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Published On: September 30th, 2021|Tags: |3.7 min read|

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

Have you ever wondered what’s the difference between customer service and customer experience? When browsing various websites, you may notice that some people use these terms interchangeably. What do they actually mean, and how can they affect your brand?

Customer service and customer experience – what are they?

To discuss the main discrepancies between customer service and customer experience, it’s crucial to understand both terms. Although they aren’t the same, they are related.

What is customer service?

Customer service denotes all activities and pieces of advice provided to potential buyers interested in your offer. A professional customer service team member is patient, has profound knowledge of your range, and is able to communicate in a coherent way that corresponds to the customers’ needs.

What is customer experience?

On the other hand, customer experience (CX) involves the entire customer journey and all interactions between your brand and the buyer. Therefore, customer service is only a part of the customer experience. 

Customer experience is shaped by virtually all elements the buyer has contact with. It can be a scent in a store, uniforms of your employees, decorations, location, and, of course, satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with the purchased goods.

Additionally, when talking about online stores, it’s important to take into account aspects such as page layout, loading time, localization, the time needed to receive a response to an inquiry, graphics, transparency as well as available shipping options or payment methods.

When talking about customer experience, it’s possible to distinguish three different components:

  • customer service – it includes customer support, self-service support, and customer success. These are the points of interaction between the buyer and your employees.
  • technology – meaning the product/service itself. Are the functionalities satisfactory? Does everything work properly?
  • design – this component relates to all visual aspects that affect the decision-making process of potential customers. Think about your marketing strategy and brand image.

Interestingly, it’s frequently stated that customer experience is created based on the three Ps principle:

  • people – it’s natural that buyers appreciate polite employees who are willing to help them and find time to resolve any doubts.
  • product – when it comes to money, we always want to make sure that we invest wisely. It doesn’t really matter if you buy a T-shirt that costs $15 or $50 – deep inside you hope that it won’t wear out after a single wash.
  • process – let’s be honest, we all have too much on our plates. Therefore, when shopping, we expect transparent, customer-friendly solutions. That’s why we choose stores with a variety of shipping options or payment methods.

Customer service vs customer experience

Customer service is only a part of the entire customer journey, whereas customer experience is related to the general experience the buyer has with a given product or service.

At this point, it’s important to mention that a company has full control only over aspects related to customer service. As a business owner, you can properly train employees, monitor the entire shopping process, and ask customers for feedback. The quality of customer service is determined solely by the quality and level of engagement of your specialists.

On the other hand, customer experience is affected by numerous aspects you don’t have any impact on. For example, if you run an online store and ship goods, they might get damaged in transportation. Of course, in such situations, most buyers will probably contact you directly and ask for a refund or a new product, but there are people who will feel so discouraged that they will never interact with your brand again.

The situation looks similar when products are distributed by various suppliers and can be purchased in numerous brick-and-mortar stores that aren’t managed by your company. Even seemingly unrelated aspects such as music or scent in the store, combined with long lines or unsatisfactory support, may affect customer experience and deter potential buyers from finalizing the transaction.

It’s worth keeping in mind that customer service doesn’t equal customer experience. Although these terms have a lot in common, they shouldn’t be used interchangeably. Do everything in your power to improve both these aspects and boost your brand loyalty. After all, satisfied customers are likely to stay with you for longer and shop more.

Wondering how the ongoing pandemic has changed customer experience? Check out our blog entry!

Customer Experience PrinciplesWhat Are Customer Experience Principles? 5 Examples and Strategy
How to measure customer experienceHow to Measure Customer Experience? 10 Metrics

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