Customer Experience vs. Customer Service (The Ultimate Answer)

When first hearing about customer experience and customer service, some people might fall into the mistake of grouping them as one. Although interconnected, both terms stand for different things. 

Customer experience is the overall customer journey, covering all steps of the customer’s contact with the brand and their interactions. Customer Service is one aspect of that experience, focused on direct contact between the brand and the customer to assist the customer with his necessities. Both differ in these main aspects: 

Customer Experience Customer Service 
Holistic experience  Specific experience 
Proactive Reactive 
Ongoing Isolated 
Broad An aspect of the CX (customer experience) 

Customer Experience vs. Customer Service – Breakdown 

  1. Holistic Experience vs. Specific Experience 

Customer Experience is extensive as it covers multiple touchpoints of customers’ journey. On the other hand, customer service covers only a specific touchpoint of that journey regarding customers’ need for assistance. 

  1. Proactive vs. Reactive 

Customer Experience is proactive as it focuses on anticipating customers’ needs through all the touchpoints of the journey, and it works to make the customers’ journey as seamless as possible. 

Customer Service comes as a response tool for any bumps the customers might encounter in their journey, thus reactive. 

  1. Ongoing vs. Isolated  

Customer experience is an ongoing process. It doesn’t stop as long as the customer is in touch with the brand, whether directly or indirectly; Mainly because brands are always on display. 

Customer service is an isolated event in the ongoing process that is the customer experience. 

  1. Broad vs. An Aspect Of The Cx 

One of the most telling differences between them is that customer experience is so broad that customer service is just an aspect of it. Though an important one. 

Which Is More Important Customer Experience or Customer Service? 

It’s undeniable that customer experience and customer service are of much importance for a brand’s progress. Good customer service is indispensable for customer satisfaction. When it does happen, it’s a step that leaves a lasting impression on the customers about the brand, thus influencing the brand’s reputation. 

It’s safe to say that customer service’s role is pretty secondary compared to that of the customer experience. the broad aspect of the customer experience and the fact that it’s extensive and involves so many other factors from different moments of the customer’s journey makes it stand out as even more indispensable. 

Nowadays, in how customers operate and with the demands and expectations that new customers have, it’s hard to imagine a brand standing solely based on their customer service. There are many other new factors that customers care about now and that determine their overall impression of the brand, and most of them dismiss direct contact with the brand’s employees. 

Besides their differences, it’s interesting to notice many similarities in what customers expect of brands and their teams in both processes. 

Similarities Between Customer Experience and Customer Service 

Either for a good customer experience or a good customer service, brands and employees should focus their efforts in: 

  1. Communication

Probably the main point in both processes. Brands need to master their communication skills. For a good customer experience, brands should effectively communicate their mission and value through the customer journey, expressing their brand and product’s identity. 

Now, for good customer service, employees have to communicate the brand’s values and identity in the way they interact with the customer. They should also possess good communication skills. Assuming that some of it can be self-service, even then, the channel needs to reflect the brand’s identity and ideals. 

  1. Listening 

Brands need to listen to their customers’ (feedback) to improve their experience and adjust it to the customers’ taste. They also need to listen to their team and employees, as employee satisfaction is also an important factor that may influence customer experience.

Customer service agents need to have excellent listening skills to better aid the customer with their concerns. 

  1. Empathy

In both processes, empathy is crucial, potentially ruining or saving the customer’s overall experience. When designing their customer experience, brands should empathize with the customers’ perspective by anticipating any possible pain points in their journey to fix them. 

Customer service also should be based on empathy. Agents need to empathize with customers’ struggles and their needs. 

  1. Customer Centricity 

Both processes need to be highly customer-centric for better chances of them being successful and generating customer satisfaction. 

  1. Humility 

In both cases, humility is indispensable to allow both the brand and employees to learn from the experiences that they go through. Brands should be open to recognize their weaknesses and mistakes and learn from all situations and everyone (customers and employees). 

Customer service agents should recognize their flaws and learn from their superiors and customers. Also, a humble posture when interacting with a customer, as opposed to an arrogant one, is more pleasing and preferable when dealing with angry customers. 

  1. Positivity 

Good customer experience managers always set the tone of positivity around them and encourage everyone to rise above the adversities. 

Good customer care agents should also do their best to keep a positive attitude and a positive mindset when dealing with customers. 

  1. Responsibility 

Responsibility gives both the customer experience manager and the customer service agent a sense of accountability for the tasks and issues they need to handle. This mindset takes them closer to solutions as they treat matters as their own.

  1. Organization

Good customer experience can only happen where there is organization and planning. Brands and their teams need to map and organize their strategy properly to satisfy their customer. 

Customer service also needs an organized base structure with organized agents or channels. Pre-planned checklists of standard procedures are also vital as they are an excellent guide to customer satisfaction.

