I often get asked to describe the difference between customer service and customer experience.

Customer service is an organizational function, like marketing and sales, that manages a subset of interactions with customers. Customer experience, on the other hand, is the connection that companies make with their customers across all functions and touchpoints. Here’s a definition for customer experience:


The perception that customers have of their interactions with an organization


I also like what Amazon.com’s CEO Jeff Bezos had to say on this topic:


Internally, customer service is a component of customer experience. Customer experience includes having the lowest price, having the fastest delivery, having it reliable enough so that you don’t need to contact [anyone]. Then you save customer service for those truly unusual situations. You know, I got my book and it’s missing pages 47 through 58


For most companies, customer service deals with some key “moments of truth” for customers. So that function is an important participant in most efforts to improve customer experience. But firms can’t just focus on customer service interactions or offload responsibility for customer experience to the customer service organization.


The bottom line: Customer service is an important component of customer experience.

This blog post was originally published by Temkin Group prior to its acquisition by Qualtrics in October 2018.