What is Customer Service Experience? Definition, Examples and Improvement Strategies


Customer service experience is defined as the perception or opinion a customer forms about the support a company provides during purchase and post-purchase cycle.

Customer service experience is the overall experience of a customer based on interaction with a company’s sales, support and service teams during and after a purchase. In this article we will explain what customer service experience means, why it is important for a business, strategies for improving service experience, with examples!

Sales and marketing can help you sell more but good service experience is the magnet that will keep your customers coming back to you, bringing more prospects with them. It has the power to make or break businesses and is one of the most critical elements of overall customer experience and retention over the long term. In this article, we explore and explain in detail what is customer service experience, why is it important, some examples and strategies for improvement.

Let us now find out what customer service experience entails and how can you perfect it!

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What is Customer Service Experience?

Customer service experience is the overall experience of a customer based on interaction with a company’s sales, support and service teams before, during and after a purchase.

Be it on the phone or in person, in-store, over social media or at a service center, each interaction a customer has with a company contributes to or takes away from their experience with it. Beginning from when someone is searching or exploring for a specific product they wish to purchase, to when someone buys something, everything from guiding them on finding the best-suited product to instructions on using it, to resolving issues, if any, falls under customer service.

Whether a customer feels satisfied and returns to a brand over time or walks away; or whether they recommend it to a friend or leave critical feedback for all, is dependent on the service experience a company provides. It is the only way to secure a customer, build loyalty, create ground for repeat purchase and ensure great word of mouth publicity. And as we all know, it is far more cost-effective to retain a customer over the long-term than to keep acquiring new ones.

For example, someone calls the customer service number of a telecom operator for a specific issue with their current phone bill. Instead of asking the customer about the entire identity details, keeping them on hold for several minutes, the call operator quickly just validates the details with a single CRN number. And then, straightaway gets to offering a solution to their current problem, making the customer feel at ease.

The operator is instantly able to rectify and re-issue their bill. Additionally, he sends the customer a compensatory credit for their next bill-cycle as an apology for the inconvenience caused due to the mistake in the billing process. This is undoubtedly a good service experience.

Studies suggest that customers stay loyal to companies for customer service quality more than for the product or price. PwC’s ‘Future of Customer Experience’ survey, conducted on 15,000 people from across the U.S. and 11 other countries, reports that 80 percent of Americans point to friendly service as one of the most important elements of a positive customer experience.

Here are some of the important ingredients you cannot afford to miss in your customer service efforts:

  • Ease of access to service
  • Speed of response to customer
  • Efficiency in resolving the issue
  • Effectiveness of the resolution
  • Friendliness of human or bot agents
  • Friendly user interface (whether its display or call)
  • Post service feedback and followup

As a matter of fact, longer shelf-life, expensive consumer durables demand stronger focus on service experience. For instance, while buying a car, apart from the design, model, features etc. you certainly check for the service experience reviews, service warranty, maintenance expenses and so on, before making a purchase.

Undoubtedly, the business benefits of focusing on providing great customer service experience are many. Let’s find out why is it so important.

Why is Customer Service Experience Important? 4 Key Benefits for Businesses

The kind of customer service experience a company provides determines how satisfied and loyal its customers will be in the longer run. It is also an important contributory factor in a business’ customer base growth and overall profitability.

Key business benefits of customer service experience

A 2018 PwC study, titled ‘ Future of Customer Experience Survey’ noted that globally, 32% of all customers would stop doing business with a brand they loved, after just one bad experience. In the US alone, 59% will walk away after several bad experiences, while 17% of people will turn their backs after a single bad experience. It is that critical to business success!

A 2018 PwC study, titled ‘ Future of Customer Experience Survey’ noted that globally, 32% of all customers would stop doing business with a brand they loved, after just one bad experience. In the US alone, 59% will walk away after several bad experiences, while 17% of people will turn their backs after a single bad experience. It is that critical to business success!

Here are the 4 key benefits that businesses are sure to witness as a result of great customer service experience.

1. Building customer trust and relationships

Extraordinary customer service experience is key to exceeding your customers’ expectations. When you make customers feel valued and support them through and beyond their buying journey, you set yourself up for customer satisfaction.

Additionally, this establishes a feeling of trust in your customers, as they associate better with a brand or company that makes them feel cared for. This results in long-lasting relationships between a brand and its customers. Customer relationships in 2020 and beyond are going to be all about trust, authenticity and relationships. Beyond the acquisition, customer service experience is the one guaranteed opportunity the brand has to build that trust and relationship as a differentiator from other brands.

2. Building loyal advocates and positive word of mouth

Today, businesses operate in a more dynamic and disruptive environment than ever, with customers exposed to multiple options and choices in almost every domain. With social media being a central playing ground for prospects and customers, bad news gets around faster than ever. On the flip side, satisfied customers do tend to act as loyal advocates of the brand on social media.

