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Customer service vs customer support

What’s the difference between these two?

Because the terms customer service and customer support are often used interchangeably, distinguishing between the two can often be challenging.

Simply put, customer support is mostly about providing technical customer assistance by helping them resolve any issues they have with your products or services.

Customer service, however, is about providing value by helping customers make the most of your products or services.

Let’s dive into the details for a better understanding.

Customer support vs. customer service

Selecting the term customer support or customer service when naming a customer-facing department depends on two factors.

Firstly, what products or services a company sells.

Secondly, whether those products/services require ongoing technical customer assistance.

The name should ultimately reflect the activities of the agents representing it.

To sum it up, below are a few basic things to remember about customer support and customer service, and how you can tell the two apart:

Customer SupportCustomer Service
Involves straightforward assistance with technical problem solving and troubleshooting.Assists customers to get more value out of the product or service they purchased.
Implies responding reactively to a customer’s query whenever a customer has a problem with the product/ service.Implies proactive interaction and consists of a business guiding the customer throughout the entire journey.
Business-centric (concerned about the proper product functioning).Customer-centric (concerned about the customer’s satisfaction with the product).
Agents employ both hard skills (tech skills) and soft skills.Agents employ mostly soft skills, with no need for advanced tech skills.
Positions are mostly available in SaaS, tech, and e-commerce companies.Positions are available in any industry that serves customers.
Customer Support vs Customer Service Comparison Table

The role of customer support

Customer support services range from assisting customers in planning, installation, troubleshooting, maintenance, upgrading, to the disposal of your product.

The term ‘customer support’ is mostly related to teams in SaaS and tech companies dedicated to assisting customers regarding products and services that require ongoing tech support.

Customer support agents should have a deep knowledge of the products and services offered by their company. Their role may also include creating a customer support center articles.

Your online customer support center/portal can include;

  • Troubleshooting guides
  • Help manuals
  • FAQs
  • Use cases
  • Product feedback

Support teams often collaborate with product development teams to ensure improvement and optimization of the end-to-end customer experience.

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Apart from being product experts and having hard skills, customer support representatives should also possess certain soft skills and people skills to be able to communicate with customers effectively.

Some of the most critical KPIs (key performance indicators) a company should consider evaluating their customer support are;

  • Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)
  • Net promoter score (NPS)
  • Customer effort score (CES)
  • Customer churn rate

To learn more about how using NPS and CSAT can improve your customer satisfaction, read this article.

The role of customer service

Customer service can be defined as taking care of a customer’s needs by providing helpful assistance before, during, and after the sale of a product.

Unlike customer support, customer service is about supporting the larger, non-technical concerns of customers.

It involves all interactions between a business and a customer that are aimed at enhancing customer experiences and improving relations with the company and its products, whereas customer support is just one part of those interactions.

Customer service agents are focused on engaging customers and providing both reactive and proactive assistance. In addition, they educate, recommend, and offer strategic advice in order to maximize the value of a customer’s investment in the company. It could involve onboarding new customers, answering queries across all service channels, following up with customers, collecting customer feedback, as well as upselling products when appropriate.

Customer service is a more complex department that goes beyond offering assistance to customers and aligning with strategic company goals. In fact, customer support may be a part of a larger customer service department. The relations between a customer and a customer service department start before a transaction is made and don’t necessarily end.

Though customer service agents need to have a deep understanding of the products or services their company offers, they do not necessarily need advanced technical skills.

To be able to deliver great service experiences, customer service representatives should possess a wide range of soft skills. For example; active listening, empathy, excellent communication skills, the ability to use positive language, conflict resolution skills, and more.

To measure customer service effectiveness, businesses tend to look into transactional metrics. For instance;

  • First contact resolution (FCR)
  • Average handle time (AHT)
  • Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)
  • First response time (FRT)

Do not forget about customer care!

We have explained the differences/crucial roles of customer service and support. But there is one important thing that connects them and that is customer care. Customer care is a crucial aspect of both of these. It reflects how a customer is satisfied with the service or support he/she was given. Differentiating customer service and support can be a great advantage. But keep in mind that taking care of your customers should be the number one priority at all times.

