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Customer Success vs. Customer Experience: What to Know
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By: Mike Kaput

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January 17th, 2022

Customer Success vs. Customer Experience: What to Know

What is the difference between customer success vs. customer experience?

The difference might surprise you.

After all, these terms sound similar. But they're actually quite different.

And knowing the difference is the key to doing both customer success and customer experience right.

That's not all that will surprise you...

Because artificial intelligence can actually help you do both customer success and customer experience better.

Much, much better.

Here's how.

Customer success vs. customer experience: What's the difference?

Customer success is the process of helping your customers get what they want.

Customer experience is optimizing everything that happens in between them becoming a customer and them getting what they want.

Customer success focuses on particular objectives related to keeping current customers and getting new ones.

A customer success program focuses on helping each and every customer achieve exactly what they need to achieve with your product or service.

Customer success is a goal-oriented approach to customer happiness and, ultimately, customer retention.

It focuses on making sure that customers achieve their goals and that they are satisfied with your product or service.

Customer experience (CX), however, makes sure that current and prospective customers have a satisfying and seamless experience with your brand.

It includes everything from optimizing the customer's initial impression to maximizing the customer's satisfaction with the product or service.

This distinction is important.

Customer success teams and customer success managers have certain goals related to helping customers and making them happy.

Customer experience teams take a more holistic approach to optimizing the entire customer journey.

The customer success team and the customer experience team work together towards shared ends. But they are not the same.

What are the goals of customer success?

There are three key goals of customer success:

  1. Customer activation
  2. Customer retention
  3. Customer expansion

Customer activation means getting new customers to start using your product or service. After all, if there is no start to the customer relationship, there is no way for it to be successful.

Customer retention means keeping your current customers happy so that they don't leave you for a competitor. Customer success team members are often the first line of communication between customers and brands when there's an issue.

Customer expansion means getting current customers to use your product or service more. Customer engagement with a product or service is critical if you want them to see the value in what you offer.

All three are essential goals of any customer success strategy.

Too many customers stop doing business with brands because they don't reach their desired outcomes fast enough.

How to achieve customer success

There are three key steps to achieving customer success:

  1. Understanding customer needs
  2. Building customer relationships
  3. Providing customer support.

Understanding customer needs means figuring out what different customer segments want and need from your product or service. You can do this by asking them directly, observing their behavior, or using analytics to extract customer success insights from your data.

Building customer relationships means creating a connection with your customers and establishing trust.

You can do this by communicating with them regularly, providing valuable content, and responding to their feedback.

Providing customer support means being there for your customers when they need help.

You can do this by offering customer service support, creating a help center, and encouraging customer feedback.

What are the goals of customer experience?

Customer experience's goals are to create loyal customers, increase customer spending, and encourage customer referrals.

Loyal customers are more likely to stick with you over the long term, which means they'll be more likely to buy more products and services from you.

This is largely driven by creating an exceptional customer experience for every single person who buys from you or considers buying from you.

Increased customer spending means that you'll make more money from each customer.

This means increasing customer value for each transaction your brand conducts.

To do this, CX teams often leverage customer experience data to provide better personalization and product recommendations.

In turn, this more bespoke service makes customers happier and leads to more sales.

And customer referrals mean that you get your current customers to recommend you to new customers.

It's good old fashioned word-of-mouth advertising that stems directly from providing each person with a positive customer experience.

How to achieve a great customer experience

There are three key steps to achieving a great customer experience:

  1. Create a great first brand impression
  2. Provide a great experience from first touch to post-sale
  3. Encourage and act on customer feedback.

Creating a great first impression means creating an exceptional first-touch experience for leads and customers the moment they interact or buy from you.

You can do this by providing existing and prospective customers with valuable content and a seamless, intuitive digital experience during every customer interaction.

For current customers, this is done by crafting a good customer onboarding and responding promptly to feedback—areas that will involve close collaboration with customer success.

Providing a great customer experience means giving your customers what they want and need. You can do this by using customer segmentation, providing personalized service, and using feedback to improve your product or service.

Encouraging feedback means asking for it, responding to it, and actually using it to improve your offerings as quickly as possible.

How can AI improve customer success and customer experience?

Today, AI can actually augment customer success and customer experience teams.

AI is when machines perform intellectual tasks that humans can do, like talk, write, make recommendations, and make predictions.

These capabilities come in handy in customer success and customer experience.

Using AI-powered customer success software or customer experience tools, you can:

  • Field every customer conversation with intelligent chatbots, so no customer is neglected.
  • Recommend highly relevant content to prospects and customers, no matter where they are in the customer lifecycle.
  • Improve customer loyalty with highly personalized offers and rewards.
  • Better understand customer behavior with AI-powered insights extracted from massive amounts of customer data.
  • Improve customer outcomes by using intelligent assistants to augment human-driven customer success work like answer questions and troubleshooting issues.
  • And much, much more.

To learn how, join us for a free 30-minute online class called Intro to AI for Marketers.

It's a live class hosted by Marketing AI Institute, the leading provider of actionable AI education for marketers.

In it, our CEO (and marketing AI expert) Paul Roetzer, will teach you:

  • What AI is, and why it matters to marketers.
  • How to identify AI use cases.
  • How to find and evaluate AI technology vendors.
  • How to classify AI applications within the five levels of the Marketer-to-Machine ScaleTM.
  • What business outcomes AI can help you achieve. 
  • How to measure the value of AI tools on your company’s efficiency and performance.
  • How to prepare your team for piloting and scaling AI.

Reserve your spot now by clicking below.

Get the Beginner's Guide to AI in Marketing

About Mike Kaput

Mike Kaput is Chief Content Officer at Marketing AI Institute.

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Disclosure: Marketing AI Institute writes about and recommends AI-powered marketing and sales technology. In all cases, content and recommendations are independent and objective. In some cases, Marketing AI Institute may have business relationships with companies mentioned, which may include financial compensation, affiliate compensation, or payment in kind for products or services. View a list of Institute partners here and MAICON sponsors here.