Customer Service vs Customer Experience in SaaS: What’s The Difference?

Customer Service vs Customer Experience in SaaS: What's The Difference?

Many people tend to use the terms customer service vs customer experience interchangeably.

I’m here to tell you that’s wrong; the two terms, although known to boost customer engagement and loyalty, are not synonymous.

If you want to find out the key differences between customer service vs customer experience and how to improve both for a higher customer retention rate, keep reading!


  • Customer service is the assistance a customer receives throughout their customer lifecycle.
  • A customer’s perception of your product or company is termed customer experience.
  • Customer service is one phase of the customer journey, while customer experience encompasses the entire journey.
  • The company leads customer experience management, while the customer always initiates customer service interaction.
  • Excellent customer service is the responsibility of the customer service team while customer experience is shouldered by all departments in an organization.
  • Customer service and customer experience are essential for customer satisfaction and business growth.
  • You can measure the quality of your customer support with metrics such as NPS, CSAT, and Ticket First Response time.
  • Customer experience can be measured through CES, Churn Rate, Retention Rate, and Customer Lifetime Value.
  • You can provide good customer service by offering self-service support options and allowing direct interaction with service agents where necessary.
  • To improve the overall customer experience, you should use surveys to identify friction points within your product, then implement in-app guidance to alleviate the friction and boost user engagement.
  • Get a Userpilot demo and see how to optimize your customers’ experience and boost your company’s credibility.

What is customer service [CS]?

Customer service is the assistance rendered to a customer before, during, and after a purchase. The touchpoints involved in this interaction are limited because CS is merely a reaction to customers’ requests for support.

Most customer service teams typically focus on providing hasty responses to the issues raised by the customer. But great customer service entails understanding the problem, how it impacts the customer journey, and providing an easy solution. Customer service should make the entire journey easier instead of demanding more effort from the customer.

You can offer support through human agents or provide self-service options such as a knowledge base [forums, FAQ pages] or AI-powered messaging. Some channels that successful businesses use to provide customer service are:

  • Self-service support: through an in-app resource center that provides on-demand access to your chat, product documentation, guides or video tutorials, etc.
Add different types of content to your Resource Center using Userpilot
Add different types of content to your Resource Center using Userpilot
  • Live Chat and Email Support: this allows real-time, personalized exchange with a customer service agent.
  • Call Support: this channel leverages human interaction to appease customers and resolve their problems.

What is customer experience?

Customer experience refers to a customer’s perception of your brand or product based on their interactions with you in all stages of their journey.

This experience neither starts nor ends with a purchase. It’s an ongoing process that will directly impact customer lifetime value.

From the moment a customer contacts you, the customer lifecycle begins. How your business interacts with them from that first contact till the post-purchase stage will determine their overall experience.

customer experience management definition
What is customer experience management (CXM)

Not every customer journey will look the same; as such, multiple departments within the entire organization must strive to create a seamless experience that cuts across every touchpoint.

Customer service vs customer experience: main differences

Having established that customer service and experience are intertwined, it’s time to pinpoint the key differences between them.

Focused on the entire customer journey vs part of the journey

The interaction required for customer support is considerably short compared to the overall customer experience.

Customer service is a key component that influences the customer experience. It involves a limited interaction with the customer-facing departments, during which agents must provide adequate assistance to the customer.

Customer experience, on the other hand, spans all the interactions and touchpoints. From initial contact i.e., the discovery stage, to the post-purchase stage of the buyer journey, the experience is ongoing.

Customer service is reactive, while customer experience is proactive

Another key difference between customer service vs customer experience is the party leading the process.

The customer experience strategy involves anticipating the needs of future customers before building your sales funnel.

You leverage tools such as journey maps, website analytics, customer feedback, and even A/B testing to streamline the entire customer experience.

This approach is proactive because you foresee potential friction points and eliminate them, thus creating an experience that aligns with customers’ expectations.

Customer service, however, is initiated by the customer.

When customer X encounters a pre-sale or post-sale problem, they contact the customer service team via their preferred channel, e.g., email, live chat, or call. The support team then reacts to the complaint by providing a solution.

Customer service is owned by the CS team while customer experience shares ownership across departments

The concept of ownership here refers to the team responsible for each process.

The customer support agents are responsible for the prompt response, showing empathy, and providing solutions when customers seek support. Thus ownership here is retained solely by the customer-facing departments.

Overall, customer experience is a shared responsibility borne by all departments in the organization. Each department from product management to the sales team, must go above and beyond to meet customer expectations.

Which is more important: customer service or customer experience?

The honest answer? Both.

Both concepts, albeit different, are major pillars for business success.

No customer will have a good experience if your support is poor. Neither will good customer service make them stick with your business if their daily experience with your product is frustrating [no matter how great your support is].

