The Difference in Customer Service Versus Support

Anytime you surf through a website like Amazon or Wal-Mart, you’ll find customers writing about customer service, customer support, and customer success. Although each of these terms may sound similar or interchangeable, they’re definitely not. However, each of them is certainly connected to one another. Each term represents a different way of working with customers and when combined, create a remarkable customer experience that should result in greater customer loyalty which can include lifetime value. In the following article I’m going to provide a quick breakdown of the difference between each term, plus how you can use each to build stronger customer relationships.

Customer Support

Customer support is reacting to the needs of your customer when they tell you “I have a problem.”

Good customer support is about being there for your customers to resolve any problem that comes up, whenever it comes up. At its core, customer support is transactional, and the interaction both starts and ends by the customer. Think about GoDaddy’s support team. If you had trouble logging into your GoDaddy account then you would call their customer support team, describe the problem to their agent, and then undergo various troubleshooting steps. If the support representative can’t resolve your case, they’ll continue to follow up via email once they find a solution. With that in mind, customer support solves immediate customer needs. When someone has an issue with your product or service, they call customer support to fix that problem. Speed is key, and customers are expecting you to resolve their issue right away. In fact, roughly 67% of customer churn is avoidable if your support team can solve problems during the first interaction.

Customer Service

Customer service is saying to a customer “I have something for you” instead of the customer saying “I need something from you.”

Similar to customer support, you can observe customer service at almost any business. For example, let’s say that your call with GoDaddy customer support didn’t go so well and the login problem you’re having still persists. While you’re waiting for the customer support representative to look further into your case, you decide to visit the GoDaddy knowledge base to investigate the issue a little bit further yourself. There, you find resourceful self-service articles outlining potential troubleshooting steps.

After trying these steps, you’re still unable to login. Then, you return to GoDaddy’s homepage and find a banner at the top of your browser alerting you to a potential glitch. That banner links to GoDaddy’s incident report page which explains the issue and offers a timeline for when customers can expect it to be fixed. Both of these demonstrate how customer service can be used to be improve your customers experience. Customer service is all about guiding your customer to success. It’s much more proactive than customer support and should clear roadblocks before a user even knows you’re there.

Customer Success

Customer success is all about telling the customer “let’s be partners,” and working proactively together to achieve long-term goals.

Customer success should be initiated by the business, and it’s doing something that a customer might not have even known they previously wanted or needed. It requires anticipation which is why it’s important to create a customer journey map to locate optimal opportunities for intervention. But, that’s not all. Good customer success is also abut expanding value, for both the customer and the business at the same time. It might involve upselling or cross-selling by suggesting other products or services for a customer to work with. This way, your customer gets one step closer to achieving their goals while you reap the benefits of the purchase or upgrade.

Customer success can be seen as the culmination of customer support and customer service working together successfully. You’re also taking it to the next level by working in partnership with your customers.