Customer Experience vs. Customer Success – Similarities and Differences

by Jan 20, 2020

The terms Customer Experience (CX) and Customer Success (CS) are commonly used within the service industry. Sometimes CX and CS are used to describe the same or similar things and other times to describe complexly different actions, activities and outcomes. This definitions for each term and similarities and differences between CX and CS are described below.

By Jennifer MacIntosh & Tom Sweeny

Customer Experience (CX)

Customer Experience or CX is a strategy. 

A CX strategy defines the approach a company will use to influence customers behaviors and perceptions by creating specific customer experiences. Customer experiences may be influenced through product usage (User Experience | UX), person to person interactions, automated and self-help transactions and even perceptions about company policies.

Customer Experience is intended to endear customers to a company by nurturing positive customer perceptions about its products and services.  The expected outcome from CX is to create and retain long term customer relationships; increase the likelihood of expanding relationship value; generating brand affinity; influencing positive customer references and reviews.

CX is holistic and is not limited to product-only, sales-only or service-only factors.

Customer Success (CS)

Customer Success is an operational model.

A Customer Success operating model promotes practices across the entire customer-lifecycle including landing new accounts; onboarding, success planning; product adoption; health monitoring; retention and expansion.

Customer Success is intended to maximize customer retention and create opportunities for revenue expansion within the customer base by assuring that customers can attain tangible positive outcomes with the products and services they have purchased.

Customer Success transcends organizational silos such as Support, Professional Services, Training, Sales and Product Management and is not limited to specific organizations, teams, or roles.

Implementing CX and CS

A Customer Experience strategy and Customer Success focused operating model are complementary. 

A CX strategy should inform the organization about what it intends to do, the outcomes it expects and the methods by which these outcomes will be achieved.

The Customer Success Operating Model will describe the specific roles, responsibilities and practices a company will use to execute the CS strategy

Authors

Jennifer MacIntosh, Customer Experience Industry Advisor & ASP Board Member

Recognized as one of the Top Women Leaders in SaaS, Jennifer MacIntosh has over 20 years experience working with high-tech and financial services companies helping them to establish, lead, and grow their Customer Experience and Success practices. Jennifer is an advocate for the customer who builds transformational customer engagement, adoption and value realization services. She is passionate about helping companies leverage self-service and reuse knowledge to improve the customer experience while managing their organizational costs. Jennifer was most recently with Coveo and built their Customer Success, Experience, Training and self-service practices from scratch. Prior to Coveo, Jennifer was Founder and Principal of Okas Consulting, a global consulting practice. Jennifer has also held executive roles as a change agent who significantly improved the customer experience at Yahoo, Quest Software (Dell) and Cognos (IBM). Jennifer has deep knowledge and expertise in Analytics, Customer Experience, Support, Self-Service, and Knowledge Management.

Tom Sweeny, Founder & CEO, ServiceXRG

Thomas J. Sweeny is Founder and CEO of ServiceXRG. Mr. Sweeny is a researcher, writer and expert in IT Services, Support and Customer Success. He publishes extensively about service industry trends and best practices and helps leading companies retain customers and grow relationship value. Prior to founding ServiceXRG in 2004 he held the position of Research Director with Gartner Group, and established the research and consulting business unit for the Service and Support Professionals Association, now known as the TSIA. Mr. Sweeny currently serves on the Editorial Board of Software Executive Magazine and the Executive Advisory Board of the Association of Support Professionals.

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