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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