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Customer Success vs Customer Experience – Is It the Same?

In the world of customer-centric business strategies, two terms frequently pop up, often used interchangeably but embodying distinct concepts: Customer Success (CS) and Customer Experience (CX). This has led many to wonder: Is customer success the same as CX? What are the nuances between the two? And while we’re at it, how do they differ from customer support and service?

In this article, we’ll explore the differences between customer experience vs customer success, as well as various customer feedback methods to measure their effectiveness.

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The Great Debate: Customer Success vs Customer Experience

At first glance, CX/CS might seem like two peas in a pod, but they’re more like siblings – related but with their own personalities and roles. Let’s dive into the differences and how each contributes to the overarching goal of customer satisfaction.

What is Customer Experience (CX)?

Imagine going on a first date. You choose a cosy restaurant, the ambience is just right, the food is delicious, and the service is impeccable. That’s CX – the sum total of all interactions a customer has with your brand, from the moment they first hear about you, through purchasing and using your products or services, to the follow-up communication afterwards. It’s all about the feeling your internal customers get throughout their journey with your brand.

What is Customer Success (CS)?

Now, let’s say your date went so well that you decided to become partners. In this scenario, CS is your commitment to ensuring your partner is not just happy but thriving with you over the long haul. In the business context, customer success focuses on helping customers achieve their desired outcomes while using your product or service. It’s proactive, with a long-term perspective aimed at fostering growth for both the customer and your business.

Customer Experience vs Customer Success: The Key Differences

What is the difference between CX and CS? While customer experience encompasses the entire spectrum of a customer’s interaction with your brand, customer success zeroes in on ensuring those interactions lead to successful outcomes.

“Customer experience is about the journey. Customer success is about the destination.”


Expert CX Consultant, Staffino

What Is the Difference Between Customer Success and Customer Support?

Another area where terms get muddled is between customer success and customer support. Think of customer support as the emergency services – they’re there when something goes wrong, ready to solve problems and put out fires. Customer success, on the other hand, is like a personal trainer – there to ensure you’re achieving your goals, avoiding potential issues before they arise.

Customer Support

  • Reactive: Waits for you to raise the flag before swooping in to save the day.
  • Problem-focused: Concentrates on solving specific issues that have already occurred.
  • Transactional: Interactions are usually one-offs; think of it as a “hit it and quit it” relationship.
  • Measured by: Resolution time, customer satisfaction scores post-resolution.

Customer Success

  • Proactive: Reaches out to you with tips and tricks before you even realise you need them.
  • Goal-oriented: Focuses on helping you achieve your objectives with the product or service.
  • Relational: Builds a long-term relationship and grows your base of NPS promoters.
  • Measured by: Customer retention management effectiveness, upsell/cross-sell rates, and overall customer lifetime value.

What is the difference between customer experience and customer service? 

Similarly, customer experience and customer service are often confused. If we continue with our relationship analogy, customer service is the thoughtful gestures and support you offer throughout the relationship. It’s reactive, addressing specific issues or queries as they come up, i.e. closing the loop. Customer experience, however, is the overarching quality of the relationship, shaped by every single interaction, both big and small.

Customer Service

  • Reactive: Like a superhero, it appears when you need it, like when shopping for a product or contacting a call centre.
  • Issue-specific: Focuses on the immediate situation at hand, like in-store checkout, helping you find the right product, or navigating you on how to start your new washing machine over the phone.
  • Direct interaction: It’s the face-to-face, or voice-to-voice, moments that define this relationship.
  • Measured by: Customer satisfaction with the service, speed of resolution, and sometimes how many times they didn’t have to press “0” to speak to a human.
This is an example of a customer satisfaction score (CSAT) question in a CX survey with 5-point star rating.

