Episode 023 – The Difference Between Customer Success and Customer Experience


I am going to be delivering a webinar later this week for a partner and our initial conversations were around moving from Customer Success to Customer experience.

It seems that Customer Success has a wide range of definitions, as does Customer Experience. So I thought it was important to differentiate the two and show you how they can work in tandem.

Customer Success, as first described to me, is when the customer is successful in their efforts and outcomes in using the purchased product or service. Boiled down, the customer received what they paid for. The product or service accomplished the promised goal or outcome the way it was promised.

Customer Success (CS). Customer success is defined as when a customer achieves their desired outcome through their interactions with your company.

This is a bare-bones definition.

Customer Experience, in my opinion, and seems to coincide with the vast majority in the CX space, is that the Customer Experience is the umbrella which covers everything and anything about how the customer feels about the way you work with them. It includes your marketing, your front line customer service skills, the processes, the paperwork, the actual purchase and payment, the support after the sale, and ultimately, were the able to do what they wanted to do with your product or service – was your product or service successful in helping them do what they wanted to do.

So therein it seems that Customer Success is really the support on how to use the product or service, troubleshooting, helping resolve issues in the process, guiding them along the way and setting them up for success in how they use it.

There is nothing mentioned about how they FEEL during the process other than if they were successful with their intent.

Following this thread then, Customer Success is more product or service oriented. It is transactionally focused. The focus in on how to get the customer from start to finish. Now, that’s not to say that customer success doesn’t involve training customer service skills, being professional, or anything like that, but is mainly focused on making sure the product or service does what it says it will do. 

It falls into the category of Customer Service, in my option. As I mentioned back in the first episode of this podcast, it is more reactive. It’s responding to specific questions or problems encountered with the actual use or implementation of the product or service. You are focused on the outcome, not the journey.

CX is the way you decide to run your customer success goals

Forrester Research defines customer experience (CX) as how customers perceive their interactions with your company.

CX, is strategic. This is the way the company operates intentionally and considering the way they want the customer to perceived and feel about the organization at large, not just this specific purchase or product.

CX is proactive. CX is intended to incorporate the “Back of House” components – the culture, the core values, the specific hiring and training of the best individuals to represent the company and display the core values and intentional behaviors set by leadership.

Back in episode 1, we spent some time discussing the benefits of having a strong CX program and strategy. This feeds directly into how your customer success team helps your customers achieve their goals. That customer success team is displaying the culture and core values in everything they say and do. 

CX is focused on the customer and employees as people since they are the ones driving the experience with how they represent and use the product.

So, I hope this helps differentiate the two. Bottom line… customer success is contained within the customer experience. it is part of the experience. It needs to feed into and feel similar to the other ways your customers work with other departments during their journey and interactions with your organization.

So please email me your questions about customer success or the CX. I’m curious to know what you think and how your organizations have defined these and how that has or hasn’t made an impact.

Email me at Kristina@KristinaEvey.com with your questions about anything and everything CX related as I use these to help shape relevant podcasts for you.

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