4 Key Differences Between Customer Experience and Customer Service

By David Smith

Information technology businesses and almost every other type of small business are now keenly focused on customer experience. The emphasis on positive customer experience has turned conventional marketing on its head. In fact, in 2015, a study showed that the value of customer experience – in the form of long-term customer relationships – now exceeds the value of branding for major companies.

Successful software companies are no longer just concerned about user experience within their products. The entire experience, from awareness through ongoing subscription renewals, is now being designed and executed to create the most positive experience possible.

Professional services companies are now generating content that demonstrates their expertise with an eye on where it fits in the customer journey. They realize the customer experience is no longer measured solely during the “project” phase of the engagement but encompasses the sales, onboarding, project, and value attainment phases of the customer relationship.

IT consulting companies recognized that to thrive in the future they have to choreograph long-term relationships in order to achieve the positive customer experiences that create renewals and referrals.

A recent Walker study indicates that by 2020, 86% of buyers will be willing to pay more for a product or service with better customer service, overtaking price and products as key brand differentiators.

Money invested in creating positive customer experiences is money well spent.

But what about customer service?

Customer service remains a common response when business owners are asked: “What makes you different from everyone else”? But customer service doesn’t rise to the level of customer experience.

While customer support is vital and necessary, it doesn’t take into account the entire journey of your customer. The two should not be confused.

Here are several of the key differences between customer service and customer experience.


Customer experience has a much wider breadth and contains more elements that need to be managed. Let’s say your business operates on five social media platforms, has a website, and can be accessed by tablet, mobile, or laptop. All these touch points need to be managed consistently to achieve positive customer experience. Understanding each touch point allows you to analyze the expectations, best result, and next steps of your customer. If the touch points feel disjointed or inconsistent, customers may not return.

Proactive vs. reactive

Customer service is reactive by definition. Someone has an issue with your company and calls/emails to deal with it. Customer service employees must react and help the customer overcome the issue and continue with the product or service. Customer experience is a predefined strategy. It envisions the journey of your customer, anticipates needs and solutions, next steps, intended outcomes.  Customer experience is not reactive; it’s proactive.


Customer experience deliberately attempts to create a positive emotional connection between your customer and your business.  While a satisfied customer is an outcome customer services hopes to achieve, it is also driven by efficient problem resolution. Customer experience isn’t measured by minutes or first-call resolution percentages.  Many companies are now focused on using their entire customer journey to get to WOW – an outcome that propels customers to tell others about your business. And there is a good reason to concentrate on emotions: highly emotionally connected customers spend twice as much as satisfied customer according to a 2016 HBR report.

The Long Game

Customer service is often focused on immediacy; how fast or how few resources have to be utilized to satisfy the customer. There is a need to resolve the service issue as quickly and painlessly as possible.  Customer experience is about building long-lasting relationships. The end result of customer experience management is two-fold: growth through customer retention and increase sales, and motivating highly engaged customers to refer others to you.

Customer experience focused companies that concentrate on the long-term goal of growth with existing customers will find ultimately spend less on customer acquisition, which is much more expensive than customer retention.

Interested in how your business can leverage positive customer experience??

Our initial consultation won’t cost you a dime but will earn you many dollars in return.
About Valens Point

We help early-stage tech companies accelerate growth by building brand credibility, establishing repeatable lead generation, and supporting sales and partner teams. The result — effective marketing up and running in a fraction of the time it would take to recruit, hire, and train an internal marketing team.