Feb 9, 2018

3 min

Customer Experience & Customer Success: Are they the same?


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Last week our VP of Product and Customer Success, Abby Hammer, spoke on a panel at the MarTech Magnified Conference, that was titled- “Customer Experience, Customer Success, Customer Retention: Are they all the same?”. Also represented on the panel was- Cary Cusumano, CX Strategist at Verizon Enterprise Solutions, Nancy Porte, VP Global Customer Experience at Verint, and Michael Peterson, SVP Customer Success and Operations at Echo360.

It was an engaging discussion, and we’d like to share with you some of our thoughts on the topic of customer experience vs. customer success – if they are different or the same.

First, let’s start with the definitions.

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

This is a very distilled down definition. Obviously, there’s a lot of factors that play into where a customer lands with their perception of your company. Some of these factors include- your brand messaging, the sales/buying process, engagements with your staff as a customer, the perceived value of your product, and the overall usability.

On the other side of this discussion is Customer Success (CS). Customer success is defined as when a customer achieves their desired outcome through their interactions with your company.

This definition is also very succinct. Just as there are multiple factors that come into play when examining CX, there are also many factors that drive customer success including- customer fit, on-boarding and training, product usage, and return on investment.

One notable distinction between these two definitions is although both are from the viewpoint of the customer, the first is focused on the overall impression a customer has and the latter is focused on the end results (or lack thereof) of those interactions.

Next let’s look at the differences between CX and CS.

If you look at CX roles they typically tend to fall in the B2C world, while CS roles are more so in the B2B world. Why is that? While the principles driving each role are for sure transferable between individual consumers as well as business consumers, it more so lies in the justification of the purchase.

When an individual consumer is looking to make a purchase, those decisions are done to fill a need or want but mostly also to have an enjoyable experience with that product or service. On the flip side of that, having an enjoyable experience with a vendor in the B2B world isn’t going to make the cut in validating the purchase. Your employer will want value to be realized as well as see a return on that investment.

This validation distinction is what drives the difference between CX and CS. At the end of the day CX is focused on creating a positive experience while CS is focused on achieving continued success.

Now let’s look at the similarities between CX and CS.

One of the main similarities of these two disciplines is that the customer is at the center of the business. That means that there is a shared goal of understanding the customer to better to manage their journey with your company to help make them a loyal customer.

Another similarity between CX and CS is that this shared goal of customer loyalty can and should be tracked and measured, which can be done through implementing a Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), Customer Effort Score (CES), and churn score.

As pointed out in the panel discussion- “the #1 most important factor in customer loyalty is reduction of customer effort.” (source: Harvard Business Review)

So whatever side of the CX/CS spectrum you land on, remember that the customer is at the heart of it all.

Customer Success Around the Web


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