Customer Service vs Customer Experience: Key Differences (2023)

Customer service and customer experience are two terms that get thrown around a lot in business, but their definitions can be elusive.

The phrases are often used interchangeably, but in reality they are different things.

Put simply, customer service is one part of a holistic customer experience.

Customer experience refers to the complete journey a customer takes with your brand, from initial awareness to post-purchase care.

Customer service refers to a single event when a customer reaches out for help and support during this journey.

Both are equally important contributors to the success of your business.

You can’t do one one well without the other, which is why it’s so important to know what they are and how they are different.

(Video) Customer Service vs Customer Experience: Key Differences

In this post, we take an in-depth look at the customer service vs customer experience question. We'll cover:

  • What is customer experience?
  • What is customer service?
  • The key differences between customer experience and customer service
  • How to succeed at both

Customer Service vs Customer Experience: Key Differences (1)

What is customer experience?

As mentioned, customer experience (CX) refers to the entire journey a customer takes with your business.

It's a key brand differentiator and an important factor in the success of a business.

In fact, SuperOffice reports that customers spend 140% more and remain loyal for up to 6 years when they rate a brand highly for customer experience.

CX involves many touchpoints and engagement channels across multiple departments.

Imagine your company is a retail business that specialises in selling fashionable trainers.

Here’s an example of a simple customer experience journey in that scenario:

  1. A potential customer searches for ‘best trainers of 2020’ in Google and comes across a blog post from your company titled ‘Ten Trendiest Trainers of 2020’. They click the link to be taken to the post on your site.
  2. Whilst reading the post, a pair of trainers on the list really catches their eye, so they click the internal link to arrive on the product page.
  3. At this stage, they aren’t sure if they want to buy the trainers, so they leave your site.
  4. A few days later, they are browsing Facebook when they see a targeted advert for your business.
  5. They click the advert to be taken back to the trainers’ product page. This time they decide to make a purchase.
  6. When placing the trainers in their basket, they wonder if they can be bought in blue and white, as well as the traditional red and white, so they initiate a live chat using the chat widget on the web page to ask a customer service advisor.
  7. After chatting and understanding the customer’s enquiry, the advisor escalates the live chat to a video chat interaction to show the customer the trainers in different colours.
  8. The customer is happy with the further information and thanks the advisor - the interaction ends.
  9. After seeing the trainers in different colours, the customer opts for the blue and white version. They edit their basket accordingly and complete their purchase.
  10. A few days later, the trainers are delivered. The customer is very happy with the product and their experience with your brand, so they continue to purchase trainers and accompanying accessories from you in the future.

In this example, the customer had multiple touchpoints with the business (blog, website, social media, live chat, video chat), and encountered the work of different departments (marketing, customer service, sales) to complete their customer journey.

(Video) Customer Service vs. Customer Experience The REAL Difference

Each step of the journey made up the overall customer experience.

The key to creating an optimal customer experience is making sure all the touchpoints are linked, allowing customers to jump between them.

Customer Service vs Customer Experience: Key Differences (2)

What is customer service?

Customer service refers to the customer support function of a business.

It’s the help and advice offered to customers when they have a question or an issue concerning your product or service.

Unlike customer experience, customer service is an isolated event and only involves customer-facing departments.

It typically involves human contact with brands, but as artificial intelligence becomes more advanced, we are seeing more and more automation involved in customer service too.

Chatbots, for example, are increasingly used by businesses to deal with FAQs and to direct initial enquiries to the right advisor.

Going back to the example used above, steps 6 and 7 of the journey saw the customer have contact with customer service.

(Video) Customer service vs customer experience

They reached out via live chat, and the advisor used their resources (in this case video chat) to best serve the customer and answer their question.

In this way, customer service makes up one part of the overall customer experience with a business.

That's why providing exceptional customer service is essential if you want to improve the customer experience.

Customer Service vs Customer Experience: Key Differences (3)

Key differences between customer service & customer experience

Now we know what customer service and customer experience are, let’s explore the main differences between them.

1) Holistic experience vs specific interaction

A major distinction in customer service vs customer experience is the number of touchpoints involved and the length of the interaction.

  • Customer experience refers to the entire customer journey. This encompasses discovery and awareness of a business, through to initial purchase and post-purchase care, to hopefully repeated purchases. As a result, it involves numerous touchpoints and means multiple departments need to be involved in creating a positive customer experience. Not every customer journey will look the same, but all will involve more than one interaction with a business. In this way, customer experience is holistic.
  • Customer service is part of customer experience: it’s one step of a customer’s journey. Some customers will not need to interact with customer service and others may need more than one interaction during their journey. The role of customer service is to support the customer by solving their issue, which improves their overall experience. This involves the work of customer-facing departments, and typically involves just one or two touchpoints. In this way, customer service refers to a particular customer interaction with a business.

