the service team knows all the other ways the customer interacts with the brand.
For a brand to thrive, it is imperative to offer responsive and efficient CS and ensure that every touchpoint, direct or indirect, reinforces positive associations and enhances overall satisfaction – that’s the customer experience.