If you’ve been using Customer support and customer service interchangeably for the better part of your life, it’s time to bring you to a “today I was years old” moment. First off, I’ve been doing this too and trust me when I say I’m not proud of it. Let’s see if we can’t explain this out of the ball park.
Customer Support vs. Customer Service: The confusion
The confusion with these two terms arises from the fact that they have too many similarities to distinguish them. But there is also another reason which we’ll get to in a bit. Let’s check out the similarities between customer support and customer service first,
- Both fields revolve around customers and their needs.
- Both depend on the same modes to communicate e.g. email, chat, and phone.
- They involve the use of similar skills to achieve goals.
- Both are crucial for the customer experience delivered by businesses.
Customer Support vs. Customer Service: The conflict
The second reason we mentioned earlier is the conflict between two competing notions. While one notion considers customer service as a broad umbrella term. In contrast customer support is considered to be a specific type of customer service.
The other notion is that customer support and customer service are two completely separate things. As in they may share similarities but due to distinct goals they are fundamentally not the same thing.
This conflict isn’t just among the lay people either. The whole customer interactive industry can’t seem to come to a consensus on this. Which is essentially why it’s such a challenge to make clear distinctions between the two.
Understanding what each means is one way to clear up the uncertainty.
What is Customer Support?
When we’re talking about customer support it actually comprises a range of customer service activities that assist customers to effectively and properly use a product or service.
It can be any sort of assistance from planning and training to installation, troubleshooting, and maintenance of a product.
Main characteristics of a customer support job include,
- Involves specific technical queries and relevant solutions
- Centered around a specific product or service
- Most prevalent in Digital and tech based businesses
What is Customer Service?
As far as customer service goes it mostly comprises the provision of company services for customers regardless of their purchase state. That is, service applies to before, during and after a customer makes a purchase.
Main characteristics of a customer service job include,
- Handling non-specific issues to maximize the overall benefits
- Takes into account the prospect of the whole enterprise instead of one product
- Essential in any kind of industry
So, what’s the Difference?
We’ve specified what each of the terms means in a broad way. Now let’s check out the subtle differences that might slip if you think about it.
Reactive vs. Proactive
Customer support is a reactive game. You are only needed to engage when a customer is specifically asking for help. It’s not necessary to anticipate issues although it can be beneficial. On the level of execution this could be considered a fundamental difference.
Because customer service is a proactive game. You have to build product to product or service to service connections that your customers won’t be able to make during the purchase or check out process. The purpose here is to maximize a customer’s gains from doing business with you.
Technicality vs. Relation and Perception
Customer support deals strictly with technical issues and revolves around reducing the technical drawbacks of a product. It’s all about making sure the customer can avail the benefit they paid for when they purchased from you.
Customer service does kind of a similar job, but it involves the facets of your whole business instead of just one product. Your company or business isn’t a random collection of products or services. Ideally they ought to be interconnected to deliver a unique experience for your customers.
Customer service is supposed to enable this process of connecting a product’s benefits with other benefits that your business offers (not necessarily as other products either). This connection is what intrigues customers, developing a relationship and shaping their perception of your enterprise.
Success metric: Efficiency vs. Satisfaction
This one is fairly obvious if you consider the fundamental difference in motivation for customer support and customer service. While one is meant to enable effectivity the other is focused on fulfillment.
Hence, when measuring the success customer support teams rely on metric of efficiency. The logic is simple, as a support agent you need to solve hindrances, the more efficient your support strategy the better your performance.
On the other hand customer service teams rely on satisfaction metrics i.e. CSAT, FRT, FCT. These metrics help evaluate the customers satisfaction level from efforts of service agents in offering beneficial insights to them.
To make one last distinction, when you think of customer support their can be ups and downs in your efficiency and that can be explained away to some degree. But there is no way to work around poor customer service. If your service team is not performing well it’ll translate into almost every aspect of your business.
Not every business will adhere to what customer support and customer service means as we did in this blog. If these distinctions make it difficult to spot your job description in this post, it is completely okay! As long as you’re delivering quality service or proficient solutions that improve a customer’s experience with your business, definitions hardly matter.