Customer Service vs Customer Experience: Key Differences (4)

2) Reactive vs proactive

Another key difference between service and experience is who leads the process: is it the customer or is it the business? Is it reactive or proactive?

  • Customer experience is all about anticipating the needs of the customer. Through customer journey mapping, studying funnel drop-off points and website analytics, and asking for customer feedback, businesses constantly work to improve the brand experience and ensure customers don’t run into problems. Where needed, this could involve steering customers to initiate a customer service interaction. In this way, customer experience is proactive.
  • Customer service is nearly always initiated by the customer. The customer faces a problem so they reach out to a business’ support services via their preferred channel. In this way, customer service is reactive.

Customer Service vs Customer Experience: Key Differences (5)

3)Ongoing relationship vs isolated event

The last difference between customer service and customer experience is how they are measured and connected to other events.

  • Customer experience is all about the customer’s relationship with a business. It cannot be quantified or pinned down to one single event or interaction. In this way, customer experience is an ongoing relationship - if a customer keeps coming back to your business, their customer experience continues.
  • Customer service refers to a specific event, i.e. a customer reaching out for help and support, or making a complaint. As an event, it can be measured by a number of metrics, such as first time resolution rate and average response time. In this way, customer service is a quantifiable, isolated event.

Customer Service vs Customer Experience: Key Differences (6)

The takeaway: how to succeed at service & experience

Despite the differences between them, customer service and customer experience are inextricably linked.

(Video) The Key Difference Between Customer Service And Customer Experience

Ultimately, a business needs to succeed at both in order to thrive and foster lasting brand loyalty.

And in an increasingly saturated market, offering outstanding customer service and experiences is the only sure-fire way to stand out from your competitors.

But how can you ensure that your brand is able to meet these high standards?

You can start by investing in the right platform.

Talkative’s Consultative Service platform was specifically designed to power superior customer service and next-level, personalized experiences at every digital touchpoint.

We provide a complete suite of engagement channels including web calling, live chat, cobrowsing, video chat, social media messaging, and an AI-powered chatbot.

And you’ll be able to manage all customer interactions, from all channels, within a single pane of glass.

As a result, you and your customer advisors will be fully equipped to engage and convert more customers than ever before.

Want to see for yourself? Book a demo with Talkative today.

(Video) Customer Service Vs. Customer Experience


What are the key differences between customer service and customer experience? ›

The key difference between customer service and customer experience is that customer experience involves the whole customer journey, including customer service. Customer service is limited to the interactions a customer has when seeking advice or assistance on a product or service.

How would you distinguish between services and experiences? ›

Service resolves an issue, addresses a need, delivers the result you expected in the first place. Experience goes beyond. It creates lasting impressions, shareable moments, lifetime reminders. Both are important components of managing customer relationships.

What are the 3 key dimension of customer experience? ›

A customer experience (CX) strategy encompasses three dimensions, the three dimensions on which services can differ are: goals, breadth and depth, and is not to be confused with a CX plan, which is the execution of the strategy.

Why is customer experience bigger than customer service? ›

Customer service is just one part of the entire customer journey, while customer experience encompasses all the interactions between your brand and a customer. Within this high-level distinction, there are even more ways to distinguish CX from customer service.

What is customer service experience in simple words? ›

Customer service is the support you offer your customers — both before and after they buy and use your products or services — that helps them have an easy and enjoyable experience with you. Offering amazing customer service is important if you want to retain customers and grow your business.

What are the 4 components of service experience? ›

- To truly understand customer experience we have to understand the four components required to build one. There are archetypes, activities, interactions, and principles. An easy way to remember these is to think about the different parts of a relationship.

What are the 4 key characteristics specific to services? ›

There are four characteristics of service: Intangibility, Inseparability, Variability, and Perishability (Kotler and Keller, 2007). As service's nature is intangibility, therefore manufacturing and service delivery is more complex than a product.

What are the four 4 defining characteristics of services experiences that differentiate them from goods and products? ›

Services are unique and four major characteristics separate them from goods, namely intangibility, variability, inseparability, and perishability.

What are the 3 C's of customer service? ›

The three Cs of customer satisfaction: Consistency, consistency, consistency. It may not seem sexy, but consistency is the secret ingredient to making customers happy. However, it's difficult to get right and requires top-leadership attention.

