Impact Learning Systems


The Difference Between Customer Service and Customer Experience Rachel Miller

As a customer experience advocate, it is common for me to be asked, “What is the difference between customer service and customer experience?” While the answer is quite lengthy, the short response is simply this: customer service is one element of customer experience. Customer experience encompasses every touch point that someone may encounter when interacting with a company – support, sales, and customer service. And there are many communication channels that combine to make a customer interaction with one of the three key touch points a positive experience. Consistent messaging across all channels and touch points is integral to successful customer experience and vital to company success.


When an individual sees an ad on TV, receives a direct mail piece, clicks on an ad, arrives on a landing page, views a video, receives a follow-up email, etc., etc., that individual should be having a seamless experience. The message, the look-and-feel, the offer, and the voice of the company should be consistent. Jim Sterne, Delivering a Consistent Customer Experience


What are the components that make up customer experience? Some are specific to the individual company, but here are some common touch points: TV, radio, print, direct mail, email, web-site, social media sites, retail locations, IVR (interactive voice response), call center, product or service. With such diverse communication channels available to customers, how is it possible to keeping messaging aligned to company goals and values?

3 Tips for Consistent Customer Experience

1. Invest in Your Employees
Investing in employees is not only securing their individual success, but also investing in the long-term success of your organization. One of the most cost-effective ways to ensure consistent customer experiences, reduce employee turnover, and increase employee engagement is on-the-job training. Improving product or service knowledge and the communication skills of all employees is essential to consistent brand messaging. When an employee has a firm understanding of company goals, product or services, and the skills to engage and educate customers, providing consistently great customer experiences is attainable.

2. Hire a Chief Customer Officer
There is no better way to unite a company than hiring a C-level customer advocate. A Chief Customer Officer (CCO) represents the customer in the boardroom and actively manages customer engagement policies and procedures across the organization. The key role of a Chief Customer Officer is to learn what customers value about the company, and how customers feel about the products and level of service currently being provided. A CCO seeks to find new ways to optimize the customer experience, and unify all departments into one customer-centric organization.

 3. Survey Your Customers
You can monitor customer behavior online and garner target audience sentiment by using carefully crafted algorithms, but no method proves more useful than simply asking customers for feedback. The key to acquiring useful feedback is to solicit customer responses on each individual communication channel. Wondering about your Twitter service and support experience? Draft a question and tweet away. Do not send out a mass email to your entire database asking for feedback on all channels. Most customers will only use two or three channels and asking them to comment on other channels will taint your data with guesses and neutral responses.

 Providing consistent messaging and consistent customer experiences across all channels is critical in today’s era of corporate transparency. Educate your employees, and educate your customers. Consistent world-class customer experiences are deliberate and necessary for success. How is your customer experience?

Rachel Miller has 10 years of e-commerce & e-marketing experience with a passion for social media and all things velcro. A dedicated customer service advocate Rachel believes that every job is a customer service job.
Rachel Miller
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  • Mike Lytle

    Article Rachel! I would suggest a 4th tip to consider. Adopt and and
    build a culture that is customer-centric. I am fortunate to work for a company where our
    ethos is “There is nothing more important than our customers” and this is in
    the DNA of all the employees, not just the customer facing professionals. Having an entire organization with the same
    goals in mind (consistent positive customer experience = customer loyalty) is
    one of our keys to success!

  • Anonymous

    Hi Michael,
    Thanks for reading! You’re absolutely right – all employees are in customer service and all employees must have a customers first attitude to successfully execute a customer experience strategy.

  • Customer Experience or Customer Service – The Difference « streetsmartprof
  • Lynn Hunsaker

    I like your point about consistency being a key to success in customer experience management. I think prevention-oriented CEM yields the highest ROI: preventing surprises for customers, preventing waste and hassles — all of which translate to loss of trust and higher costs for everyone. Mike’s point about culture is indeed integral to successful CEM from my own experience, too. I’m hoping to see comments on this definition of customer experience:

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