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What's the Difference Between Customer Service and Customer Support

By Lia / June 10th, 2020

Aren't they the same thing? Even experts can have a difficult time differentiating between customer service and customer support. But, it's essential to get right if you're serious about offering your customers the best possible experience. For most companies, there is going to be an overlap between the two, where a customer support team will be on hand to resolve a short-term technical issue while customer services is tasked with build long-lasting relationships and partnerships.

Most successful businesses will agree that one of the best ways to support your customers is to not only provide excellent technical support but also to focus on customer service. This goes beyond solving the issue at hand and extends to adding in the human element, such as a follow-up or additional advice that will support the customer going forward. And together, customer support and customer service can be what convinces customers to choose your company over another.
What is customer support?
Customer support is the services you offer to help your customers get the optimal use and functionality from your product or service. This can range from purchase choices, training, installation to maintenance, and any troubleshooting. Another way to think of it is technical support.

Your customer support team are experts in the products and services that you offer, and thus require deep technical expertise coupled with people skills to effectively engage with your customers and guide them towards a solution. The process starts when a customer reaches out - either through a call, email, or through one of your social media channels. And the process can be considered finished when the customer is happy with the support they have received.

It's generally not a time to push new products or services, but a good experience can be an opportunity for further conversations.
What is customer service?
Customer service is a term that covers all of your customer interactions, and the overarching goal is to enhance the customer's experience of the company, and it's service offering (and customer support is just a small part of this).

Customer service, therefore, goes far beyond directing customers to the company's support team. This may be the way to go if the customer has a specific product issue, but it could also mean helping website visitors over live chat, onboarding new customers, educating existing customers, following up with orders, answering questions on social media pages, and much more.
What are the key differences?
If you're still unclear about the functions, here's how you can identify some of the key differences between customer support and customer service:

Customer support provides technical assistance and troubleshooting where customer service helps the client to get more value from the products or services they have purchased.
  • Customer support is business-focused and primarily concerned with the proper functioning of the product or service, where customer service is customer-focused and concerned with customer satisfaction.
  • Customer support is a reactive response to a customer's query when they have an issue, where customer service is pro-active, guiding the customer on their journey with the company.
  • Customer support combines product or service knowledge with soft skills, where customer service uses soft skills (and will refer on if customer support is needed).
Focusing on the Synergies Between Service and Support for Customers
Both customer support and customer service are essential for building and maintaining customer relationships for the long-term and will result in improved loyalty, retention, and, ultimately, revenue. For businesses that focus on these two areas, there are rich rewards to be had. An increase in customer retention by 5% can increase profits between 25% and 95%. So, if a business can provide both, they are ideally placed to gain an advantage over competitors by offering a superior customer experience.

At first glance, they seem similar as they both focus on helping customers and use similar tools, such as email, chat, and phone. But customer service is the umbrella term with customer support forming one of the crucial roles underneath it. As the business landscape continues to evolve and becomes increasingly competitive, understanding these two functions and how they interact is going to play a important role in company profitability going forward.

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