What are the 6 pillars of customer experience? ›

Developed by KPMG Nunwood of the UK following research involving more than one million customers across three continents, the system spotlights six key principles as the building blocks for customer experience success: personalization, integrity, expectations, resolution, time and effort, and empathy.

What are the 5 customer service characteristics? ›

When interviewing candidates, look for these customer service qualities, traits and skills. Look for someone who is communicative, persuasive, is polite, patient, conscientious, and loyal.

How does customer service impact the customer experience? ›

Customer service can significantly impact the customer's perspective of overall experience. Reducing the level of effort required by the customer can increase the chances that a customer will be loyal — and failing to provide a low effort experience can just as easily fuel disloyalty.

What is an example of customer experience? ›

You can create a personalized customer experience example by sending unique gifts and products to your clients. It cultivates customer loyalty and wins over customer trust. Usually, it's pretty hard to know the interests of a first-time customer.

How does customer service influence customer experience? ›

Because the quality of service customers receive from brands fundamentally affects their perceptions of those brands. Therefore, consistently delivering excellent service ultimately results in a better customer experience, long-term loyalty, and sustainable business growth.

What are the 7 qualities of good customer service? ›

7 Must-Have Qualities of a Stellar Customer Service Rep
  • Problem-Solving Skills. The number one skill you need to excel in for good customer service is problem-solving. ...
  • Clear Communication. ...
  • Friendly Attitude. ...
  • Empathy. ...
  • Business Acumen. ...
  • Product/Service Knowledge. ...
  • Strong Time Management.

How do you define customer service best answer? ›

The short answer is, “making sure the customer is happy.” A longer answer is, “ensuring the customer or client is satisfied with the product or service provided.” Your interviewer wants to know what you consider quality customer service. They also want to know how you are willing to provide service to customers.

What are 2 important parts to the customer experience? ›

It results in their view of your brand and impacts factors related to your bottom line including revenue. The two primary touch points that create the customer experience are people and products.

What are the 4 most important customer service elements? ›

The 4 most important elements of excellent customer service
  • Respond in a timely manner. ...
  • Respond knowledgeably. ...
  • Communicate with customers where they are. ...
  • Streamline your process.
17 Apr 2020

What are the 3 categories of services? ›

Services are diversified in three groups; Business services, social services and personal services.

How will you satisfy your customer? ›

How To Satisfy Customer Needs?
  • Get to know your customer's needs.
  • Develop an in-house customer-first culture.
  • Customise the customer experience to meet your customer's needs.
  • Optimise the customer experience.
  • Measure and improve customer satisfaction.
23 Jul 2021

What are the two types of service? ›

Types of Services
  • Business Services. The services used by business organizations to conduct activities are known as business services. ...
  • Social Services. The services provided by an individual or a group of individuals voluntarily for the accomplishment of some social goals are known as social services. ...
  • Personal Services.
9 Jun 2022

What are the 5 main characteristics that differentiate services from products? ›

Services Characteristics: 6 Key Distinguishing Characteristics of Services
  • Intangibility: Services cannot generally be seen, tasted, felt, heard or smelt before being bought. ...
  • Inseparability: ...
  • Variability: ...
  • Perishability: ...
  • Heterogeneity: ...
  • Lack of ownership:

What are the 4 major differences between products and services? ›

Table showing the differences between a product and service
A product is tangible, it is physical and can be held, seen and movableA service is intangible, can only be felt and not touched
Product value is derived by the customerValue of service is offered by the service provider
8 more rows

What are the four 4 major differences between goods and services? ›

Goods are the material items that the customers are ready to purchase for a price. Services are the amenities, benefits or facilities provided by the other persons. Goods are tangible items i.e. they can be seen or touched whereas services are intangible items.

What are the top 3 most important elements of high customer satisfaction? ›

The three major factors that affect modern customer satisfaction can be categorized as customer perceived quality, value, and service. By harnessing these factors, you are able to provide positive, consistent customer experiences and create true customer loyalty.

How do you measure customer service? ›

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) is the most commonly used measurement for customer satisfaction. You ask your customers to rate their satisfaction on a linear scale. Your survey scale can be 1 – 3, 1 – 5, 1 – 7, or 1 – 10, and there's no universal agreement on which scale is best to use.

