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What’s the Difference? Customer Service vs. Customer Experience, Explained

Laduram Vishnoi
4 min read
What’s the Difference? Customer Service vs. Customer Experience, Explained

Do all businesses want to keep their customers happy? We’d hope so.

Mastering a customer-centric approach involves customer experience and customer service—but do they mean the same thing? Is there a difference between these two terms? 

In a nutshell, here’s how industry veterans would define each: 

  • Customer service focuses on communication and problem-solving so customers get the best out of your service. 
  • Customer experience looks at the overall impression that you leave customers in every stage of the customer journey. 

OK—hopefully you understand why they’re both priorities for your business. 

Now, let’s have an in-depth look at customer service vs. customer experience.

What is customer service?

Customer service is the assistance provided to customers before and after they make a purchase. 

Customer service

Customer service expectations have grown in the past few years. Microsoft found that 54% of consumers have higher customer service expectations than they did just one year ago. Another study found that 52% of consumers say they have made an additional purchase from a company after a positive customer service experience.

The Harvard Business Review believes that customer service matters on all platforms

Today’s consumers have a large number of avenues where they can get in touch with customer support teams. Email, text messaging, live chat, chatbots, and social media enable them to make a purchase anytime and anywhere. 

Technology such as video calls and cobrowsing have helped support teams create in-store and face-to-face experiences online. Websites also have integrated live chat functions to provide easy assistance to staff.  

Customer service is not just conversation. It’s an essential part of the experience that your business offers consumers.

How to provide good customer service 

If you want to get an A+ in customer service, here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Prioritize convenience. Try to offer customer service 24/7. Integrate intelligent bots to your website so questions can be answered instantly. Use live chat so customers can easily reach out to knowledgeable staff. 
  • Create a delivery flowchart. Map out the customer service process through figures and diagrams to understand how service is delivered. Know where things can go wrong and provide alternatives in case of failure. 
  • Follow up regularly. Make sure customer issues are resolved through follow-ups and reviews. This is an excellent way to show customers that you’re a reliable business that actually cares. 
  • Personalize. Offer customer services through live chat, social media, and chatbots but don’t forget to get personal. Leverage customer data to provide personalized recommendations. Say “Hello!” and use people’s names. Build a brand voice through social media and integrate it into your omnichannel marketing. 
  • Listen. Make an active effort to listen to your customers’ problems. Ask questions and make clarifications to make sure that you’re on the same page. Empathize by saying, “I know exactly what it feels to have this experience” or “It’s unfortunate that this happened.”

What is customer experience?

Customer experience refers to the journey that customers will have with a brand. 

Customer Experience

It encompasses all interactions, including browsing products on a website, interacting with staff, making a purchase, reading promotional blog posts, and using your product.

This seems very broad and complex but it all comes down to customers’ perceptions and relationships.  A brand with a pleasant, cohesive, and consistent customer experience is likely to retain customers and achieve more customer loyalty over time. 

In fact, a study found that 86% of consumers are likely to pay more to receive a better customer experience. Additionally, customers who have enjoyed a good overall customer experience are three and a half times more likely to repurchase and five times more likely to recommend the company to friends and family than if they had a very poor experience.

Brands like Apple and Starbucks have mastered the art of customer experience. This is why hardcore fans will line up a day before the release of a new iPhone or Macbook. Starbucks has also gained a cult-like following by developing a cozy in-store atmosphere and delivering a seamless mobile experience.

Across various touchpoints in the customer journey, consumers build a relationship with the brand and form their own perceptions. The businesses that manage to build a seamless and positive experience eventually become industry titans. 

How to create a great customer experience

Consider these tips to upgrade your customer experience:

  • Reduce the steps. Minimize the effort it takes to make a purchase on your online store, app, or social media. It’s best when customers don’t have to exert a lot of energy to buy or to get issues resolved. 
  • Evaluate opportunities. There are a lot of software and CRMs that promise to streamline the process and boost results. Before availing of these shiny tools, think about whether they’ll be relevant to your customers or help you to achieve your goals.
  • Design well. Keep user experience in mind at every step of the entire customer journey. Create consistent branding throughout all your platforms such as social media, website, and email.
  • Monitor metrics. Try to measure customer satisfaction, conversion rate, average response, and other relevant metrics. Use research-backed data to upgrade your customer experience strategy. 
  • Upgrade your team’s capabilities. Crafting a positive customer experience is a team effort. If you want to get better results, schedule and monitor your team’s development through group training, coaching, and eLearning.

The difference between customer service and customer experience 

To summarize, what’s the difference between these two terms?

Customer experience is focused on the entire journey from pre-purchase to post-purchase. In contrast, customer service is solely limited to service interactions like asking for product information or reporting and solving issues. 

Businesses invest in building exceptional customer experience and customer service in the long term because both of them are essential to hitting sales targets and achieving customer success. Businesses that put customers first will ultimately gain a competitive advantage.  

What’s next for your customer service and customer experience?

If your company could use help with building an unforgettable and appealing customer experience, learn more about how our flexible and scalable software suite can support your sales and support efforts and improve customer experience and team-wide productivity.

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