  1. Adaptability 

Both customer experience and customer service have a great deal of unexpected. Brands and employees need to be as adaptable as possible to better navigate unexpected situations and come out on top. 

  1.  Team-Player 

Whether in customer service or customer experience, all teams need to have a team-player mindset for good relationships within them and for a seamless work dynamic. 

  1.  Stress Management 

Dealing with customers and issues related to them can be stressful at times. Customer experience managers and their teams need to deal with stress that might come from unexpected situations. 

Customer service agents need to handle stressful situations as their task implies dealing with customer issues and sometimes unsatisfied customers.  

Table of Similarities Between CX and CS

Similarity Factor Customer Experience (CX)Customer Service (CS) 
Communication -Effectively communicate the brand’s mission and values. -Agents who possess good communication skills. -Channels that reflect a brand’s mission and values. 
Listening -Listen to customers’ and employees’ feedback on their experience.-Listen to customers’ requests and concerns.
Empathy -Anticipate any pain points in customers’ journey.-Empathize with customers’ struggles and needs. 
Customer Centricity -Focused on the customer.-Focused on the customer.
Humility -Open to learning from situations and everyone (customers and employees). -Humble posture, opened to learn from superiors and customers. 
Positivity -Set a positive tone and encourage employees.-Positive attitude when dealing with customers 
Responsibility -Have a sense of accountability. -Have a sense of accountability. 
Organization -Map customer experience and organize their strategy. -Organized base structure.-Plan checklists of standard procedures. 
Adaptability -Adapt to unexpected situations. -Adapt to unexpected situations. 
Team-player -Have a team-player mindset. -Have a team player mindset. 
Stress Management -Dealing well with stressful situations. -Dealing well with stressful situations and unsatisfied customers. 

How to Design Good Customer Care

Having already covered a guide to a good customer experience strategy in a previous blog post, I’ve decided to give you a small guide on how to design effective customer service too. 

The main points you should be focused on are: 

  1. Customer Satisfaction as End Goal 

Before anything else, when designing good customer service, the focus should be on the approach that will more likely result in customer happiness and satisfaction. 

  1. Design a Customer Service Journey Map 

This map should show you the journey your customer is likely to make after his purchase. To do it, you should analyze previous data from customers and conduct analyzes that will show you how your customers usually behave after the purchase and what kind of support they typically need. 

  1. Specify your goal 

Besides customer satisfaction and after analyzing your customers’ journey, what can you improve about your customer service? The answer to this question is what you should consider your specific goal. 

  1. Track your customer service 

Track your customer service and your progress towards your goal using Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), the customer satisfaction score (CSAT), net promoter score (NPS), first response time, first contact resolution, and other metrics. They show you how satisfied your customers are and how effective your service has been in issue resolution.

  1. Train Your Team 

Providing training to your team based on customer service principles and what’s expected of them as customer service agents is an important step in designing the best customer service possible. Your team will represent your brand to your customer through their interaction. You have to make sure that they represent it in the best light. 

  1. Create an Omnichannel System 

Don’t focus your customer service on only one channel. Combine many channels to give your customers many options from where to get help. 

Many companies combine live chat, phone support, social media, and e-mails. 

  1. Stay Tuned to Feedback 

Feedback is crucial for all strategies. Instruct your team to update you on the strategy that you’ve designed. 

Encourage your customers to give their feedback on their interaction with your customer service agents. For example, many brands ask their customers to rate their satisfaction right after a phone interaction with an agent and let them know if their issue was solved during the call. 

  1. Make The Necessary Changes 

Improve your customer service according to your team’s and your customers’ feedback. 

  1. Improve With Technology 

Use new technology to your advantage whenever possible. Customers appreciate innovation as long as it makes their experience easier. 

Customer Experience vs. Customer Service vs. Customer Care 

Customer care is yet another term that gets associated with customer experience and customer service. It’s very similar to customer service yet it goes beyond just responding to customers’ needs, and it focuses on actually caring for the customer. Beyond assisting them, it focuses on going all the way in finding solutions for the customer. 

Further Readings 

Customer Service vs. Customer Experience: Explained. HELP SCOUT 

The Difference Between Customer Service and Customer Experience. MERCHANTS CX

Emidio Amadebai

For the past 2 years, I have been working as the head of Customer Experience, Sales, Marketing, and Customer Finance at an international pay as you go solar home system company working in rural areas in Africa. After my previous 7 years working in B2B, IT&Telecoms industry, as a Service Delivery and Project Manager, having worked with Vodacom, Huawei, and other multinational companies. My job is to make sure we improve the lives of thousands of families, with access to electricity, utilities (radio, TV, lights), doing our very best so that they get the best-in-class customer experience, and succeed in acquiring the products for themselves.

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