Customer Service Vs Customer Experience Vs Customer Engagement


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CS vs CX vs CE Cover
Source: Wizu

Despite what some companies may still think, customer service and customer experience are actually two very different things! Although clearly they often cross over, businesses should have a different strategy for each. Just to complicate things a little further let’s throw customer engagement in there too. Customer experience and customer engagement can often be confused but there are clear and important differences. In this article, we will try and explain the key differences and help you strategize for all three.

Firstly, lets explain each one…

What Is Customer Service?

Customer service is all about the help and advice provided by a company to the customers who are buying or using their products or services. Customer service could be classified as an area of customer experience. It is however a key area and at its core it’s role is to provide support. Quite often the entire customer experience can be heavily influenced by a customer service interaction. 73% of customers leave because they are dissatisfied with customer service.

What Is Customer Experience?

Customer experience (CX) is more about the product of the interactions between a company and a customer throughout the duration of their relationship. Specifically, the way in which customers perceive these interactions. These are all the aspects that ultimately make you feel something and can include everything from the packaging an item arrived in, speaking to a customer service agent or receiving a notification email. CX involves the integration of physical, emotional and psychological processes that occur throughout the customer journey.

What Is Customer Engagement?

Customer engagement is a communication connection between a consumer and a company through various channels. It is the means by which a company can create a relationship with its customer base. Traditional marketing methods are becoming less effective which makes customer engagement a vital area where companies can measure their effectiveness. Again, this could be classed as a specific area of customer experience and is usually more focused on sustaining and growing your audience. Customer engagement is the process of actively building, nurturing and managing relationships with customers. The more engaged your customers are with your brand the more likely they are to remain loyal and increase their lifetime value.



The overall customer experience is what stays with the customer and will ultimately decide if they will come back to you or recommend you. The customer service clearly plays an important role in the customer journey but whereas the customer service can often be pin pointed to a specific department or individuals, customer experience is the responsibility of everyone at the company. Customer service can often be about one single point in time and is usually reactionary. Customer experience is about the sum of all interactions and is more feeling orientated than problem orientated and is a more proactive experience.

Customer experience is an emotional connection of how the customer perceives your brand and ultimately is not something you can control. You can though try to shape that experience into a positive one by engaging with the customer. This could be through social media, surveys, ad campaigns or direct interaction. This customer engagement is what helps you keep a customer and gets them coming back to you on a regular basis.

How To Create a Successful Strategy

In the past companies competed primarily on things like price or brand but now the overall customer experience is the real driver. 89% of companies now expect to compete mostly based on customer experience. This was 36% just four years ago.

Improving the customer experience is not just some fluffy thing that is nice to do, it can directly increase your profits. In fact, 86% of consumers state they would pay more for a better customer experience.

A successful strategy would see these three areas interact with each other very closely. Your customer service should expand beyond the simple reactive role of the past. Your support should be assisting your customers throughout the journey, before they purchase, during and afterwards. Your agents will need to be empowered to go above and beyond with customers to help create winning experiences.

You might want to look at assigning metrics to each of these areas. For example, when it comes to customer service you might want to look at overall customer satisfaction ratings or perhaps collect ratings against specific sales agents. For customer experience, you might want to look at metrics such as Net Promoter Score which will give you an indication of how the customer perceived their overall interactions and the result this has on the likelihood of them recommending you. You could also look at things such as customer retention rate, customer value over a certain time or customer acquisition.

When it comes to customer engagement you should decide what areas you feel are most important for your business to engage with your customer. This could be social stats based on engagement metrics, it could newsletter opens and clicks or actions on your website. The more engaged your customers become the more these metrics should be increasing. All three areas should be personalized and consistent across all channels to achieve maximum impact.

Below is a summary of the main differences between customer service, customer experience and customer engagement.

Hopefully that gives you a better idea of the differences between the three and where you can start looking to improve each aspect. Ultimately everything falls under customer experience but it is useful to start dividing this up into key areas such as your customer service and customer engagement for you to better understand how you are performing and to make improvements.


  1. Martin…..thank you for sharing.
    Yes… for thought and considering the factors CX includes most in the “front”, i.e. sales people/tele contact etc. should in fact undergo a 3 month course in HOW NOT TO UPSET THE CUSTOMER. More often than not I personally have found salespeople in for example the “Vodacom Shop” (South Africa) to be totally untrained – not only with regards to dealing with customer complaints but even product knowledge; also the very apparent lack of communication betwwen this “shops” and headoffice re deliveries etc. In fact with my last visit I left and went to a opposition service provider……naturally now comes the issue that whenever I am asked by anyone about Vodacome….guess what my reaction will be !!. In fact they will loose 10 customers through my “experience”….not so!

  2. Agreed that experience is the core and foundation of customer relationship, and that service and engagement are more tactical, transactional contributing components. Where we differ is the perspective that it is “measured by NPS” (other, more real-world and actionable, metrics are readily available), “a feeling” (more accurately, an embedded belief, supported by memory and emotional response) and “subjective” (the irrationality of customers means that objectivity, in the form of tangible and functional, also plays a role in experience).

  3. Yes…great read.
    One thing bothers me though and that is the “statistics of 89% of companies” !!!
    Again other papers show that a similar percentage of companies are in fact NOT engaged in any monitoring process at all ??? Can someone please refer me to the company/ies who undertook the study?.

    Michael……I agree with your analysis/perspective.
    I am not aware of any software or metrics which covers the “area’s” as so clearly illustrated in your comments – or have I missed the boat somehow ?

  4. This is very insightful article, Martin. Understanding the differences between these three element of customer interaction can go a long way in creating a successful ecommerce company. In my opinion, it is very crucial for a company to map their customers’ journey in the sales funnel. Knowing where the customer stands in the sales funnel can help to interpret their needs and expectations beforehand and design a proactive customer communication strategy.


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