What are the three 3 Characteristics of customer engagement? ›

Creating an engaged customer community is, therefore, a key aim for brands and organisations across every sector.
What are the 4 key attributes of successful customer engagement?
  • Active customer engagement. ...
  • Emotional customer engagement. ...
  • Rational customer engagement. ...
  • Ethical customer engagement.
8 Apr 2014

What are the 8 principles of customer service? ›

Here is a set of 8 principles of customer service for your business to abide by:
  • Be accessible.
  • Be prompt.
  • Be clear.
  • Be transparent.
  • Prioritize quality over quantity.
  • Provide the human touch.
  • Learn the ins and outs of your product/service.
  • Be ready to go the extra mile.
18 Jan 2021

What are the 5 dimensions of customer service? ›

The five service quality dimensions are tangibility, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy.

What are the 3 foundations of excellent customer service? ›

Essentially, the 3 important qualities of customer service center around three “p”s: professionalism, patience, and a “people-first” attitude. Although customer service varies from customer to customer, as long as you're following these guidelines, you're on the right track.

What are the six professional qualities in customer service? ›

6 Essential Qualities of the Best Customer Service Reps
  • High emotional intelligence (EQ) ...
  • A positive attitude. ...
  • Flexibility and adaptability. ...
  • Clear communication skills. ...
  • Familiarity with (and passionate about) your products or services. ...
  • Problem-solving skills. ...
  • Conclusion.
5 Nov 2018

What is a good strength to have in customer service? ›

No list of good customer service skills is complete without empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand another person's emotions and to understand their point of view. How is empathy an important service skill? Consider that 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.

What are your top 3 qualities in delivering excellent customer service? ›

What Are Essential Customer Service Qualities Examples?
  • Delivering Respect to Your Customer. ...
  • Have Your Agents Practice Active Listening Skills. ...
  • Empathy: The Key to Customer Success. ...
  • Ability to Communicate Clearly With the Customer. ...
  • A Positive Attitude. ...
  • Be Patient. ...
  • Customer Service Agents Determined to Serve.
26 Apr 2021

What is the difference of product from services and experiences? ›

At the heart of it, the main difference is that a product business sells physical, tangible objects, whereas a service business provides value through intangible skills, expertise and time. The marketing techniques and costs vary when you're selling services versus selling products, as well.

How can you distinguish service? ›

Six key distinguishing characteristics of services are as follows: a.
Lack of Ownership.
  1. Intangibility: Services cannot generally be seen, tasted, felt, heard or smelt before being bought. ...
  2. Inseparability: ...
  3. Variability: ...
  4. Perishability: ...
  5. Heterogeneity: ...
  6. Lack of ownership:

What is the difference of experience and experienced? ›

Experience is time you spend doing or learning something. If you've had a job as a welder, you have welding experience. When someone is described as experienced, it means they have first-hand knowledge about something. An experienced teacher has been teaching for years.

What is the difference between experience and satisfaction? ›

One answer to this question is to recognize that customer satisfaction is captured as a point in time measure that relates to a range of time over which a product or service was procured while customer experience is a real time measure relating to the most recent touch point of a customer with your product or service.

What is customer experience and why is it important? ›

One of the best ways to do so is by prioritizing customer experience (CX). Customer experience focuses on the relationship between a business and its customers. It includes every form of interaction or communication with the customer, whether direct or indirect, even if it doesn't result in a purchase.

What are the 5 I's of services? ›

Intangibility, Inconsistency, Inseparability, Inventory and Involvement are five . Is of services.

What are the 3 basic types of service? ›

Services are diversified in three groups; Business services, social services and personal services.

What are the 3 levels of service? ›

Levels of service analysis

Consultation, communication and approval.

What are the three types of experience? ›

Types of learning experiences include group experiences either in-person or online/distance learning, individual experiences with self-study products, and blended experiences that include elements of both group and individual learning experiences.

What is the true meaning of experience? ›

: the fact or state of having been affected by or gained knowledge through direct observation or participation. : practical knowledge, skill, or practice derived from direct observation of or participation in events or in a particular activity.

What is difference between feel and experience? ›

What's experience? Simply put: it's knowledge in action. Fewer are able to share it but those that can are true experts. Above knowledge and experience, however, is feeling - the feeling of knowing and doing.

What are the two types of experience? ›

There are two kinds of experience, according to Locke: observation of external objects—i.e., sensation—and observation of the internal operations of the mind.

Is customer satisfaction part of customer experience? ›

Another way to put it is that customer experience doesn't rely on customer satisfaction, but customer satisfaction does rely on a good experience. If you neglect one over the other, it will throw things out of balance for your customers because then they may not know what is a good experience or a bad one.


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