Word of mouth travels faster than any advertisement, so a happy customer is always your best advocate. While customer service experience failure may result in negative publicity of a brand, a satisfied customer is sure to stay loyal and bring in new prospects as well.

3. Building a strong brand differentiator

Companies that focus more on customer service experience along with having a great product always have an edge over their competitors. Consumers today have more options to choose from with several brands or companies offering similar products or services. This market expansion has changed the way how customers make buying decisions, with customer service as important an aspect as product quality and price. For example, why does a business traveller prefer one hotel over another, given that both have great rooms and similar pricing? It’s always the way they are made to feel, and the overall, often intangible ‘experience’ they have.

It only takes a single bad experience for a customer to switch to another brand. Through great customer service experience you can not only surpass competition but achieve consistent customer retention.

4. Building better products and services

Customer service reports and records are a great source of insight into customer journey, customer pain points and product or service usage patterns. Tuning into that insight and channeling it into product or service design can help build a more competitive offering, and contribute directly to savings, incremental revenues or even market-moving innovations. Both structured and unstructured data from customer service channels – be it the call centre, the online helpdesk or bots, social media pages – each is a rich source of intelligence that brands should leverage strategically to build a winning overall customer experience.

Examples of Good Customer Service Experience

Customer service involves helping customers through the purchase process, finding the right product, assembling or installing post-purchase (if need be), providing customer assistance on how to use it, resolving issues or complaints if any, and ensuring not just that they had a great buying experience, but are satisfied with the purchased product and its functioning. Here are some examples covering service excellence best practices and complaint handling to being proactively customer centric.

1. Seeing the silver lining in customer complaints – Virgin Atlantic

Richard Branson, Founder of the famous Virgin Atlantic says, “A complaint is a chance to turn a customer into a lifelong friend.” It is true that your response to unhappy customers matters the most and this popular case of Virgin Atlantic turning an unhappy customer into a lifelong ally proves it.

One unhappy customer who travelled first-class in a Virgin Atlantic flight, had written a hilarious yet deeply concerning letter addressed to Richard, over an in-flight meal served to him. In his letter, this passenger used light-hearted humor and wit to describe his disappointment on the meal. He used phrases such as ‘a sour gel with a clear oil on top’, ‘tomato next to the two yellow shafts of sponge’ and ‘miscellaneous central cuboid of beige matter’ to describe the food he was served. Despite being funny, the letter was disturbing, as it quickly went viral on media, and for all valid reasons.

The more interesting bit here, is how Branson responded. He not only apologized but invited this customer to be a part of the tasting panel for reviewing Virgin Atlantic’s menu. He also offered this passenger to be part of the board of the airline’s culinary council.

Offering an apology or resolving a concern is important but seeking collaboration from a distressed customer and making them a part of the resolution, is the extra mile that makes all the difference to customer trust and loyalty.

2. Reaching wherever the customers are – Tesla

Tesla is a remarkable example of providing convenience and timely service to customers whenever they need it, wherever they may be. If you own a Tesla car, you can be assured of prompt service anywhere and anytime, per your convenience. Even if you get stuck someplace with a flat tire, you know a single call will get you help in a matter of minutes.

Tesla also literally provides car servicing at home, at your convenience, rather than having a customer visit a service station and wait for hours together to get the job done. Here are a few snippets of how people are raving about Tesla’s mobile service facility on Twitter and how they’ve been truly delighted with it.


Customers value convenience and are even ready to pay a premium for the same, which is clear from Tesla’s high prices and the service experience it provides in return.

3. Excuses and explanations do no good to customer service – Ola

Customer service experience can also go wrong if the customer support executives or systems aren’t responsive or remain insensitive to the customer complaint, shirking it off with a blunt explanation rather than a real solution.

For example, someone booked an Ola cab for a specific distance but was wrongly charged by the driver, over and above the estimated ride fare. The customer complained about the same on the customer support chat, only to receive a flat response by the company’s customer support team taking no responsibility for whatever happened.

This customer shared her experience on Twitter, showing disappointment and in light of this incident, socially declaring that the rival, Uber is doing a better job. Here’s for you to see it!



Only if the cabbie would have been better engaged and trained on ethics or caring for a customer, or the customer support would have paid more heed to the case, offering an alternate solution or a part refund, this customer would probably have stayed, passing this as a one-off case.

Many businesses have survived the test of time just based on their strong customer service-oriented way of working. Of course, innovation and quality of delivery has always been important in business, but what good is it owning a product that doesn’t make the customer feel happy during or post the purchase!

Top Strategies to Improve Service Experience!

Top strategies to improve customer service experience

Ensuring great customer service experience is not a one-time activity. It is an ongoing effort. In fact, it is a way of life for businesses with customer-centricity as their motto. Just like Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos says, “We’re not competitor obsessed, we’re customer-obsessed.” This is how Amazon has been able to scale its business up across so many countries, delivering great customer experience. Here are some strategies for perfecting your customer service efforts.

