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Customer Service vs. Customer Experience: Differences Explained

Jul 19, 2023

As you roadmap your customer retention strategies, you’ll likely encounter two seemingly equivalent terms: customer service vs customer experience.

The overlap is that customer service falls under the larger umbrella of customer experience. Customer experience describes clients’ interactions with all consumer-facing elements of your brand: your storefront, staff, support infrastructure and marketing materials, for instance. 

When customers need support, their interactions with representatives and systems (i.e., customer service) will inform their overall experience with your brand. 

In this guide, we’re comparing customer service vs customer experience in detail. We’ll explore each concept, highlight some key differences and break down how today’s businesses can leverage SMS to support their service functions and customer experience strategies. 

Defining Customer Service and Customer Experience

Before we note the difference between customer service and customer experience, let’s define both terms clearly:

  • Customer service describes your entire support network for clients: your customer service representatives, their scripts, your support policies and any digital assets you’re leveraging for customer support, including automated chatbots.
  • Customer experience describes clients’ overall impressions of your brand. Clients develop these impressions throughout the sales funnel, including any time spent interacting with support representatives.

While these concepts are closely connected, they’re not the same. Both, however, are key for customer relationship-building and retention. 

There’s ample data to support that customers who have a positive experience with a brand are more likely to make a repeat purchase and recommend your brand to their peers. For example, customers satisfied with their experiences may leave a positive Google review, which acts as a form of word-of-mouth marketing. 

Understanding Customer Service

The primary goal of your customer service functions is to resolve client issues and meet their immediate needs. Whether you’re helping a client find the perfect product in your inventory or processing a return or refund, customer service is all about helping clients accomplish their goals. 

The customer service arm of your business likely includes multiple elements:

  • Your customer service staff
  • The scripts and procedures staff use to deliver solutions to clients
  • The standards and metrics to which you hold your customer service team
  • The channels your clients use to connect with representatives: SMS text, browser chat, phone, email and self-service platforms (like a customer portal)

Unpacking Customer Experience

A customer’s interaction with your support team will inform their overall experience with your brand. It’s just one of many stages when your customer will interface with your brand.

Customer experience informs every touchpoint during the sales process: 

  • Pre-purchase – The pre-purchase stage can include browsing your eCommerce site, physical storefront, Google reviews or marketing content. 
  • Purchase – During the purchase phase, customers will choose one or more products, add them to their physical or digital carts and check out. 
  • Post-purchase – After customers check out, they’ll wait for their items to ship (in some cases), test out their item, leave a review or consider purchasing another product.

During any of these phases, a customer could contact your support team. A representative is there to help them choose the right product, navigate your point-of-sale system or troubleshoot their product after delivery.

Key Differences Between Customer Service and Customer Experience

As noted above, customer service is just one element of the customer experience. Thus, there are some key differences when comparing customer service against customer experience:

  • Customer service focuses on resolving immediate customer issues. Representatives can help customers find the right product, navigate the checkout process or troubleshoot their items in real-time. On the other hand, customer experience strategies aim to establish positive connections that lay the groundwork for long-term loyalty
  • Customer service representatives can connect with customers, personalize the service experience and showcase a brand’s consistency and quality. An effective customer experience approach does the same during every client touchpoint.

Leveraging SMS to Enhance All Aspects of the Customer Experience

Businesses can use powerful technologies like SMS texting to enhance both customer service functions and customers’ overall experiences with a brand.

There are many benefits to opening up an SMS channel for your business. Texting is:

  • Immediate – 60% of consumers read texts within five minutes of receipt.
  • Wide-reaching – Nearly 85% of global consumers own a smartphone.
  • Highly impactful – In 2022, 80% of shoppers using coupons redeemed these via mobile devices.

Plus, brands can integrate SMS throughout the customer journey:

  • SMS can be an efficient, accessible customer service channel for clients.
  • Brands can use SMS to collect survey data and request reviews. 
  • Holiday or birthday messages can help businesses build relationships with clients.
  • Businesses can proactively text clients with order and shipping updates.
  • SMS is an effective channel for sharing promotions, discounts and marketing content.

If you’re looking for innovative ways to improve customer experience and make customer service functions more robust, incorporating SMS can help you achieve these positive results.

Provide Stellar Customer Service and Experience with Textedly

Customer service and customer experience, while distinct, are both key for relationship-building and client retention. Plus, today’s brands have access to numerous technologies that can enhance their service functions and clients’ overall experiences throughout the sales funnel. 

If you’re ready to start using SMS for business, send your first message with Textedly. Thousands of businesses trust our platform for SMS marketing, customer service functions, automation, survey and review collection. 

Sign up for your 14-day free trial and leverage SMS to enrich the customer experience. 

Start Texting Your Customers for Free With Textedly


LinkedIn. The Top 4 Customer Experience Trends in 2023. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/top-4-customer-experience-trends-2023-bernard-marr 

Forbes. 100 Customer Experience Stats for 2023. https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2023/06/26/100-customer-experience-stats-for-2023/?sh=6f267ec77e6e 

Techjury. 35+ Mind-Blowing SMS Marketing Statistics in 2023. https://techjury.net/blog/sms-marketing-statistics/