When asked to explain the difference between customer care, success, and experience I explain my perspective in terms of a continuum.

  • Customer care (or service) relates to a company’s ability to respond appropriately to customer inquiries.  When a customer raises an issue, how capably can this team resolve the issue?  In relative terms, this is a narrow organizational function focused on reactive assistance. People filling this role need to understand how a product or service is designed to work.
  • Customer success relates to life-cycle product adoption.  It includes customer care, but also includes a more holistic view of customers.  People in this role are tasked with ensuring that customers attain their goals as they relate to product usage. People filling this role need to understand how a product or service works but also how it helps customers accomplish their objectives.
  • Customer experience is the broadest of functions and spans across the entire organization.  It includes things one normally defines within the marketing purview such as “brand” and “marketing.”  The customer experience also includes product definitions, sales readiness, professional services execution, post-sales support such as customer care, and customer success.  It may also include other disparate functions like billing and advertising. People filling this role need to understand how a product or service works and how it helps customers accomplish their objectives but also must consider the market, how customers buy, tangential areas of need and so on.

Each role is much different and the pool of qualified people shrinks as one moves up the value stack.  For example, finding people to influence and manage the customer experience is much more difficult than finding someone to address customer care needs.

The pivot point is that the terms must not be used interchangeably.  Each company has unique needs. One function of a customer leader is to determine which role is most needed for the given circumstances and to fill it with someone with the requisite skills.

The Customer Care, Success, and Experience Continuum

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