What is the difference between Customer Service and Customer Experience

What’s the difference anyway, and does it really matter in the long run? These are three of the subtle but fundamental differences between Customer Service and Customer Experience.


As the leading CX Agency in Africa we feel that it would be worth helping you understand the difference between Customer Service and Customer Experience. While neither operates in a silo and can be seen as different rooms in the same house, there are subtle but fundamental differences in these two business areas.


What is Customer Service?


So, let’s start by looking at what Customer Service is. Customer Service is, by definition, the old-school way of doing things. It is one-dimensional and transactional. A customer comes to you with a need, you find a solution, and the customer goes off with a big smile (hopefully). They might come back when they have another need, or you might never see them again. That’s the nature of the beast.


What is Customer Experience?


Customer Experience, on the other hand, goes much deeper than ticking boxes of individual customer needs. CX delves deep into the emotions, taking your interaction from a once-off to an entire journey. While Customer Service might be needs-based, CX is relationship-based. It focuses on the whole gamut of human emotions to positively impact your customers’ behaviours and what drives them to come to you first and then keep coming back.

At the most basic level, Customer Service is a single interaction. In contrast, Customer Experience is the sum of all your interactions with your customers and how they perceive you. 


These are the three most clear distinctions between Customer Service and Customer Experience:

Reactive vs. Proactive

Customer Service is Reactive while Customer Experience is Proactive


In Customer Service, you are reacting to your customers’ needs as they come to you. With Customer Experience, there is a constant analysis across all customer touchpoints to create an improved experience that has your customers in mind and will keep them satisfied.


Transactional vs. Entire Journey

Customer Service is Transactional while Customer Experience covers the entire customer journey


While we are on touchpoints, Customer Service is just one point of contact your customer has with your business during their holistic Customer Experience Journey. The joy of CX is that the Customers’ Journey is mapped out, right from becoming aware of you to leaving and returning. This helps you to understand your customers’ needs and emotions at each step of their journey and allows you to create moments of magic that keep them coming back.


Front-Facing vs. All-Encompassing

Customer Service is comprised of front-facing staff, while Customer Experience takes all staff into account.


It all comes down to ownership. While Customer Service is primarily handled by Customer Service Managers, front-facing staff, and contact centres, Customer Experience belongs to the whole business. From the CEO to the sales team, the distributors, and the guy in the back office who fixes your email issues and always tells you about Lord of the Rings – Customer Experience is the whole team’s responsibility, and everyone needs to take ownership of it. CX understands that no matter your role, what you are doing will impact a customer’s experience of your company.


So what’s the bottom line? A well-executed customer experience will work hand-in-hand with customer service and enable you to create authentic interactions that grow your client relationships and retain your customers.