Shep Hyken's Customer Service Blog

The Difference Between Customer Service and Customer Experience

Every once in a while someone will ask, “What’s the difference between customer service and customer experience?”

My answer used to be easy. Customer service really drove the customer experience. That was during a time when the main way customers interacted with the companies they did business with was with people-to-people interactions. A customer could visit a store or business. Or a customer could call a phone number to ask a question, resolve a complaint, etc. It was all about delivering great customer service, which was 90% of the customer experience.

Today my answer is changing, as the customer’s experience goes far beyond delivering great customer service. Due to new and amazing technology, smart companies are interacting with their customers in ways never before imagined. Multiple social media channels allow companies to communicate with customers the way they want and like to communicate.  Gamification, (I love that word) allows for interactions that get customers to engage in some of the most fascinating ways.

Some examples: Home Shopping Network has a game arcade featured on their website that features a number of interactive games including a daily jigsaw puzzle that customers can solve. When they do, they discover the new “deal” or special promotion.

Coca-Cola has an app that allows you to buy someone a coke on the other side of the planet. The lucky recipient’s Coke machine has a video camera which allows the gift-giver to watch the expression of the person when they find out their drink is free. How much fun is that!

Television shows allow you to pull out your computer, smart phone, iPad, etc. and interact during the TV show. Sometimes comments from Twitter, Facebook, etc. can be seen on a “feed” at the bottom or the side of the screen.

All of this takes customer experience from the customer service department to the marketing department. So, what does that mean to you and me?

Customer service is still as important as ever. However, it is no longer the sole focus of the customer experience. Now, the customer experience brings a company new ways of deepening their customer relationships through really cool technological breakthroughs. It’s changing the way we do business. Still, just as the way we’ve always conducted business, no matter how cool and fun the technology is, if there is a problem, complaint or question, we must be able to deliver the outstanding customer service that our customers have always expected.

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, professional speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact (314) 692-2200 or For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs go to Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

(Copyright ©MMXII, Shep Hyken)

  1. Hi Shep,

    Great article once again. It’s still hard to believe that businesses don’t fully understand that customer experiences and customer engagement can indeed make customers loyal and create brand advocates. We understand that gamification is the best way to engage customers, even beyond social media. We’ve developed an online rewards platform that allows businesses to create their own customized rewards program utilizing gamification concepts (challenges, leaderboards, virtual badges, status, etc). Businesses can create any kind of activity they want to engage their customers like treasure hunts, contests, getting feedback from their customers and so much more. They can create any activity they want, tailored to their business goals and their diverse customers. I really hope that businesses see the value in engagement from now on. This is what we built our platform upon. Thank you for great content!

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