Customer Service & Customer Experience: The Difference You Should Probably Know About

A good customer experience

Customer Service? Customer Experience? What are these two terms we talk about all the time?

On the phoneCustomer experience and customer service are two prominently used terms, but many of us don’t really differentiate between them. Probably best explained in this article by Elizabeth Clor, these two terms are not interchangeable, which is how they’ve often been used.

Customer service is just that: it deals with the service elements of the overall sales process: How friendly is the staff? How quickly do they see to a customer? What’s the procedure for processing customer complaints? Are they dealt with quickly?

Customer service involves the direct contact that customer-facing employees have with the customer. What type of contact is it? How good is that contact? How quickly are issues resolved? What options of service do customers have?

Customer experience is the experience that the service provides. What is it like for a customer to contact staff? How easy is it for them to give feedback or use the system? Is the store clean and easy to navigate?

If we were in a restaurant, for example, the customer service would revolve around the quality of service: does the waiter smile and answer questions cordially? How quickly does the food arrive? Whereas the experience can be defined by how pleasant the restaurant is: good atmosphere, good quality of food and beverages, prices appropriate for that quality.

Customer Service Experience

There’s a word in the Dutch language: gezelligheid. There’s no perfect translation into english, but Wikipedia offers this as an accurate:

“…depending on context, can be translated as convivial, cosy, fun, or nice atmosphere, but can also connote belonging, time spent with loved ones, the fact of seeing a friend after a long absence, or general togetherness that gives a warm feeling.” [Gezelligheid, Wikipedia]

Why this tangent?

Any other business can make the greatest attempts at good customer service, but without the gezelligheid the customer experience will be severely lacking. Vice versa, you can have the coziest most ‘gezellig’ business in the world, but if the service is awful no one will come back either.

Creative Customer Service

There’s a restaurant in Melbourne that we tried out a few times before giving up. The decor was wonderful, and the food fantastic, the trouble was that the service was terrible. The few times we went, we were always made to feel like we were inconveniencing the staff when we placed orders, they almost never raised their eyes to look at you and they smiled even more rarely.

A year after they’d opened, they were shut and there was a rumor floating around that the owner took the forced shutdown as a surprise, complaining that the neighborhood just didn’t support his efforts to provide great food.

“The food was really good,” my mother-in-law said, “if they’d just been nicer we’d have gone there more often!”

We’ve all experienced in some shape or form: where either the service was so bad that we didn’t go back, or, even though the service was great, the experience left something to be desired. As customers, we have the right to choose what we want; and we want good everything, both service and experience.

Secret Shopper Companies that have that figured out, are virtually unstoppable.

3 replies
  1. Bonny jones
    Bonny jones says:

    Hello Olwin,
    That’s an excellent article you have shared here!There is no single point mantra to brand success leading to higher purchases and so higher revenues. But, in today’s era, it is a widely accepted belief that understanding customers and providing them what they need guarantees success. Today, customers expect brands to create products they want and not what the former think customers need and should have and that’s where comes the need to understand audience.

  2. Olwen
    Olwen says:

    Thanks Bonny! Appreciate the feedback and the insight. I agree completely, the power has shifted to the customer, and that’s something that companies need to wrap their heads around in order to further their growth.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Empathy is the key to making good customer service a great customer experience, two vital sides of the coin and the differences between which I’ve explored here. […]

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