Customer Service Versus Customer Experience … What’s the Difference?It is one of the most common questions I’m asked in interviews: What’s the difference between customer service and customer experience (also known as CX)?

While I’ve written about this before, my original article about customer experience was more about how to create a more interactive experience. The example I used was how Home Shopping Network (HSN) incorporated gamification into the customer experience. It offered games and puzzles on its website. The prize for winning the game or solving the puzzle was in the form of discounts. That’s a great – and even fun – experience, but there is much more to it than that.

First, a little history. I remember the term customer experience being used as a fancy phrase to describe customer service. Many years ago, that’s all it was. Some smart person was trying to give a facelift to the term customer service. Not long after that, however, other smart people started using the term customer experience to describe every interaction with a company. That included customer service and much more.

This is where it confuses some people. Customer service is part of customer experience, but customer experience goes to a much broader level. Some of the obvious experiences include navigating a website, reading promotional emails and text messages, watching the brand’s videos and much more. Even opening a package is part of the customer experience. Think about how cool it is to unbox an iPhone or iPad. Back in the day, Steve Jobs was very specific about how he wanted the unboxing of the company’s products to be an amazing CX.

Some say that customer service is what happens when the customer experience goes wrong.

That’s part of it, but it’s not the whole picture. If you’ve followed my work, you know that customer service is not a department that deals with problems and complaints. It’s a philosophy to be embraced by every employee, from the CEO or owner to the most recently hired. It’s how you interact with people, both your internal and external customers.

The customer support department deals with questions, problems and complaints. Of course, their customer service skills must be at the highest level when dealing with unhappy customers and solving problems.

So, a short definition of customer service is all of the interactions that customers have with the people in the company. We can even broaden that to digital interactions, which now include chatbots, interactive experiences on a website and more. Just to emphasize, these interactions include, but go beyond, the interactions for customer support.

Customer experience includes customer service – and everything else a customer might experience when doing business with you.