What’s the difference? customer service vs customer experience


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Customer experience (CX) is not a new concept, yet it’s quite a buzzword at the moment.

There is a misunderstanding that lurks behind the meaning of CX, and how it differs from customer service. You’d be surprised at how many people are unclear on the difference. Particularly colleagues who’ve never been in a customer facing role, believing they have nothing to do with the customer as they have no direct contact.

Whilst both aim to drive customer loyalty, there is a very big difference between the two.

Customer service is the advice, help, support or assistance a brand provides its customers

When you think of customer service, your first thought is probably complaints – however, it’s more than just resolution. The goal of customer service is to help and support customer enquiries. This could be helping a customer choose the right product to suit their needs, helping the customer to set up and use the product, and dealing with any issues they may have post purchase. Receiving great customer service is likely to increase customer satisfaction, therefore it is a vital part of the overall customer experience.

Customer experience is the sum of all touchpoints

When a customer begins to research your product or service, the CX begins – it’s the sum of all contact between the customer and the brand – every touchpoint along their journey, from awareness to post-purchase (online and offline). It’s essentially the experience and perception they have of your brand as a whole – not just your customer service department.

Today, brands are investing millions of dollars to improve the experiences they deliver to their customers. New roles are being created and recruited for which are completely dedicated to CX, dedicated to helping the brand develop psychological and emotional connections with their customers. This involves thinking about how the customer will feel and respond at each stage of the customer journey.

Customer experience is not a one-off interaction, it lives on throughout the entire customer lifecycle.

Who’s accountable for the customer experience?

In short – everybody.

Every person in the organisation is responsible for or contributes to CX in some way. It’s not a department and certainly shouldn’t be siloed. It must come from the top though, you need the support and buy-in from the c-suite/board in order to truly drive change.

The world’s most customer-centric brands are remodelling their entire business around the customer. For example, leading US Financial Services brand, USAA have shifted their model around the customer journey – completely away from a typical hierarchical or matrix structure. Their teams respond to customer issues or needs based on where they are situated in their journey.

USAA also lean on their colleagues for ways in which they can improve or enhance the experience. They’ve received over 10,000 internal suggestions, of which 897 have received U.S patents¹. A security guard contributed to 25 of those – not your typical CX strategist, but someone close to the customer who thought of innovative ways to make their lives easier.


Whilst customer service is important and contributes to the entire experience, it is only one aspect of the customer experience.

Customer experience is more than just a buzzword. It should be at the heart of every brand. It is viewed as the new battleground. Gartner predict that by next year, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.

In order to deliver enhanced, hyper-personalised experiences, brands need to get to know their customers. As Steve Jobs once said “get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.”

Customology are specialists in customer lifecycle management. Contact a Customologist today on 07 3902 7700 or [email protected] for further information on how we can support your brand in delivering tailored, personalised customer experiences to each of your customers.


Michael Barnard
Michael oversees a team of Customologists with combined talent across strategy, data science, and technology, who help brands understand and influence customer behaviours. Michael’s experience in human centred design is foundational in our principles of design thinking and starting with the customer, focusing on how brands engage, keep, and grow customers.


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