Editor’s note: A version of this article appeared on Shep Hyken’s blog and is adapted here with permission.

What does a good customer experience look like at your company? What does good customer service look like? Ask everyone on your team and listen to the answers. Will they be the same, or different? Does your team recognize the difference between experience and service—and does it matter? 

Experience, when it comes to business, is the entire experience. While it includes customer service, which is a big part of the overall experience, it is also how your offerings are packaged, your advertising and marketing messages, and more. It’s the entire experience. It’s every interaction, human or otherwise, that you have with the brand.

Then there is the definition of customer service. Sure, it may be the “department” that customers go to when they have a problem, but it also includes every contact the customer personally has with anyone they encounter in your company. It’s focused on people interacting with people. There’s more to it than that, but for this conversation, let’s stick with these simplistic definitions.

Does your team recognize the difference between experience and service—and does it matter?

As mentioned, knowing the difference between service and experience really doesn’t matter. What’s important is for everyone to know how they contribute to the customer’s experience. Some employees interact directly with the customer. They help drive the customer service, which as mentioned, is also a big part of the customer experience. Then, some employees don’t have any interaction, but what they do behind the scenes impacts the customer’s experience. It is important for every employee to know the role they play with customers.

All of this is leading to the concept of your brand and its reputation. I recently had a chance to sit down with Brian Chaput, the director of offering management at IBM, and he made a statement that summarizes this well: “Your brand is the sum of all your customer interactions.”

He nailed it in 10 words!That’s experience and service, all rolled up into one. And the outcome is the perception of your brand’s reputation — and everyone has a supporting role in that perception. Everyone has some impact, in some way, on the customer’s experience.

So, does everyone in your organization know how they fit into the customer experience? Are they on the front line, delivering service directly to the customer? Are they behind the scenes, doing something that impacts the customer experience? There is customer service and customer experience. Sometimes they are the same, and sometimes they aren’t. But, to the customer, it doesn’t matter.

A version of this article by Shep Hyken appeared on his Customer Service BlogYou can read the full version here.

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