1. Know your customer

It is basic hygiene for the customer services teams to have some insights on their customers. Microsoft’s 2017 ‘State of Global Customer Service Report’ stated that 72% of consumers expect the customer service agents to “know who they are, what they have purchased and have insights into their previous engagements.” It is achievable when you draw an outline of the different personas of your customers, segment service solutions based on preferences, and if possible have the technology in place to be able to offer personalized solutions based on an individual customers’ history accordingly, for your own quick reference.

For example, customer A is in the age group of 30-35, is tech-savvy (you may know this from past activities on your app or website) and prefers checking out your ready video tutorials or interacting with the chatbot. On the other hand, customer B is 45-50 years and mostly seeks to speak to a customer service representative, each time he needs assistance with something.

If your customer service executives have such customer information handy, they will be able to proactively provide better support to each kind of customer according to what mediums or level of conversations suit them.

2. Empathize and build an emotional connect

Businesses deal with people, and people have emotions. Many businesses lose out in customer service when they do not realize that customers are more than just data on accounting sheets. Its a real human experience they go through with brands and their products/services.By showing empathy to your customer you are ‘’humanizing’ your customer service experience.

As Damon Richards, a Customer Service Expert mentioned on Forbes, “Customers do not care how much you know unless they know how much you care.”

Zappos is one example of how a business can truly build a connect with its customers. Its CEO, Tony Hsieh, replies to each mail or message personally, and there are many stories that show how the company has been valuing its customers. In one such case, a customer reached out to Zappos explaining she couldn’t return a pair of shoes in time because her mother passed away. When Zappos got to know about it, they not only took care of the return shipping free of cost, but the next day, they sent a bouquet of flowers with a note for condolences from the Zappos customer service team.

Zappos, through such real emotional, connects with its customers, has not only scaled up its business over these years, but has won hearts – and loyal followers – in doing so.

3. Balance automation with human touch

Certain aspects of customer experience, that are more process-driven, can be well automated, increasing the speed and efficiency of service. For example, a chatbot for customer support can help your customers with basic FAQs or with demo or instructions on how to use a product, or solve basic complaints if programmed for the same.

However, there’s a limit to how much automation can handle on its own and also to what extent your customers are satisfied with the automated responses. Most people after a point prefer connecting with a real person to share their concerns than telling a machine about it.

A 2017 study by American Express, titled ‘2017 Customer Service Barometer’ says that for more complicated interactions, such as payment disputes, 40% of customers prefer talking to a real person over the phone.

Supporting this fact, Microsoft reports that 30% of consumers globally, agree that not being able to reach a real human is the most frustrating part of a bad customer service experience.

This shows that although automation can improve customer service efficiency, it will never be able to fully replace what humans can bring into providing a great customer service experience. Businesses need to acknowledge this and strike a balance between the two for ensuring a seamless customer service experience.

4. Empower your employees

The responsibility to ensure good customer service experience cannot just rest in the hands of a few decision makers. As Tony Hsieh of Zappos says, “Customer service should not be a department. It should be the entire company.” Good service experience across levels is possible only when each employee is able to see the bigger picture in how they can contribute to creating customer delight.

Businesses should empower their customer facing employees, allowing them authority and freedom to decide for themselves when they need to go the extra mile to make a customer feel satisfied.

The Ritz Carlton Hotel is a solid example of how empowered employees can do a great job in customer service. Author John Di Julius describes his experience from his stay at The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota, where he had accidentally left his laptop charger. Here’s what he says about what happened after. “I planned to call when I got back into my office, but before I could, I received a next-day air package from The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota. In it was my charger, with a note saying, ‘Mr. DiJulius, I wanted to make sure we got this to you right away. I am sure you need it, and, just in case, I sent you an extra charger for your laptop.” The note was signed by Larry K. Kinney, in Loss Prevention.”

This was possible because, every employee at the Ritz-Carlton group is authorized to spend up to $2,000 per day to improve guest experience. More than the monetary allowance as with Ritz-Carlton’s employees, it is also about how well you engage them and how authorized they feel to take spontaneous decisions when in a situation with a customer.

5. Seek employee feedback for customer service improvement

Employee feedback is as important to customer service experience as customer feedback. While there’s a lot that business do to measure the latter – through Net Promoter Score (NPS) and other surveys, many companies miss out on studying employee feedback.

Don’t wait for the formal performance appraisal conversations with the customer service employees but capture their experiences, thoughts and ideas on a regular basis to see if they are well engaged or well supported by the organization to be able to do their jobs well.

Many companies already invest in assessing phone and email communications of their executives with customers and provide them trainings for improvement, if need be. But, having one-on-one conversations with them or tracking their day-to-day challenges and being sensitive to their concerns, will reveal more to you about your customer-employee relationship as an employer. To let your customer service executives make your customers feel valued, you need to first help them feel cared for.

Learn More: Top 6 Customer Experience (CX) Strategy Best Practices for 2020