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Customer
experience vs.
customer service:
How they both
impact your business

Author: Rose de Fremery

Customer experience and customer service are two strategically distinct concepts in business, although some people might be tempted to use the two terms interchangeably. To earn customer loyalty and compete in a digital-first economy, it's important to understand the role that each concept plays.

Here's a look at the distinctions between customer experience vs. customer service, the role that technology plays in both, and why businesses should consider placing a higher priority on the customer experience.

Customer experience vs. customer service: What's the difference?

Although customer service and customer experience can each deeply influence customer satisfaction and customer loyalty, they differ in some important ways. Customer service is the first touchpoint customers turn to when they have a question or need help with a product or service. It is typically transactional in nature and limited to a specific issue that must be addressed or resolved within a short period of time. The customer service team has primary responsibility here, and performance is often evaluated using metrics such as first call resolution. Customer service is closely associated with a company's bottom line.

Customer experience (CX) is a more holistic concept that reflects the full range of ways in which customers engage with companies today. It includes every interaction a customer has with a brand, from a quick exchange on social media right down to a brief consultation with a self-help chatbot. Customers no longer make a distinction between touchpoints or channels when engaging with a company. If they have an excellent experience with a contact center representative but a poor interaction with a chatbot, for example, the customer's overall view of the brand's customer experience will be less favorable. For this reason, it's essential for companies to provide a consistently satisfying customer experience at every turn.

Customer service technology: The role of technology in CX and customer service

Now that technology has increased customer demand for a high quality experience, companies are taking a careful look at the technologies and solutions that enable strong customer experience and customer service. Customer service technology includes contact centers that support omnichannel customer engagement. For example, businesses can use cloud contact center technology to engage their customers on the channels they prefer—such as social media, text message, voice, etc.—maintaining a consistent experience throughout.

AI-enabled bot assistants can help human agents understand the intent behind customers' questions and provide accurate, consistent answers to customer questions in near-real time. Meanwhile, chatbots can augment a company's customer experience team by providing around-the-clock assistance and self-service answers to customers, handing off more complex requests to human agents when appropriate. All these technologies, especially when applied in concert as part of a customer experience strategy, can provide a more responsive experience that is centered on customers' needs instead of forcing them to accommodate static and inflexible business processes.

Customer service technology also has an impact on business success. Traditionally, this included the call center as well as interactive voice response (IVR) systems that would guide a customer to the right department for resolving their issue or question. Customer service technology might also include email exchanges or online chat sessions with a technical support team. Businesses may use customer relationship management (CRM) software to keep track of customer interactions, so nothing falls through the cracks. While these technologies are still in place today, the difference is that companies are now integrating them with cloud-native customer experience solutions to provide a more comprehensive and consistent customer experience.

Why businesses should prioritize CX over customer service

Considering the strategic value of customer experience vs. customer service, it's clear that businesses should prioritize customer experience. Customer experience encompasses customer service, and it's a competitive differentiator in today's digital-first economy. According to Zendesk's Customer Experience Trends Report 2021, 75% of customers are willing to overlook prices to buy from companies that offer a good customer experience. In addition, 80% of customers will stop doing business with a brand and switch to a competitor after just one poor experience.

Give your customers a high quality customer experience

Although customer experience and customer service might appear to be the same thing at first glance, there are essential strategic differences to keep in mind when comparing customer experience vs. customer service. Businesses should place a priority on customer experience, taking full advantage of technologies such as the cloud contact center, bot assistants and chatbots to meet customer demand for a satisfying experience. In doing so, they will have a much better chance of earning customer loyalty and accessing growth opportunities in our rapidly advancing digital age.

Learn how Verizon's Contact Center and CX solutions can improve your ability to give customers what they need.

FAQs

How do you create a good customer service experience? +
  • By providing a personalized customer experience and holistically engaging customers on all the channels where they spend their time, leveraging intelligent self-help options as well as human expertise in the process.

What drives customer experience? +
  • The quality and consistency of the interactions a customer has with a brand, regardless of the touchpoint, channel or business unit involved.

What is the difference between customer service and customer experience? +
  • Customer service is transactional and typically focused on issue resolution, whereas customer experience encompasses the entire spectrum of customer engagement.