Is Customer Service the Same as Customer Experience?

Although often used interchangeably, customer service and customer experience, while closely related, are not the same. In the recent past, providing good customer service meant companies delivered on their promises. Today, with the increase in the number of customer touchpoints and opportunities for interaction, good customer experience is no longer a matter of simply providing good customer service. So, what exactly is the difference between customer service and CX?

Customer Service Defined
The advice and assistance a company provides customers before, during and after a purchase is customer service, and the goal is to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. These interactions are reactive in that they occur when a customer contacts a business with an issue or question. In other words, the customer initiates the interaction. Today, consumers expect customer service to be available at any time, and through a myriad of channels – both on and off line. In response, companies are increasingly investing in ways to improve customer service processes, including response times and first call resolution. Customer service also functions as a last chance to turn a potentially negative experience into a positive one.

CX Defined
According to Forrester, customer experience is defined as “how customers perceive their interactions with your company.” CX is the sum of every experience – at every touchpoint – throughout the customer lifecycle. This includes everything from browsing a website to receiving customer support. Customer experience is not limited to the number of interaction mediums, nor is it a one-off experience.

Whereas customer service is reactive (initiated by the customer), customer experience is proactive. There are steps companies can take in order to optimize the customer journey before the customer becomes dissatisfied with the goal of forging long-term customer relationships.

For example, when you visit a restaurant, factors like how friendly the wait staff is, and how quickly they bring your food is customer service. By contrast, things like the restaurant’s cleanliness, the taste and quality of the food, the variety of menu options, atmosphere, prices, and how you feel while eating there make up customer experience. Another example is how well an in-store representative answers a customer’s question (customer service) vs. the ease of navigating the store, the availability of desired products, the range of options available and the speed of checkout (customer experience).

At its most basic, customer service is about assisting customers and meeting their needs. While it helps to shape the overall customer experience, customer service doesn’t fully define it.

The Importance of Both CX and Customer Service
According to McKinsey, companies focused on providing a superior experience across customer journeys realized a 10-15 percent increase in revenue and a 20 percent increase in customer satisfaction. Obviously, it makes sense to invest in ways to improve customer experience. But doing so shouldn’t come at the expense of customer service, since the two are fundamentally linked. In short, businesses can't afford to ignore either customer service or customer experience. 

To learn more about how you can improve customer experience in order to increase customer loyalty, contact ASK today.