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Customer Service Vs. Customer Experience: Not Exactly The Same

You might’ve never wondered about the difference between customer service and customer experience since many people and even support agents use these terms interchangeably.  They go hand in hand, but they are not the same. Knowing the differences and similarities will make it easier for you and your job performance.

What Is Customer Service?

Customer service refers to the support you give your customers before, during, and after they purchase a product or service. The interaction can occur in various ways, such as phone calls, emails, text messages, live chats or in-person conversations. The main focus of customer service is helping customers solve their problems and fulfill their needs immediately during and after purchase. 

Customer service is more than just sending responses. It’s crucial to understand that customer care can make or break the relationship with customers. The point is to go beyond expectations to solve customer problems and provide them with the best solutions.

What Is Customer Experience?

Customer experience (CX), on the other hand, refers to how the business engages with customers at every step of the buying journey. This includes everything from browsing a website, purchasing a product or service, and receiving customer care. It’s the sum total of all customer interactions that the customer has with your product, service, or brand. 

Customer experience is ongoing, and every exchange impacts how the customer perceives the business. Good experiences foster brand loyalty and retention. A good CX drives competitive advantage and companies that can deliver an exceptional experience stand out from the competition.

Customer Service vs. Customer Experience: Which One Is More Important?

Both play crucial roles in any customer-oriented business. Memorable experiences and good services are strongly intertwined. Even though it is isolated and more oriented, customer service is part of CX and heavily impacts your customers’ perception of the brand. It is vital since it directly affects customer satisfaction and can turn negative experiences into positive ones.

Customer experience, on the other hand, plays a long-term role in creating customers’ overall perception of the brand. Think of CX as a broad, all-encompassing term for all customer interactions. You might have ticked all the boxes on the CX checklist, but if customers don’t get the support they need when they need it, they may leave for good.

All in all, one can not exist without the other. Businesses should not consider which is more important or which one to choose but rather strive to provide exceptional customer service as a strongly influential force of an outstanding customer experience.

Holistic Experience vs. Specific Interaction as Key Differences

Customer service is more specific. It is a step of CX’s journey. Some customers might need to skip customer service as a step, and some might need more than one interaction to get the whole picture. Customers will ask to solve issues, and customer service will play its part confidently and in the best way possible. So, it involves the work of customer-facing departments and usually involves one or two touchpoints. To wrap it up, it refers to a particular customer interaction with a business. 

Customer experience, as a result, involves numerous factors and touchpoints, along with multiple departments, that need to be involved for a positive CX. It requires discovery and awareness of the business, the whole purchase process, and hopefully repeated purchases.

Maybe not every customer journey is the same, but all involve more than one interaction with a business.

Reactive vs. Proactive

Customer service is mainly initiated by the customer. If we break it down even further, selling reactively means you nearly always have to wait for the prospects to respond and make requests in their own time. The customer faces a challenge and reaches out through their preferred channel. Still, it does not mean that no strategy is included. The qualities mentioned above can reinforce the interaction in a positive and welcoming way.

Customer experience is proactive because it engages prospects, asks questions, and makes the right recommendations. It is all about anticipating the needs of the customer. Constantly working to improve brand experience and ensuring customers run as few problems as possible through website analytics, customer feedback, and customer journey mapping.

Responsibility

Customer service is a collaborative effort, however, for the most part, it is the responsibility of customer service managers and agents. Every employee within the company has the opportunity to contribute and share in these responsibilities. However, it’s the support team’s primary task and accountability to deliver excellent customer support.

However, customer experience is a shared responsibility among those who work within the company/organization. Each employee plays a crucial role in determining what kind of experience the customers might have. Therefore, each is in charge of providing customers with a great experience across all touchpoints.

Customer Service and Customer Experience Similarities

Although they differ in concepts, at their core, they share the same ground and rules for a better achievement. It all boils down to customer interaction on both sides, and here are their similarities in that context.

Shared purpose

Since customer service is a piece of CX, there is common ground, and they both have the same goal. They both aim to support the customer in their buying journey and beyond with the purpose of conversion, retention, and loyalty. Customer service focuses on problem-solving, and CX covers the whole process cycle. Still, their meeting point is customer satisfaction.

Customer centric-focus

Both customer service and customer experience prioritize customers’ needs and preferences. Whether resolving their issues or creating positive interactions, both parties remember that customers are the center of business operations.

The same skill sets

In customer service and customer experience, great communication skills are needed for the best outcome. Good knowledge of your audience and empathetic responses to their concerns are key to the customer experience. Marketing, sales, and PR all contribute to this. Knowing to whom you’re speaking makes the job easier for both parties (agent and prospect).

Qualities To Embody a Stronger Mindset in CX and Customer Service

Customer service and customer experience can be challenging fields, especially in the aspect of rejection and never knowing the reaction you’re going to get. However, there are personal tools you can develop to overcome those challenges and not let it discourage you.

Empathy

Putting yourself in others’ shoes is an amazing quality to integrate, no matter which area of your life. But it works wonders, especially in sales. People love to be heard and seen and you can use this powerful tool. Use it wisely, though; do not let it drain you.

Personalization

Personalization refers to tailoring your interaction to meet the characteristics of each customer individually. It is about making the customer feel understood and special. Basic information goes a long way, such as remembering their name or your last conversation together.

Clarity

Being clear makes your relationship with your customers easier. You should be able to convey your message in a friendly, simple manner so that the customer can clearly understand what you are trying to sell.

Centralized technology stack

Connecting data from several points and having a central view of customer interactions can enhance customer service and CX. Amazing practical examples include using AI to track customers’ feelings in real time or implementing chatbots on your website.

Continuous improvement

It’s common to experience rejection in this field. However, instead of getting discouraged, you can use it as a tool to improve after every interaction. Take the opportunity to learn from every customer conversation. By adopting this kind of mindset, you will stay motivated and reach your goals faster.

Letting the wrong customers go

It might seem challenging and fearful to let customers go. However, it’s important to notice and accept when there is nothing left to give or receive from your customer. This will save you time and lead you to better opportunities. Prioritizing  long-term success, sustainability, and longevity in your customer relationship is essential.

Ending Thoughts

Although they are different concepts, customer service, and customer experience always work side by side to deliver memorable experiences and reach their shared goal. A simple goal: attract happy customers loyal to your brand and will advocate for your business to others.