We talk a lot about customer service and customer experience in our line of work. But what you may not know is that customer service and customer experience are not the same thing, even though they’re often used interchangeably.
So what exactly is the difference between the two?
What is the customer experience?
Customer experience is the journey a customer takes with your brand. It is made up of every single touch point and area of your business that a customer comes into contact with. For example, when a customer is looking for an answer to a question and they come across your blog, with valuable content that answers their question, they will most likely have a positive customer experience.
Now imagine that blog leads them to a product page where they browse some images and content before asking customer service some questions through chat, which leads to them ordering a product that is delivered a few days later. Each of those touch points make up the overall customer experience. The success of each stage and how easy it was for the customer determines whether that experience was a good or bad one.
Simply put, the customer experience includes everything from awareness through to retention and repurchase. That means every department needs to be involved if you want to have a fantastic customer experience.
In today’s world, the customer experience is often seen by consumers as the key differentiator between brands. That’s why many organizations look to outsource their customer experience and customer service program to an outsourced contact center.
What is customer service?
Customer service is the assistance and advice that your business provides to a customer.
While it typically involves human contact through phones, email and chat or in-person, this is not always the case. Self-service options also provide customer service. As contact center AI becomes more prolific, customer service can also be offered through chatbots and other automated tools.
You may have noticed that in our explanation of the customer experience we mentioned customer service. That’s because customer service is a touch point within the overall customer experience, though sometimes there can be multiple customer service interactions resulting in multiple touch points. Whether your customer service is good or bad will only be part of the equation when determining the success of your customer experience, though it usually plays a significant role.
Other differences between customer experience and customer service
There are a few other differences between customer service and the customer experience you should be aware of.1 - Customer experience is proactive
The customer experience is about anticipating the needs of your customer and helping them along the buyer's journey. Once a business develops their customer experience, they continue working on it as they see areas to improve upon.
Customer service, on the other hand, can often be seen as reactive. A customer has a problem or question so they reach out to your customer service team, where you have the opportunity to assist. Although this isn’t necessarily always true. A contact center should be able to work with your brand to implement a proactive customer service program that uses data and insights to predict customer pain points and answer their questions seamlessly.2 - The customer experience is ongoing
Customer service is an isolated event. It is quantifiable and can be measured by metrics such as average response time, resolution rate, average handle time and many other KPIs.
The customer experience is more holistic. It is about your entire relationship with that customer and is built up of several isolated events. The more they return, the longer their experience lasts.3 - The metrics are different
Overall customer service is measured using metrics like customer satisfaction scores, customer effort scores and net promoter score. While these metrics help you understand your customer experience, there are many other metrics involved, such as retention rate, lifetime value and churn rate - to name a few.
While customer service and customer experience are two distinct elements, it is important for you to focus on both. A great customer service experience can have a huge effect on your overall customer experience.
For more help understanding customer service and customer experience, or to find out how you can improve yours, contact us today.