The Difference Between Customer Experience and Customer Service

Marc Gordon



Pre-registration was required and this event is already sold out! Please check at the Pinsent Room at the time of the event for availability.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020
Complimentary Lunch 11:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Presentation 12 - 1 p.m.

Marc will be discussing Customer Happiness. Today’s customers are craving positive experiences. Marc focuses on key influencers that impact people’s opinions about products and companies, how to retain customers and manage expectations to keep everyone smiling! Learn how to create customer experiences that inspire loyalty and drive referrals.

The terms customer service and customer experience often get used interchangeably, as if they are two different terms for the same thing. However, they are in fact two distinctly different practices. And knowing the difference will give you a better understanding of how to allocate resources in a way that makes every customer feel valued and appreciated.

Have you ever found yourself in possession of a product that didn’t look, taste, or work the way you thought it should?

If so, did you know that in most cases you had three options?


Toss the item in the garbage and call it a learning experience.


Take a photo of it and share your thoughts on social media.


Reach out to the store or company that provided you the product and request they help makes things right.

The outcome of option 3 will be an indicator of how much the company values your business, you as a customer, and their belief in their product.

How things progress from this point is a measure of their customer service. If they are focused on taking care of the situation, making things right, perhaps even compensating you beyond the value of the item, it would be fair to say they provide great customer service.

If on the other hand, they refuse to help you, are inaccessible, or find reasons why it’s not their problem, then you would likely say they have terrible customer service. Which would then lead you back to options 1 or 2.


Customer service is the definition of how a customer is treated when they have a problem. There is no other reason or situation when customer service would come into play. Customer service can be delivered in person, over the phone, through a web chat, etc.


There are typically two factors that impact customer service.




This will usually have the greatest influence on the outcome and covers such criteria as the need for proof of purchase, warranty issues, and store policies.

For example, when it comes to product issues, some retailers will gladly take the product back while others will direct customers to the manufacturer. It should be noted that referring the customer to a manufacturer does not constitute poor customer service.







This means courtesy, knowledge and the desire to make things better.

Staff that listen and who are empathetic and thoughtful will often have a more positive impact on the outcome than policy alone.

Studies have shown that customers who are met with a true desire to help will often leave the customer service encounter pleased with the outcome, even if it was not what they were hoping for. What’s crucial for a positive outcome is for the company’s representative to share in the customer’s desire to see the problem get rectified.




Customer experience is the culmination of every interaction the customer has directly or indirectly with the company.


Direct interactions include visits to the company’s website, shopping through their store, speaking with their staff, and of course customer service. Indirect interactions can involve driving though the parking lot of the mall where the business is located or being stuck behind a slow-moving truck with the company’s name plastered across it. All of these things added together impact the customer experience. And yes, sometimes the company has little or no control. But the customer will often not care.

Delivering a fulfilling customer experience does not mean having to be perfect or WOW your customer. In most cases, it just involves being thoughtful, patient, and caring. This can be reflected in reducing the number of “sticky spots”. A sticky spot is any point along the customer experience journey where things don’t go as smoothly as they should. In many cases, a sticky spot can impact the entire customer experience, even if it appeared to be insignificant.

For example, imagine you’re in a clothing store. There’s a huge selection, the items are easy to find, and with the help of a friendly and knowledgeable staff person, you find the perfect item. You are happy, excited and can’t wait to wear it. So far, your experience has been wonderful. You get to the sales counter only to discover a long line. A customer is having issues with what items are sale priced, causing a delay. And although there are two tills, only one is open. You stand there along with the other customers waiting for the line to start moving. With each passing moment your happiness fades, turning into frustration.

After a wait that seems way to long, you finally pay for your items and leave the store. Are you still happy and excited about your purchase? Likely not as much. That one sticky spot had a negative impact on your entire experience.




When it comes to delivering experiences that keep customers coming back, don’t be overly focused on “wowing” them.

Instead create experiences that bring comfort and convenience. People already have enough stress in their lives. If they know your store can help them escape that, they will more likely return.