Customer Service vs Customer Experience: What’s the Difference?

A cartoon of a man on a headset helping out a customer, which depicts customer service vs customer experience.

Customer Service vs Customer Experience

Did you know that the majority of Americans have decided against making a purchase because of a negative customer service experience?

Your business could offer the very best product or service but never make a sale if your customer service and overall customer experience aren’t striking the right tone with customers.

So, what’s the difference between the two? And which is more important? 

These two buzzwords are often used interchangeably, but they are far from the same thing. In this article, we’re looking at what customer service is, what customer experience is, and how the two interact to create an overall start-to-finish journey for all your customers.

What is Customer Service?

Good customer service vs great customer service

Customer service refers to the help and support given by a customer service agent when a customer or potential customer reaches out for help with a specific query or problem. 

Any time a representative of the company is dealing directly with a customer, they are offering customer service. Today, customer service can be provided in a myriad of ways. It’s no longer just face-to-face contact with employees in stores. Good customer service can now look like: 

  • Asking for customer feedback
  • Answering a customer’s question promptly and resolving their issue
  • Providing them with resources or information they need to make a purchase
  • Using professional but friendly language

Regardless of industry, getting quick, accurate answers to questions using their preferred contact method shows customers that they’re dealing with knowledgeable professionals who value the customers’ time. Customers want their questions answered and their problems solved quickly and with as little effort on their part as possible. Making the process simple and intuitive is offering the very basics of good customer service.

Great customer service, on the other hand, creates a genuine emotional connection, creating loyal customers who will return time and again and perhaps even tell their friends about it. Great customer service often looks like: 

  • Having an omnichannel communication and marketing strategy to meet customers’ needs
  • Sending birthday wishes via email or text to customers
  • Prioritizing customer loyalty by remembering customers’ names and preferences
  • Free upgrades or free-of-charge extras
  • Providing free shipping to wrong a right
  • Having live chat support to be there 24/7 for your customers
  • Following up with customers after the sale or service has been provided

How to Provide Good and Great Customer Service

Listen intently and respond promptly

Customers want to feel heard. They want a friendly, kind, empathetic ear and a no-nonsense approach to problem-solving. Everyone has different requirements. Listen to their needs and find the right solution to fit each customer. Authorize customer service staff to take action so responses and resolutions can be expedited. The quicker and easier the outcome of any query is for a customer, the happier they’ll be. 

Provide specific times, prices, and resolutions

Staff must be authorized to provide specific details relevant to the customer inquiry. If a customer has an inquiry, make sure you’re equipped with the right information to provide them. This includes exact shipping/wait times, exact prices and fees, and a detailed description of the resolution to their problems.

Use professional language and maintain a positive attitude

Brand representatives must use appropriate language and maintain a calm, positive demeanor in all situations. Using the customer’s name in communications fosters a personal relationship with the customer. All responses should be clear and accurate and when tensions arise, it’s up to the customer service representative to remain calm and professional.

Keep your word

If an agreement is made, stick to it. Whether you’re helping out an interested potential buyer or dealing with a disgruntled and unhappy customer, going over the top to delight and impress a customer isn’t always necessary. The Harvard Business Review recommends keeping your efforts simple and to the point. Just keep every step of the way simple for the customer, follow through with any necessary actions, and a customer will appreciate it.

Metrics to Measure Customer Satisfaction

Now that you know the ways to provide both good and great customer service, are your customer service tactics actually paying off? How can you tell if your customer service strategies are working? The below are a few main metrics businesses use to measure customer satisfaction. 

  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) shows how satisfied the customer is with particular interactions with the company as well as their overall experience with the brand. 
  • Customer Effort Score (CES) rates how easily the customer found interactions with the company to be at any stage. Many offer a rating system with questions like, “How easy was it for you to find the answer to your query today?”
  • Customer Retention Rate (CRR) measures how many customers return to a company over a given period. 
  • Customer Churn Rate (CCR) measures how many customers stop doing business with a company over a given period. 

What is Customer Experience?

If customer service encompasses a single event or instance, customer experience is the customer’s perception of their entire relationship with the brand. This includes first impressions when hearing of/discovering the product, researching the product/service, seeing adverts, shopping for and purchasing products/services, as well as actually using them.

In short, it encompasses the entire lifecycle of a customer’s journey with a brand. 

How to Provide an Excellent Customer Experience

Reduce the amount of time or steps required

The easier the experience for the customer, the happier they’ll be in the long run. A lasting customer relationship doesn’t mean each and every one of their experiences with your business needs to be lengthy. Reduce the amount of effort that’s required by your customers at every touchpoint; they’ll be a lot more satisfied and appreciative of it!

User experience and optimized design 

Keep the user experience top of mind and optimize every process to make it as simple as possible for customers to either get in touch with you, make a purchase, or learn more. When you supplement your customer service with great user experience and optimized processes (both on and offline), your customers notice and, ultimately, return.

Follow up regularly

Using opt-in text or email communications is an ideal way to seek feedback and ensure the customer is satisfied with their experience. Follow up purchases with a review request and make the review process as simple as possible, too. Further proactive communications outlining future events, sales, discount offers, and relevant exciting news keep the customer engaged with the brand.

Personalize your interactions

Always use the customer’s name when interacting with them in any format. This reassures the customer that you’re taking a personal interest in their situation and that you genuinely care about meeting their needs. And in any live chat situation, remember not to come across as some automated chatbot.

Metrics Used to Measure Customer Experience (CX):

Just like customer service, there are metrics to measure the customer experience, including: 

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) measures how likely a customer is to recommend your brand to their family, friends, and colleagues. 
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is a prediction of future profit a customer would be expected to bring to a company over their entire business relationship. 

What’re the Main Differences Between Customer Service and Customer Experience?

1) All-encompassing experience vs. specific interaction 

  • Customer experience: Involves the entire customer journey and every interaction with the brand throughout the purchasing journey, including off-the-clock and social media interactions.
  • Customer service: Involves any customer support offered and includes one-off customer service interactions. Often happens post-purchase and involves offering the customer support with a specific need. 

2) Developing a long-term customer relationship vs fixing an isolated issue

  • Customer experience: Meeting the needs and expectations over the entire customer journey encourages brand confidence, and yields return customers with a high level of brand loyalty and long-lasting relationships.
  • Customer service: Often occurs by fixing or resolving a one-off incident such as fixing a price or other isolated events in which the customer is not a long-term or repeat customer.

3) Proactive support vs reactive support

  • Customer experience: Proactive support comes to the customer through follow-up texts, emails, etc., requesting customer engagement in the form of reviews, feedback, or offering future discounts.
  • Customer service: Reactive support usually comes in the post-purchase period and mainly deals with complaints or faults. Often occurs when a customer service representative or employee must right a wrong.

Provide an Excellent Customer Experience and Customer Service with ChatSupport

When seeking to improve customer experience and service, one thing is clear: People like to talk to people.

Live chat support is just one way to meet customers’ expectations for a great customer experience.

Try ChatSupport for free and discover how we can help you improve your customer experience and service!

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