Thursday, October 10, 2013

Customer Service or Customer Experience?

Image courtesy of Valerie Everett
Customer service or customer experience? Are they the same thing?

There's been a lot of talk about whether marketing and customer experience are one and the same or if they replace each other - you know, "Customer experience is the new marketing." Well, I have a bone to pick with that one, but this post is about yet another debate - one that I've written about before, and one that we should continue to define and discuss: the difference between customer service and customer experience.

Since this is Customer Service Week 2013, I thought it would be a great time to bring up this topic again and to shout from the rooftops: "Customer service and customer experience are not one and the same!"

When I wrote about this topic before, it was because I was flabbergasted by how many job listings claimed the title of Customer Experience This or Customer Experience That. Ironically, the postings were really sales positions or call center/customer service jobs. And sadly, many of the job descriptions never even mentioned the customer! How can that be?

Yes, customer service is a role (e.g., customer service rep), and it is a discipline (i.e., it's everyone's job to deliver great service). And customer experience is a role (e.g., VP of Customer Experience) and a discipline (i.e., it's everyone's job to ensure the customer has a great experience).

So why can't sales or customer service roles hold Customer Experience titles? Let me elaborate by starting with some definitions.

What is customer experience? In its simplest definition, it is (a) the sum of all the interactions that a customer has with a company over the course of the relationship lifecycle and (b) the customer's feelings, emotions, and perceptions of the brand over the course of those interactions.

Customer service? It's just one of those interactions or a type of interaction.

Another way to look at it: customer experience is what the customer feels; customer service is what the company does (for the customer).

Still not convinced? How else can you tell the difference?

Map the customer journey - from the customer's perspective - and plot all the ways in which the customer touches or interacts with your organization. Yea, the touchpoints. They are parts of the experience - a point in time - but they are not the sum total experience.

Customer service starts where customer experience fails. -Chris Zane

17 comments:

  1. A simple concept well explained, thank you.

    We have a need to use new and exciting words because they "sound good" and show how clever we are. Though in reality it shows exactly the opposite.

    Empty vessels make the most noise

    James

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    1. Thanks, James. And you make a great point.

      Annette :-)

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  2. Hi Annette,
    Thanks for a very useful article. Personally, I see customer service as part of a customer's experience.

    Adrian

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    1. Thanks, Adrian. It seems like a simple enough concept, though many still disagree.

      Annette :-)

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  3. Great post Annette, explained really clearly.

    Everyone loves a growth area as testified by the social media "experts"! A great point of reference for those confused by service vs experience.

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  4. Great article, by the way, excerpts of this will appear in my eService that is going out this week! thanks

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  5. Great post Annette. Your followers might be interested in this as an additional perspective http://ijgolding.com/2013/10/23/customer-service-or-customer-experience-what-exactly-does-customer-experience-mean/

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    1. Thanks, Ian, for sharing that post. I loved the story you told to get the point across. Absolutely worth the read!

      Annette :-)

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  6. I love great customer service! It makes everything and that product that much better!
    Pogo Help

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  7. Great article, Annette!

    While I agree, there's some simple concepts at play in the difference between Customer Service and Customer Experience, organizations that understand the nuances between the two are the ones that get it right.

    Customer Service speaks to delivery at a particular "moment of truth"; Customer Experience strategically guides your customer to an "ultimate truth" about your brand.

    To echo your article a bit, Customer Service sends a message about who your organization is, what it stands for; Customer Experience represents the message that's been received by your customer -- it's the belief they've formed through a sum of interactions.

    It's cyclical: Interactions --> Beliefs --> Actions, repeat.

    After every service interaction I form a belief about your brand; repeated experience solidifies that belief/those beliefs about what you stand for; what I believe ultimately informs "if" and "how" I'll interact with your brand.

    Pulled apart, they're absolutely simple concepts, sure. But overall CX vs CS is a strategic nuance that's driven by leadership.

    Randy Nanjad

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    1. Thank you, Randy. I appreciate your detailed thoughts on this. I cannot disagree. :-)

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  8. Very well said, customer service and customer experience are really different.

    For me customer service is just a representative of a product/service who interacts and assist to customers regarding the inquiry, billing and resolving issues.

    Customer experience is about how customer feel or react when they patronizing the product/service.

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