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Customer Success Vs Customer Experience: What Sets Them Apart?

Kate Williams

26 July 2023

5 min read

In the vibrant realm of business, we often encounter a variety of terms and phrases that aid us in understanding the industry’s detailed intricacies. Two such terms, “Customer Success” (CS) Vs “Customer Experience” (CX), have gained noteworthy attention over time.

However, the nuanced differences between these two concepts can sometimes create confusion, leading people to use them as if they were one and the same.

This blog aims to dispel this ambiguity by shining a spotlight on the unique characteristics, measurements, areas of application, and practical implications of both these essential terms.

What is the Difference Between Customer Success and Customer Experience?

To understand the distinction, we first need to define each term individually. “Customer Experience” (CX) encapsulates the holistic journey a customer undertakes with a brand – from their initial interaction and purchase process to their after-sales interactions.

Every touchpoint a customer has with your business, be it navigating your website, making an in-store purchase, using your product, or calling your customer service hotline, forms part of the CX.

On the other hand, “Customer Success” (CS) is a strategic, proactive approach that aims to ensure customers achieve their desired outcomes while using your product or service. It’s an organization’s commitment to making customers successful in their goals with its product.

The CS team actively partners with customers, helping them to navigate challenges and leverage the product effectively.
In essence, while CX is a wide umbrella covering all aspects of a customer’s interaction with your business, CS is a more targeted, focused approach aimed at assisting customers in achieving success with your product or service.

Customer Success Vs Customer Experience

To delve deeper into the divergence between CS and CX, let’s consider the parameters of scope, metrics, and industry application.

a. Scope

CX encompasses the sum of all the interactions and experiences a customer has with a business. It begins at the first point of contact, potentially even before the customer knows they need your product, and continues through the purchasing process and beyond.

Thus, every single customer touchpoint, across every department in your business – marketing, sales, customer support, and even the C-suite – forms part of the CX.

CS, in contrast, is typically more focused and specific. It’s often a dedicated department within a company, with teams trained to interact directly with customers. This ensures that the customers can extract maximum value from the product or service.
The scope of CS is the customers’ journey with your product or service – from onboarding and adoption to retention and expansion.

b. Metrics

The metrics utilized to gauge CX and CS success also vary significantly. For CX, the focus is on understanding how customers perceive their interactions with a company. Key metrics include customer satisfaction (CSAT), Net Promoter Score (NPS), and Customer Effort Score (CES).

These indicators provide a holistic view of a customer’s experience across all touchpoints, giving businesses insight into what’s working and what needs improvement.

In contrast, CS relies heavily on metrics that assess whether customers are achieving their goals with your product or service. Key metrics include customer churn rate, customer lifetime value (CLV), and product usage data.

Thus, these metrics help businesses understand the value customers are deriving from their products or services and guide them towards improving their offerings for greater customer success.

c. Industry

Another distinguishing aspect is the industries where these terms are predominantly used. CX is a universal concept and is applicable across virtually any industry that involves customer interaction – from retail and banking to hospitality and technology.

CS, however, finds more prevalence in industries offering subscription-based services, like B2B industries and SaaS (Software as a Service) companies. This is largely due to the ongoing nature of these services, where continuous value delivery and long-term customer success. This plays critical roles in maintaining a sustainable business model.

How Customer Success and Customer Experience Work Together

Although CS and CX have unique objectives, they are intrinsically linked, complementing each other in enhancing the overall customer journey. CS cannot thrive without a robust CX foundation, and an effective CX strategy can be exponentially amplified with a proactive CS approach.

Imagine a scenario where the customer experience is seamless. Consider the product is excellent, the support is efficient, and every interaction with the company is a delight. This strong CX foundation sets the stage for CS, where the customer can then be guided to extract optimal value. Thus, solidifying their commitment to the brand.

Both these elements need to align and work in harmony to ensure a cohesive journey that not only satisfies the customer but also helps them succeed. This alignment begins with a deep understanding of the customer’s needs, goals, and expectations and ensuring that every touchpoint and interaction is designed to meet these parameters.

How Customer Success and Customer Experience Impact Customer Journey

The influence of CS and CX extends across the entire customer journey, profoundly impacting stages like onboarding, adoption, retention, and expansion.

Onboarding

During the onboarding stage, CX is critical in making the process as simple and enjoyable as possible. It’s about reducing friction and ensuring customers understand your product or service. Thus, setting the stage for a lasting relationship. Simultaneously, CS comes into play by ensuring that the customer starts deriving value from the product as quickly as possible.

Adoption

In the adoption stage, CX continues to play a role by ensuring ease of use and intuitive interaction with your product or service. On the other hand, the CS team guides customers in using the product effectively. Thus, ensuring it helps them achieve their desired outcomes.

Retention

When it comes to retention, a good CX can make a customer more likely to stay with your brand, while a robust CS strategy can continually demonstrate the value of your product, thereby reducing the likelihood of churn.

Expansion

Lastly, in the expansion phase, a positive customer experience can encourage customers to purchase more products or services. Simultaneously, CS can initiate opportunities for upselling and cross-selling by demonstrating to customers. They get this added value they could receive with more advanced offerings.

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customer success vs customer experience : customer journey map video

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Break Down Silos and Build Bridges

It is imperative for organizations to recognize the inherent value of both CS and CX. By actively working towards integrating these elements by breaking down the silos that often exist between CX and CS teams. Shared goals, cross-functional collaboration, and consistent communication are the keys to integrating these concepts effectively.

It’s essential to remember that customers don’t see departments – they see one company. By building bridges between CX and CS, businesses can provide a holistic and seamless journey that enhances satisfaction and success.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, “Customer Success” and “Customer Experience” may be two distinct concepts, but they share a common purpose. They enhance the relationship between a business and its customers.

By understanding these concepts, their differences, and their collaborative potential, businesses can devise a strategic framework. This in turn drives customer satisfaction, success, and ultimately, business growth.

Kate Williams

Content Marketer at SurveySparrow

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