What Is the Difference Between Customer Service and Customer Support?
Often, people interchangeably use customer service and customer support. But do they mean the same, or are they different?
Let us try and understand how customer service and customer support are different.
What is Customer Service?
Customer service deals with the entire customer experience addressing the customer needs throughout the lifecycle. Customer service teams provide service to a customer to get the most out of your product or service and to resolve their problems.
Customer service is for the long haul. It begins when customers show interest in your offer and continue for years after buying from you.
With customer service, the idea is to provide as much value as possible to the customer throughout the lifecycle.
You can engage with your customers in multiple ways while providing customer service – website, chatbots, messaging apps, email, voice, and social media.
What is Customer Support?
In contrast, customer support is far narrower and is focused on helping customers solve technical problems. Customer support includes answering customer questions, assisting with onboarding, troubleshooting, and upgrading customers to a new product or service.
Following what we have defined, customer support can be considered a part of customer service. However, the reverse is not valid.
Customer support is in the ‘here and now’ and looks at everything in the short term. The customers call you with a problem, and the support agent finds a solution and resolves it.
Customer support guides the customers through the appropriate steps to solve a problem or do it themselves.
Reactive vs. Proactive
Customer service and customer support have similar goals, and that’s where the confusion sets in. Customer support is reactive, while customer service is proactive.
This means you would require different skills to be in these functions.
Customer service agents will require different soft skills and essential software to complete their roles. Customer support agents will need problem-solving skills combined with knowledge of more technical software solutions.
Customer Support Vs Customer Service – Major Differences
Let us look at some critical differentiators between customer service and customer support.
|Differentiators||Customer Service||Customer Support|
|Specifics||Helpful, friendly service||Technical, in-depth knowledge of product/service|
|Metrics||Customer satisfaction, response times, first contact resolution, sales||Sales, customer churn, first call resolution, and operational business metrics|
|Verticals||All the verticals||SaaS, eCommerce, IT, and technology products|
|Skills||Soft skills, friendly nature, good customer-facing skills||Soft skills, problem-solving, ability to learn technical information and find solutions, product expertise|
|Software knowledge||Customer support software, email||CRM, customer support, and technical software|
|Channels||Knowledge of multiple channels and the ability to make sense of the available information||One specific channel is sufficient as long as technology and problem-solving skills are there|
Functions of Customer Service and Customer Support
Functions of Customer Service
Customer service representatives have a broad understanding of the business and its offerings. They don’t get into the finer details of how things work, but they are capable of answering basic queries on anything the business offers.
Some of the activities that customer service provides include:
- Making the buying process easy and accessible for customers
- Onboarding new customers
- Upselling and cross-selling based on the customer interactions
- Helping customers with value-based billing
- Assisting customers with delivery issues
- Ensuring adoption of the offering throughout the customer lifecycle management
- Engaging with customers on social media and mining social media for reviews and comments
- Resolving non-technical customer issues
- Collecting customer reviews, and feedback
- Building rapport with the customers
Functions of Customer Support
Whereas customer support is not a necessity for every business. For instance, the hospitality industry may not need customer support. However, for a software product company, customer support is the lifeline.
Customer support is a crucial function as they tend to be the face of your business and the first line of contact for your customers facing issues. Due to their continued exposure to customer issues, support can provide valuable input to product development teams.
Some of the activities that customer support provides include:
- Troubleshooting product issues for customers using voice, chat, emails, and video
- Train, install, maintain, and upgrade your offerings
- Create support resources like FAQs and knowledge bases
- Create product documentation
- Create help manuals
- Create use cases for different verticals
- Conduct adoption and usability research
- Provide input to product teams on features and usability
- Build rapport with customers
You can also check out our article on: 12 Contact Center Technology Trends
How Do You Measure Customer Service and Customer Support?
Customer service is measured by CSAT, NPS, and CES, besides customer churn rates, where customers are surveyed on business services and products.
For instance, questions like:
- How would you rate your overall satisfaction with the recently purchased product or service?
- How likely are you to recommend our product or service?
- How helpful was the customer service rep?
- How easy is it for you to interact with us and resolve your queries?
Customers are given a scale to record their answers.
Besides this, another subjective question to ask would be, have you ever considered moving to a different vendor? If so, why?
When we talk about customer support, we are talking about handling customers’ technical problems. You’d measure metrics like first response time, first call resolution, and average handling time to understand the success of customer support.
Here, the survey questions can be:
- Did you manage to get your issues addressed when you contacted the customer support team?
- Are you happy with the resolution provided by the customer support agent?
- How knowledgeable was the customer support agent?
- Did the customer support stick to the SLAs provided?
Pro Tips to Improve Customer Support and Customer Service
Here are the top 5 tips for improving customer support and customer service.
1. Provide an Omnichannel Platform
The omnichannel platform would help your customer service and support professionals. They would get to have a single view of your customers, irrespective of the channel they choose to interact with you. You would not miss any of the customer interactions – this can turn into opportunities and help make the overall customer experience exceptional.
2. Prioritize Self-Service Options
Most customers prefer to get their queries addressed immediately. Often, that doesn’t happen when they try to reach customer support or service teams.
The industry data states that nearly 60-70% of the queries are repetitive and transactional. You can easily create them as Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) or knowledge bases, which your customers can access themselves and resolve their queries.
This would also free up your customer service and support teams to handle complex queries that require attention.
This way, the customer gets their queries resolved faster.
3. Include Newer Channels
Be present in channels that your customers prefer. If more than 10 percent of your customers prefer to interact with you on social, then you have to be on social. Likewise, you must be present in all channels your customers choose to communicate from.
This not only allows you to provide better customer experiences but also grow your business, for the demography of your customers would love the fact that you are present in channels of their choice.
4. Act-On Customer Feedback
Most organizations do the hard yards in seeking customer feedback. But what do they do about them?
It becomes a part of the research data set, and often, they take remedial steps to overcome the challenges mentioned in the feedback. But, it is seldom communicated to those who gave the feedback in the first place.
Thank your customers for providing the feedback. For negative feedback, communicate clearly to your customers on what you are doing to alleviate the challenge. Follow through with them, and get them to use the changes you incorporate.
Check out our article on: How to collect customer feedback?
While there are differences between customer service and customer support, the end goal is to improve the overall customer experience and deliver exceptional customer outcomes.
It should ideally make your customers loyal and become evangelists of your product or service.
It is essential that organizations adopt a customer-first strategy, no matter how big or small they are.
In essence, work towards helping your customers and growing your business.
Should I be debating customer service vs customer support, or should I be talking about customer success and customer experience?
Request a demo from ClearTouch today to see how we can help your business stay ahead of the competition by keeping you up to date with the latest trends!