Customer Service Versus Customer Experience

What’s the Difference Between Customer Service and Customer Experience?

Customer service and customer experience (CX) are two terms that are easy to mix up. We often hear the two used interchangeably, when in fact these customer interaction types are completely different processes.

Here, we take a look at the difference between customer service and customer experience — in terms of their definition, KPIs, and best practices. And how the two work together to help brands create a loyal customer base

What is customer service?

Customer service is the method of managing and interacting with customers when they come to you via a query or a complaint.

Your customer service agents and managers are primarily responsible for your company’s customer service. But they can be aided by tech and AI solutions that help them offer the best possible customer service.

What makes good customer service?

Omnichannel support

Customers should be able to access customer service via their preferred method of communication. Your team should be available on the phone, via email, via video call, on live chat, and through social media channels. You can also provide a customer-facing knowledge base so customers can seek answers themselves.

Fast responses and solutions

Customers should always get a quick response to their question or issue. That means having the right customer service software — and the right agents.

Customer service representatives need to have excellent knowledge of your product or service. They should also feel empowered to solve customer issues without having to involve a senior member of staff. Increasing First Contact Resolution (FCR) also tends to positively impact CSAT scores.

Putting the customer first

Good customer service requires excellent people skills. Customer service agents need to empathize with whatever problem has led a customer to seek their help and advice. In every interaction, they have to treat customers as individuals and demonstrate how much your brand values them.  

What customer service metrics should you be tracking?

If you want to measure the success of your customer service, you need to look at a few key customer service metrics.

  • Average call waiting time – no one wants to be left on hold and a speedy answer makes your customer feel valued.
  • Proportion of answered calls/chats/messages – customers who don’t wait for you to respond are a missed opportunity; you don’t get the chance to make a sale or prevent a cancellation.
  • First contact resolution – the proportion of customers who have their problem solved in their first interaction.
  • Average resolution time – how long it takes your customer service agents to solve customer problems.
  • Customer satisfaction score (CSAT) – what customers have to say about the customer service they’ve received.

What is customer experience?

Customer experience is the net result of every interaction a customer has with your brand, across every available touchpoint, and throughout the entire customer journey.

It’s the emotions they feel, the opinions they hold, and their level of engagement in relation to your brand.

These feelings and impressions are created by:

  • The people who represent your brand.
  • The product(s) or service(s) you sell.
  • The process by which you sell and promote those products or services.

As such, CX involves many different customer-facing moments and company departments.

What makes a good customer experience?

Addressing every touchpoint

Any time a customer comes into contact with your brand, they should get the same great experience. CX is based upon:

  • Your brand image and values.
  • Store design and usability (both digital and physical).
  • Customer interactions with your website and apps.
  • The quality and value of your blog and social media content.
  • Testimonials, reviews, and PR related to your brand.
  • The customer service customers receive.
  • The quality of your products and services, as well as the methods via which you deliver them.
  • The quality and reliability of your communication throughout the purchasing process and beyond.
  • Post-purchase follow-up in the form of product/service tutorials, feedback requests, and ongoing outreach.

All of these interactions affect your CX. Understanding what a customer wants and needs at each of these touchpoints is key to delivering an experience that will have them coming back for more.

Seamless interactions

As a customer moves between different touchpoints, they’re looking for a seamless experience.

This means providing personalized, omnichannel interactions.

For example, if a customer who’s previously called you then messages you on Instagram at a later point, your agents should have access to this previous interaction as well as their preferences and behavior and use this to inform this new experience with your brand.

Seamlessness also means reducing pain and friction points.

Customers should find it easy to navigate your website, they shouldn’t have to wait around for an in-store staff member to serve them, and they should be able to find transparent information to self-serve when they don’t need to speak to an agent.

What CX metrics should you be tracking?

Want to assess your CX? Take a look at these KPIs:

  • Net promoter score (NPS) – whether a customer thinks highly enough of your brand and their experience with it to recommend you to someone else.
  • Customer churn rate – how frequently your customers cancel their subscriptions or stop buying from you.
  • Conversion rate – the number of leads that convert into customers.
  • Customer reviews – straight from the horse’s mouth, get insight into the good and bad of your customer experience.
  • Average customer lifetime value (CLTV) – how much a customer tends to spend with you and therefore how loyal to your brand they are.

The difference between customer service and customer experience

Both customer service and customer experience are really important to the success of your business. But what separates one from the other?

Let’s take a look at the difference between customer service and customer experience.

Holistic vs. specific

When we compare customer experience and customer service, we see that the former encompasses the entire customer journey. The latter, in contrast, is a time-bound moment within that overall journey.

Customer service is one, specific, part of the customer experience. It’s the support a customer gets or how quickly a problem is resolved by your call center team. And it’s not something every customer actually experiences.

Customer experience is a holistic part of your business operations. It involves your customer service and shop floor teams (if applicable), but also quality control, sales, marketing, product design, and so much more. It’s something your customers experience at every stage of the funnel.

Ongoing vs. finite

A customer service interaction is a defined event. It has a beginning, middle, and an end: when the customer ends the interaction because you’ve (hopefully) answered their question or resolved their problem.

Customer experience is an ongoing relationship. It starts before a customer buys from you and lasts long after they’ve made a purchase. And as CX is tied up with the emotion a customer feels towards your brand, it’s something that exists even when they’re not directly interacting with your company.

Proactive vs. reactive

As a general rule, customer service representatives react to customer issues. It’s the customer who initiates the interaction and your employees who respond.

In contrast, CX is a proactive process. It’s all about anticipating the needs of customers; understanding and addressing customer pain points — before they even arise.

At every step of the way, CX is used to craft the customer journey and leave a great impression of your brand.

Similarities between customer service and customer experience

We’ve covered the differences between customer service and customer experience. But it’s worth noting a few similarities too.

Both involve putting the customer first

The customer lies at the center of both good customer service and CX. It’s all about providing customers with the service they want and need.

To do this, you have to understand your customers, you have to offer personalization, and you need to develop a customer-centric company culture.

Both improve customer loyalty

Research shows that good customer service and customer experience are crucial for retaining customers and creating brand advocates.

They’re both a lot easier when you have the right tech

Tech is the secret to successful customer service and CX.

With the help of these tools, you can offer cutting-edge CX and customer service, while building an effective and lucrative customer-centric business model.  

Want to better serve your customers? Dixa brings all your customer interactions together in one intelligent interface, creating seamless and satisfying experiences across all channels and devices. Book a demo today to take your CX and customer service to the next level.


Mia Loiselle

Mia believes a brand is only as good as its customer service. She explores customer experience strategies, best practices, and trends in her writing for Dixa, where she’s Head of Content.

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