Customer Service Vs Customer Support Vs Customer Success

Customer-facing teams have never been more essential. Very critical to the growth and development of the company, there is no shortage of jargon being used to describe the teams serving their customers. In this blog, we’ll breakdown Customer Service, Customer Support, and Customer Success – what each term means and how they differ from each other.

What is Customer Service?

Customer Service can be defined as providing assistance to a customer before, during, and after the sale of a product or service. It is a larger, wider umbrella term that involves interactions between organizations and their customers to provide the latter with the enhanced customer experience leading to greater customer retention. 

The customer service department’s main duty is to engage customers and provide them with both – reactive and proactive support. While agents must have some sort of technical knowledge, they are more focused on communication that makes their customer’s lives easy and how the product or service might add value to them. Some important skills to excel at this job includes empathy, soft skills, and conflict resolution. 

Some examples of issues addressed by customer service agents may include helping customers choose the right product, helping find them the status of the order, onboarding new customers. This is also a good channel for upselling your services. 

In addition to the transactional metrics of Customer Support, to measure good customer service teams, some of the industry-wide KPIs are Customer Effort Score(CES), Net Promoter Score (NPS), Top Agents, # of Cross-selling opportunities, Customer Churn.

What is Customer Support?

Customer Support can be imagined as a subset of Customer Service. It is narrower and often more focused on the product or service. Customer support is “transactional” and initiated/closed by customers. 

Customer support agents often go by “technical support agents” and their main role is to provide ongoing support to technical problems with products and services. Some ways they support their customers is by troubleshooting, upgrading, maintaining their software/hardware setup, creating knowledge base articles.  These channels are not preferred when upselling because no one likes being sold to in the middle of technical difficulty. 

Other than strong technical skills of the product, these support representatives also need people skills and collaboration skills because they sometimes have to interact with product development and engineering teams for resolutions. 

Companies often track the following metrics to gauge the health of their Customer Support Teams – First Contact Resolution, CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Rate), Average Response Time, Total Wait Time, Resolution Time.

What is Customer Success?

Customer Success is a collaborative effort that ensures that the customer has optimum customer experience with the organization. It is about establishing, developing, and building relationships with your customers as opposed to solving customer issues.  It includes facilitating other customer-facing efforts to make sure customers stick with you and even bring you other business. This type of role usually is relationship-building over the complete customer lifecycle as opposed to transactional. 

Collaboration is essential in customer success as it is a company-wide effort rather than a single team. Typically you can expect Sales, Support, Service teams to be on such an engagement. An example would be a Customer Success Manager would working with the customer to ensure they are leveraging the newly implemented solution. 

This role requires agents to have managerial and leadership skills, interpersonal skills, problem-solving for best customer relationship management. 

Some of the KPIs to measure Customer Success is Portfolio Growth, Referral Count, Increase in Product Adoption.

How do the three roles differ?

A major chunk of the population often uses these terms interchangeably. Though they are on the same spectrum – they are quite different when it comes to assisting customers’ needs. Here is a look into the main differences:

FeatureCustomer SupportCustomer ServiceCustomer Success
ApproachReactiveBothProactive
TimelineShort TermShort TermLong Term
KPIs First Contact Response Time, Average Hold Time, CSATUpsell Opportunities, Churn, Customer Effort ScorePortfolio Growth, Customer Lifetime Value
FocusIssue ResolutionCustomer Satisfaction Relationship/Customer Goal Achievement
ResolutionTransactionalBothRelational
RevenueNoYes (sometimes)Yes
EffortSingle TeamSingle TeamCross-Functional Teams

Conclusion

Understanding the difference between customer service, customer support and customer success can be a challenge, but the bottom line is that all in a customer-centric organization the three are focused on the customer, but they approach customer care.

Eeshita Srivastava

Product at HappyFox. I like SaaS products, hikes, and Bon Iver.