Customer service and customer experience are intertwined and must be taken seriously to cement your credibility and fast-track business growth.

How to measure customer service and customer experience [KPIs]

Measuring the impact of your service or overall customer experience is not a linear process. There are many ways to track the success of both efforts and pinpoint what areas need improvement.

Measuring customer service success

Below are the vital metrics you should track to determine your customer service success.

  • Net Promoter Score [NPS]: this metric measures user sentiment. It involves asking customers to rate the likelihood of them recommending your product to a friend— on a scale of zero to 10.
calculate Net Promoter Score to determine customer service vs customer experience
  • Customer Satisfaction Score [CSAT]: this metric is used to measure customer satisfaction from a product or interaction with your company. You’ll obtain your CSAT score by asking customers to rate their overall satisfaction with your product on a scale [of typically 1 to 5].
  • Ticket First Response Rate and Resolution Time: with this metric, you can measure how fast your customer service teams respond to customers’ complaints. The resolution time is the duration from when a customer first initiates contact to when the ticket [issue reported] is marked as resolved.

Measuring customer experience

Customer experience metrics you should constantly monitor to gauge how a customer interacts with your brand include:

  • Customer Effort Score: CES reflects the level of effort required for a customer to use your product/service; a low score, in this case, reflects an optimized customer experience.
  • Retention Rate: Your retention rate tracks customer loyalty by measuring the percentage of customers who stick with your brand after a specific period.
  • Customer Churn Rate: the customer churn metric measures the percentage of customers you lose after a given duration.
  • Customer Lifetime Value [LTV]: this is the average revenue generated from one customer throughout their entire relationship with your business.
Customer service vs customer experience KPIs
Image Source: Lumoa

How to deliver great customer service

Delivering great customer service is all about putting the customers first. But how do you achieve this when you’re fielding calls from hundreds of disgruntled customers?

Offer self-service options

Customer service is more than email tickets and live chat sessions. Of course, some users will always need direct interaction with your support team, but some don’t.

Including in-app self-support options in your customer care plan will significantly reduce resolution time and support costs.


Because there’s a vast body of knowledge to help them resolve any issue in-app, instead of waiting in line to speak with a support agent!

Build an in-app resource center packed with chat, FAQs, guides, and tutorials. These self-support options should be directly accessible in-app because you don’t want to disrupt users’ flow within the product.

Here’s an example of how Userpilot makes video tutorials accessible to the users directly in-app using a Resource Center.

Userpilot in-app guidance boost customer experience
Build a Resource Center inside your app using Userpilot and without having to code.

How to improve the customer experience

Apart from driving repeated purchases, managing customers’ experience holds many benefits for companies across industries.

The two tactics I’m about to share work hand in hand to improve your customer’s experience as they flow through the buyer journey.

You must apply both strategies successively to drive the results you need.

Collect customer feedback to identify friction points

Customer feedback gives you insight into every customer’s journey. By collecting feedback from your users, you can understand what makes them happy and what makes your product difficult to use.

NPS surveys and other customer satisfaction surveys such as CES and CSAT will enable you to identify the friction points in your product.

Userpilot NPS survey for customer service vs customer experience
Collect NPS survey responses using Userpilot

Exit surveys are also efficient for understanding the reasons your customers leave.

Zoom exit survey
Source: Zoom

With exit surveys, you get a second chance to retain those users just before they churn by offering them alternative in-app experiences based on their survey responses.

Zoom exit survey follow-up
Source: Zoom

Remove friction with in-app guidance

Once you have identified customers’ friction points, you can implement in-app guidance to streamline their experience with those touchpoints the second time around.

Leverage in-app guidance patterns such as product tour tooltips and modals to help them discover and engage with important features that will add value.

Miro, for example, points users to where the guides are, reminding them that they have 24/7 access to the resources therein.

Miro tooltip
Source: Miro

You can expand the scope of your in-app guidance to include interactive walkthroughs that show users how to engage with a specific feature for the first time. Then place these walkthrough guides inside the resource center so that the user can trigger them on-demand.

An ideal example of in-app guidance is Kommunicate walking users through the process of bot customization.

Kommunicate interactive walkthrough
Interactive walkthrough built with Userpilot


Successful businesses understand that customer service and customer experience are mutually dependent.

Therefore, you should coach customer service agents on all the touchpoints involved in the customer lifecycle —technical and non-technical— so that they may provide expert advice and solutions to any user seeking support.

In addition, you must ensure to streamline customers’ interaction with all touchpoints in the buyer journey.

Get a Userpilot demo today and see how you can boost your customer satisfaction and have more loyal customers by delivering seamless customer service and in-app experiences.

previous post next post

Leave a comment