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The Difference Between Customer Service & Customer Experience

What's the difference between customer service and customer experience?

Whilst the answer is pretty simple, let's break it down so we truly understand where the nuances lie.

I filmed this episode of the #LoyaltyLoop from my garage. Why? Because we need a new garage door, and I used my search for a new garage door to break down the difference between customer service and customer experience.

The customer experience in action

A few years ago, we traded in the winter storms of Boston for the hurricanes in South Florida, and as a result we need a new garage door because the current garage door is not hurricane rated. On the back of the garage door is a sticker advertising a ‘Garage Door Tune Up’ priced at $39.95, by The Doorman.

I don’t call the sales and service phone number immediately – that's not how I buy. Instead I open my phone and search for The Doorman in Boca Raton. I click on their website and it looks pretty good.

I try to look at the page for hurricane garage doors but I get a ‘Page not found’ so I surf a little more and I read some of the testimonials and they look good. Aware that no one posts a bad testimonial on their website I go to Google, and I check out the customer reviews there. Again, they all look pretty good and while there are a couple of bad ones (everybody has a couple of bad reviews) it looks like these owners are very responsive and have responded to every single bad experience.

So I fill out the contact form on the website and press send. No email confirmation comes so I start to wonder if I've submitted the form correctly. A couple of hours later I got an email response:


He’s yelling at me! That's the impression I get, because it's written in all caps. This isn't the kind of response I was expecting. Keith assumes I know what insulated and non-insulated are but I have no idea what he's talking about.

The problem is, that this email is part of your customer service.

In fact, everything you've witnessed so far is part of the customer experience.

What is an experience?

An experience is an event or occurrence that leaves an impression or not. It’s made up of lots of little micro moments which are the impressions you get from your customer experience.

What is customer service?

Customer service is interpersonal advice or assistance given to someone during and after the sale of a product or a service.

The guy who showed up (one of the Doormen) was Jim and he was really nice. He gave me a catalogue, a business card in case I wanted to contact him, and he started to fill out an estimate – as soon as he left I felt pretty happy actually.

And how does customer service differ from customer experience?

This visit from Jim fits perfectly into our definition of customer service. The key here is the word interpersonal, it's one-on-one communication.

Here’s the nuanced difference between customer service & customer experience.

Jim sends me an email a few hours later, and that’s part of the customer experience. But the contents of that email and even the two quotes he attaches, those are part of this customer service.

You see, customer service is part of an entire customer experience, but it’s not the same thing as a customer experience.

What does your customer experience look like?

Take a few minutes to think about your customer, client or prospect customer experience.

Get in their shoes and walk through the steps they take and the interactions they have with your brand. Now attach an emoji to each of those experiences. What is the impression they’re getting from each of those touch points?

Basically at the end of the day, do you see more smiley faces than frowny faces, or thinking faces, or confused faces, or angry faces?

What does your customer experience say about you, your company and even the service you deliver?

And let me ask you this, how does this video make you feel? Drop an emoji in the comments below so I know where this video fits in your customer experience with me and my brand. I sure hope it's a happy face 😊

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