Customer Experience

  • Holistic: Concerned with the entire journey, from the first ad you see to the unboxing, and every interaction thereafter.
  • Emotion-driven: It’s all about how you make the customer feel throughout their journey. Think of it as the difference between getting a coffee from a vending machine vs. a barista who knows your order. Our client, Lyreco, and their recent article are perfect examples of this.
  • Cumulative: Every touchpoint, whether it’s a marketing email, the product itself, customer service interactions, or the checkout process, contributes to the overall experience.
  • Measured by: Customer survey including Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) across the journey, Customer Effort Score (CES), and churn rate.
This is an example of an NPS survey question with rating scale from 0 to 10.

In essence, while customer service is a single chapter in the story, customer experience is the entire book. And just like any good story, every chapter, page, and line contributes to the reader’s (or customer’s) overall impression. Customer success, nestled within these concepts, ensures that the story not only meets but exceeds expectations, leading to a happily ever after.

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The Role of Customer Satisfaction Surveys in CX and CS

Understanding how your customers feel about their journey (CX) and whether they’re achieving their goals (CS) is crucial. This is where a customer satisfaction survey comes into play. A well-crafted customer survey can provide invaluable insights into both customer experience and customer success, highlighting areas of success and opportunities for improvement.

Customer Satisfaction Survey for Measuring Customer Experience

Typically, you’d send out a customer satisfaction survey right after a purchase, a support interaction, or another touchpoint (transactional survey). The goal? To capture your customer’s feelings while the experience is still fresh in their minds!

A screen showing a CSAT survey question about the pharmacist approach during the customer visit.

Here are some common questions for a customer survey:

  1. Overall, how would you rate your satisfaction with our [product/service]?
  2. How well did our [product/service] meet your expectations?
  3. How likely are you to purchase from us again?
  4. How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?
  5. What could we do to make your experience better?

Client Satisfaction Survey for Measuring Customer Success

The client success survey is more like a deep, meaningful conversation. It’s conducted periodically (think quarterly, bi-annually, or annually) to evaluate the long-term relationship between your clients and your business. It’s about understanding the value they derive from your product or service over time.

This picture shows a customer feedback questionnaire of Jungheinrich AG, who used strategic survey questions to identify customers who may be interested into upsell.

Here are some common questions for a client survey:

  1. How successful have you been in achieving your goals with our [product/service]?
  2. How would you rate the value for money of our [product/service]?
  3. How responsive have we been to your questions or concerns about our [product/service]?
  4. How well does our [product/service] integrate into your daily workflow?
  5. What can we do to improve your experience and help you achieve your goals?

Remember, the key to both surveys is not just in asking the questions but in what you do with the answers.

The picture shows Staffino's customer survey creator with drag-and-drop questions and other elements.

Enter Staffino, your ally in creating and distributing customer satisfaction surveys. With its user-friendly online platform, Staffino simplifies the process of gathering feedback, enabling you to tailor a customers satisfaction survey that captures the essence of both customer experience and customer success. Whether you’re looking to gauge the overall customer experience or the specific achievements of your customer success efforts, Staffino’s tools are designed to help you get the insights you need efficiently and effectively.

The picture shows a screen from the Staffino online platform displaying its CX dashboards with various widgets - including graphs, charts, numbers, and more.

Staffino is not just about collecting data; it’s about diving deep into customer sentiments and emerging actionable insights. With Staffino’s AI-powered CX dashboards, you’re equipped with the latest tech to understand your clients and customers. It helps you identify the most impactful changes for building customer loyalty and satisfaction.

In a nutshell, Staffino transforms the often overwhelming task of analysing customer feedback into a streamlined, insightful, and, dare we say, enjoyable journey. It’s not just about having data; it’s about knowing what to do with it. And with Staffino’s customer experience dashboard, you’re always one step ahead, ready to make those informed decisions that drive customer satisfaction and business success.

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Balance CX/CS for Ultimate  Success Today!

In the grand scheme of things, customer success and customer experience are two sides of the same coin, each playing a crucial role in fostering lasting customer relationships. By understanding and leveraging the differences between CX and CS, you can ensure they not only meet but exceed customer expectations at every turn.

With Staffino’s CX survey solution, you’re one step closer to keeping your customers engaged and satisfied. Are you ready to give it a try?

Don’t hesitate to schedule a free demo with our team to see how the Staffino survey platform works!