The terms “customer service” and “customer support” are often used interchangeably. While both address client needs, they often refer to distinct roles in customer interaction. Generally, when comparing customer service vs customer support, the former addresses client needs as a whole, while the latter is limited to handling technical assistance.
By appreciating the unique contributions of each, companies can craft a synergistic customer-centric approach.
Delve deeper into this article to gain a comprehensive understanding of each term. Discover the differences between customer service vs customer support and see how they work in tandem to foster a superior customer experience.
At its core, customer service revolves around the interactions that foster a positive, holistic relationship between businesses and their customers.
Almost all businesses prioritize customer service. It encompasses all actions taken to cater to customer needs and exceed their expectations. Its primary objective is to ensure that customers extract maximum benefits from a product or service.
Research indicates that 90% of customers choose their brand after being influenced by customer service. Achieving good customer service can present numerous challenges for businesses, especially if their customer service teams are not well organized or their phone systems lack flexibility.
Let’s take a closer look at the nuances of customer service.
The main functions of customer service include:
💯 Customer service is not just about solving problems — it is also concerned with enhancing the customer’s overall experience with a brand.
Customer service thrives on the human touch. It’s about empathizing with customers, understanding their emotions, and ensuring that they feel valued. Representatives often act as the face or voice of a brand, embodying its values and promises.
In order to streamline their customer service operations, businesses leverage:
🧰 These tools provide valuable insights into customer preferences and pain points, enabling more tailored and effective interactions.
Customer support zeroes in on providing technical assistance and addressing product- or service-specific issues.
Customer support interactions are typically responsive and immediate. Often, a customer initiates contact in order to address an issue, and the support representative provides or suggests a resolution. These agents either resolve the issue directly or walk customers through the necessary procedures.
While many industries like SaaS, IT, and eCommerce heavily rely on customer support, not all require it. For instance, restaurants prioritize customer service and usually don’t provide technical assistance to their customers.
Here’s what sets customer support apart.
Customer support delves into the nitty-gritty of products and services:
Support teams are trained to address bugs, guide product usage, or help with installation or setup processes. In other words, customer support is about technical proficiency.
Support teams often utilize:
🛠️ These tools help keep track of customer issues, provide a repository of common solutions, and ensure timely and effective problem resolution.
While customer support and customer service both aim to enhance the overall customer experience, the nature of their interactions distinguishes them from each other. Customer support responds to specific issues and inquiries, making it reactive. In contrast, customer service takes a proactive stance, anticipating needs and ensuring overall satisfaction.
The different purposes of these two disciplines also mean that they require individuals with different skill sets. A customer service agent, for instance, often needs strong interpersonal and communication skills to ensure positive interactions. Familiarity with essential CRM software is always a plus.
On the other hand, customer support representatives need to possess robust problem-solving capabilities. A deeper understanding of technical software tools used to address product- or service-related concerns is preferred.
🎯 Both disciplines play integral roles in shaping a brand’s image and reputation. The nuances in their operations further cement the need for specialization in each.
☯️ Although they serve different purposes, customer service and customer support together form the backbone of a robust customer-centric strategy. It’s essential for brands to recognize these differences and ensure that both teams are well equipped and trained to fulfill their specific roles.
To get a clearer perspective on how these roles diverge in terms of skills and tools, refer to the graphic below.
Here are the main commonalities shared by customer service and customer support.
While both disciplines have their distinct responsibilities and objectives, there are some scenarios where they inevitably intersect. Navigating these intersections is essential, as it requires a fluid transition between customer service and customer support to ensure that the customer’s holistic needs are met.
Let’s explore some scenarios in which customer service and customer support harmoniously coexist to enhance the overall customer experience.
📞 Example: A customer calls, frustrated about a product not working. While initially in need of empathy (service), they also require troubleshooting (support).
🤳🏻 Example: A client might call for technical help (support) but also express concerns about the product’s overall usefulness, leading to a service-centric conversation.
🧑💻 Example: A customer may face technical problems with a product (support) but is also upset about its late delivery (service).
Progressive companies are increasingly embracing a more integrated methodology combining the strengths of both customer service and customer support. This “holistic” approach aims to provide a seamless, all-encompassing experience for the customer. It should be able to eliminate the need for disjointed interactions across departments.
Let’s see how merging service and support can revolutionize the way businesses engage with their customers.
👍 Benefit: Representatives are versatile and can handle a broader range of customer inquiries.
👍 Benefit: Streamlined operations ensure that all customer data and history are in one place, facilitating better, more informed interactions.
👍 Benefit: Customers feel valued when their concerns are addressed without the inconvenience of departmental transfers; that way, efficiency is maximized.
Here are a few instances showcasing how businesses have seamlessly merged customer service and customer support for enhanced efficiency.
Image source: apple.com
Apple‘s in-store Genius Bar offers personalized assistance, helping customers with purchase decisions based on their needs and providing overall guidance. The same Genius Bar also assists with technical issues, repairs, and troubleshooting for Apple products.
Image source: amazon.com
Amazon‘s easy-to-navigate platform allows users to track orders, make returns, and communicate any issues or concerns. Their chatbots often address general queries, enhancing the shopping experience. If there’s a technical glitch, whether in payment processing or a Kindle device, their technical team steps in to assist users.
Known for its stellar customer service, Zappos ensures that customers have a great shopping experience, with representatives going above and beyond to assist. If there’s an issue with the website or with processing an order, Zappos’ support team is on hand to address these technical concerns.
Image source: support.spotify.com
For general inquiries or account-related questions, Spotify‘s customer service team assists users effectively. When it comes to technical glitches, app malfunctions, or integration with other devices, Spotify’s support team takes the lead.
In compact businesses, a single individual might shoulder the responsibilities of both customer service and customer support. However, larger entities often draw a line between them by employing dedicated teams. What’s important is that businesses integrate both fields seamlessly to ensure a cohesive customer experience.
Elevate your customer service game with Touchpoint as your central hub. That way, you’re ensuring a consistent experience, whether customers reach out via call, email, or live chat.
Dive into Touchpoint’s expansive omnichannel features and set the stage for unparalleled customer satisfaction. Take the leap now and redefine what exceptional service looks like.
Content Marketing Manager, passionately blending her expertise in content strategy, UX, and data analysis to drive impactful results. With a keen eye for SEO strategies, Cezarina focuses on optimizing content for maximum visibility and audience reach.
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