June 6, 2019 Last updated June 5th, 2019 1,397 Reads share

Customer Service and Customer Experience: How Are They Different?

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Customer service and customer experience are often confused as synonyms. And if you’re a business owner, this confusion can hit your marketing strategies and results at large. Although, both terms aim to achieve the same result and have significant overlaps in the processes, the blueprint to achieve the same significantly varies.

In this blog, we will dive deeper and understand the differences between the terms and how it impacts the brand building strategies.

The Difference: Customer Service vs Customer Experience

  1. Customer experience is the cumulative experience of the customer with the brand, including all the points of contact between the brand and the customer. Unlike customer service, customer experience is not only restricted to conversations. Instead, it covers all the non-verbal aspects of the brand, including product design, ease of use, customer service, and loyalty programs.
  2. On the other hand, customer service is part of the customer experience cycle. It limits its scope to the interaction between the brand and customer and focuses on answering, understanding and serving the customers when they approach.

Role of Customer Experience

As already mentioned, customer experience is the end-to-end brand experience delivered to the customers, starting from the first direct or indirect contact. To understand it further, customer experience can be referred to as a proactive approach towards catering customers. This approach focuses on eliminating any possible customer issues, by understanding and outperforming customer’s expectations, beforehand.

As an example, let’s assume you own an airline company that has garnered customer’s trust in years. Traditionally, in such a case, your customer experience would have been focused on delighting customers with warm hospitality and providing a quality in-flight experience.

But, today, in the technology-led era,  your customer experience starts from the second your customer decides to use your company’s mobile app or website to search and book flights. If your mobile app fails to provide a seamless flight booking experience, then customers’ loyalty with the brand is guaranteed to dwindle, irrespective of how reputed your brand is.

Researches have also cited that 32% of customers will walk away from the brand after a single bad experience. And with the boom in the number of competitors in the market, switching away from one brand to another is a cakewalk. This means, regardless of how high-quality your product is, if your customer experience is not what defines your brand image, then your survival in the market will be a struggle.

How to Build a Positive Customer Experience

So, the important question is how to ensure a positive customer experience. Following the recent technological developments,

  1. It starts with embracing the technology changes and understanding customer patterns around it. Paying close attention to all the touch points between customers and brands influenced by technology. But, technology alone cannot drive the experience; it only catalyzes the process for a better experience.
  2. Human interactions are equally important in the process. To deliver exceptional customer experience, focus on upskilling and educating employees about your service and processes. Coupling the technological convenience with human touch provides knowledgeable assistance to the customers, and adds authenticity to the overall experience.
  3. Maintain a consistent customer experience throughout. Whether the customer is in research, pre-purchase, purchase or post-purchase phase or whether the customer is using your app, website or contacting an agent, irrespective of how and where the customer contacts, ensure to deliver a consistent experience and proactively cater to customers before they approach you with the queries.

When asked from customers, what constitutes as a quality customer experience, nearly 80% of the survey respondents in the sample of 4000 expressed –  speed, convenience and, knowledge and friendly service as the driving causes of positive customer experience.

Role of Customer Service

Customer service is an important component of the customer experience. It is the direct interaction between the customer and the company. And it does not work in isolation to customer experience. Instead, it decides the quality of your customer experience.

Customer service is a reactive approach where assistance gets provided in response to the customers’ queries. When a customer contacts the brand in search of a solution, it is the responsibility of the customer service department to acknowledge and resolve reported concerns at the earliest promptly.

Building amiable relationships with customers also come in the purview of customer service. The conversation provides an opportunity to hear and understand customer’s expectations in their words. Moreover, the information provided by the customers caters to a broad spectrum of customer experience ranging from simple technical glitches to the gap in product knowledge. Brands can utilize the provided information in improving the overall experience.

The famous multinational financial corporation, American Express, incorporated the above strategy to enhance the quality of services. It transformed the approach towards customer service from answering customer issues to understanding customer needs. This led to process advancement, policy alterations, and changes in adopted technologies. Consequently, it also led to a 400% increase in customer retention, allowing Amex to present itself as more than just a credit card company.

How to Deliver Exceptional Customer Service

When it comes to customer service, you should perceive it is a relationship building opportunity. The reasons why customers approach might vary. But, a fact which remains constant is that customers contact you in search of answers. And if they are unable to get an accurate solution timely and without any friction, then their brand loyalty will experience a huge dip. To avoid such cases, the customer service department should focus on,

  1. Promptly answering and resolving customer queries without keeping them on hold
  2. Providing self-help IVR options to let the customers handle small issues on their own
  3. Thoroughly educating customer service agents about the product or service
  4. Acknowledging the company’s mistake and compensating for the same
  5. Avoiding a rigid stance and lending an ear to understand the customer perspective
  6. Going the extra mile and providing proactive solutions to potential future issues

Shared Outcome: Customer Loyalty

The most shared outcome from customer service and experience strategy is customer loyalty.

Making the customer feel heard and acknowledged, dramatically deepens the customer’s loyalty towards your brand. Catering to customers qualitatively makes them your brand advocates among their colleagues and family. Also, it provides you with a competitive advantage, especially when customer experience and service have become the deciding factors for customers to make their final selection.


Manisha Mishra

Manisha Mishra

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