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CX is Not the Same as Customer Service

Service delivery involves a whole lot of stuff the customer never sees or experiences.
Picture of Karl Palachuk

Karl W. Palachuk
October 23, 2021

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The world of “customer service” is extremely fad-driven, very much like the world of sales. In the last five years or so, the term CX – customer experience – has received a lot of attention. In general, this is good. But it has led to some serious inaccuracies and myths about customer service. But it sells seminars!

Customer Service vs. Customer Experience

Perhaps the biggest problem with the CX focus is that advocates of CX understate the importance of customer service. Very often, they define CX to include everything where a customer touches your company (your web site, the phone, software, documentation, etc.). That’s fine.

But then they tend to define CS simply as dispute resolution. That’s a vast understatement of customer service. And it places CS as a subset of CX. But CS is much more than that.

In a service business, the customer rarely sees all the work that goes into delivering great customer service. In fact, almost by definition, they only see what they experience. Customer service involves a great deal of internal or “behind the scenes” work.

In a service business, almost everything related to service delivery is customer service. This includes hiring, training, creating standard operating procedures, monitoring services, tracking activity, buying supplies, invoicing, building support systems, and much more. In fact, one form of excellent customer service is anticipating problems and fixing them before the customer is ever aware that there could have been a problem.

I love to define branding as “Everything you do.” This fits well with the customer-centric nature of the CX movement. With this in mind, let’s remember that customer experience is the part of “everything you do” that the customer sees or touches. Internally, not seen by the customer, is a much bigger and more complicated part of the “everything you do” that the customer rarely sees.

Perhaps the idea that customer service is simply about dispute resolution is great for training customer service reps. But it has the potential to poison your service delivery if you pit the service department against the customer service department. People who design, build, and deliver your services every day will develop very bad attitudes if they are constantly blamed for everything in the name of delivering a “great” customer experience.

Ultimately, taking care of your employees is critical to your service delivery, even if the client never sees this activity.

This is particularly true in industries like technology consulting. We sell big bundles of plans that involve hardware, software, cloud services, monitoring, and fixing things before the end user is affected. That’s great customer service, even if the only “experience” the customer has is that things just work all the time.


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