The bottom line

Customer support and customer service are critical for maintaining ongoing customer relationships. Therefore it is a key factor to improve loyalty, retention, and recurring revenue. While both terms are often mixed up, it’s important to differentiate between the two and invest in both sectors in order to ensure customer satisfaction and high-quality customer experiences. If businesses are able to provide both customer support and customer service by responding reactively and engaging proactively, they can gain an advantage over their competitors.

Bonus tips for great customer service/support

1. Provide the right tools for your team

Having a team of professionals, be it customer support or service is essential. But, you need to provide your team with the right tools to make them as efficient as possible. Customer service/support needs to cover customer inquiries from multiple channels. As a result, they can poorly execute due to switching between interfaces.

Did you know that; “The communication channels that customers are more likely to use are voice calls (82%), email (62%), live chat (43%), social media (25%), and SMS (22%).”

So, how is your customer service/support supposed to manage all of those? There is a tool/software that allows you to efficiently take care of all customer inquiries from multiple channels. Customer service software includes; Call center, Live chat, Social media, Knowledge Base, and more!

Youtube video: LiveAgent 2021 | Better Customer Service Starts Today

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Handle all customer inquiries from one interface. Start improving your customer service with a 14-day free trial right away!

2. Help your customers help themself

Here is a noteworthy support statistic from SuperOffice: “40% of customers now prefer self-service over human contact/interaction.”

Yes, nowadays, customers prefer to search for the answers on their own before reaching out to customer support/service. As a result, your website needs to have Knowledgebase articles, such as How-to guides.

If you do not provide this option, you are risking that the customer will choose a competitor over you.

You have approximately 15 seconds to capture the user’s attention. Actually, it’s probably less than 15 seconds. Therefore, having a proper Customer service portal (self-service) is crucial. 

It is a form of support automation that will not degrade your overall service. If you would like to give it a try, LiveAgent offers a free 14-day trial for quality help desk software, including the customer support portal.

3. Provide templates for your customer service/support

If you would like to present your company as a professional entity, create customer service templates, especially for new-hires to follow. Therefore, you can make sure that they are appropriately talking to customers.

Don’t know where to start? Here are some articles with Copy & Paste examples:

But do not forget to leave your customer service/support a space to breathe. Strive to make the customer interactions personal and friendly. You do not want your team to sound like a robot.

4. Hire the right agents

So, how do you know which ones are the “right ones”? Your customer service/support needs to have the knowledge and technical skills to assist customers. However, the main focus should be on soft skills.

According to Linkedin support statistics; “92% of respondents say soft skills are more important than technical skills and 89% say that bad hires typically lack soft skills.”

Knowledge and skills can be acquired through extensive training or assistance. However, soft skills cannot be taught.

Here are some essential soft skills to look for when hiring your customer representatives:

  • Active listening
  • Empathy
  • Assertiveness
  • Problem-solving
  • Positive communication

5. Listen to customers’ feedback

The best tip to improve your customer service/support is definitely through feedback. It is the best way to find out what your company is doing right and wrong.

According to SuperOffice support statistics; “86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience.

If you are not yet providing the option for feedback, one solution is to use customer service software. It can easily help you provide customer service surveys. For instance, you can integrate feedback surveys after each live chat conversation.

Would you like to learn more? Then, check out our in-depth article about Customer service theory.

Try out LiveAgent for FREE

Handle all customer inquiries from one interface. Start improving your customer service with a 14-day free trial right away!

Frequently asked questions

What is meant by customer support?

Simply put, customer support is mostly about providing technical customer assistance by helping them resolve any issues they have with your products or services.

How can you provide great customer service/support?

  1. Provide the right tools for your team.
  2. Enable the Self-service option for customers.
  3. Provide templates for your customer service/support.
  4. Hire the right agents.
  5. Listen to your customers’ feedback.

What is the role of customer support?

Customer support role ranges from assisting customers in planning, installation, troubleshooting, maintenance, upgrading, to the disposal of your product.

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