Customer support and customer service could appear comparable at first. The main similarities between the two professions are that they both include aiding customers, using resources like email, chat, or the phone, and sharing techniques for enhancing customer happiness. Both are essential to the customer experience a business offers.
It could be challenging to distinguish between customer support and customer service. While both have the same goal—to aid the customer—customer support is a particular kind of customer service that entails product feedback, documentation, and technical problem-solving.
Customer service and customer support are two distinct concepts. Customer support is a subset of customer service, whereas customer service is a general concept.
What Is Customer Service?
Customer service is a catch-all phrase that refers to all of your company’s contacts with its clients. Customer service, which is all you do to make sure you satisfy your customers’ expectations and enhance their overall experience, is a feature of almost any organization.
Ensuring your clients receive extraordinary value from your product or service is the ultimate goal of excellent customer service. Additionally, it is a minefield of potential pitfalls for companies with disorganized customer service teams and inflexible phone infrastructure. Customer service is an ongoing process that starts when a potential customer expresses interest in your company and continues long after they’ve made a transaction.
Responsibilities of customer service agents
At every point of the customer life cycle, customer service representatives are available to assist and delight clients. That could be providing a customer with guidance on avoiding unforeseen problems or reactively assisting them in solving a common issue.
Some of the typical customer service tasks include the following:
- Assisting clients with billing and delivery concerns
- Resolving issues with non-technical accounts
- Suggesting the use of improved equipment and methods
- Gathering client comments and reviews
- Onboarding new clients
- Responding to inquiries and comments on social media
Customer service representatives are aware of the company, its offerings, and customer interaction methods. Even though they lack specialized knowledge, they can respond to general inquiries and direct clients toward more knowledgeable assistance.
Having sharp, soft skills is also crucial for providing excellent customer service. The most outstanding customer service representatives are attentive to the customer’s specific needs, patient, sympathetic, helpful, and straightforward.
What Is Customer Support?
The goal of customer support, a subset of customer service, is to assist consumers in resolving any technical issues that may arise while using your product or service. The majority of customer support interactions are reactive and brief.
Typically, a customer contacts customer support with a problem they need assistance with, and the customer support representative simply offers a solution. The agent will then instruct the customer on how to resolve the issue, or the support staff may choose to apply this solution themselves.
Most customer support is found in SaaS (software as a service), IT, or eCommerce companies. Furthermore, not all businesses require customer service. While restaurants place a high value on customer service, they typically do not provide or need customer support because their patrons do not need technical assistance.
Customer support agent responsibilities
Customer support staff are available to respond to users’ issues promptly and accurately. Support personnel are constantly exposed to client problems, which allows them to give product development teams insightful user input.
Support agents are expected to perform the following duties:
- Creating support materials and product documentation
- Performing usability tests
- Assist clients with product or service installation, maintenance, disposal, and upgrades.
- Real-time customer support via live chat and support emails
The skills of a top-notch support representative include technical proficiency, product knowledge, and speed. However, support staff members should have the same empathy and interpersonal abilities as customer service staff to provide the best experience for consumers.
The Difference Between Customer Support and Customer Service.
It is pretty evident that while customer support and service are distinct, they are yet intimately intertwined. Customer support is more narrowly focused on giving customers technical support. In contrast, customer service deals with the overall customer experience and a little more customer participation to satisfy customers throughout their journey with your business.
The following are some significant variations:
- Consumer support mainly applies to any technical issues a customer may encounter while using a product or service, whereas customer service covers the entire customer lifecycle.
- A support agent is a specialist, as opposed to a customer service person who is a generalist.
- While customer support is typically reactive, customer service is proactive and proactive.
- Customer service is more long-term than customer support, which is short-term.
- All companies must provide customer service, but not everyone requires customer support.
- Support isn’t always a part of customer service, but customer service is always about customer service.
Consider a consumer who enters a store searching for yellow jeans to further illuminate the distinction between the two. This customer may be assisted in finding the jeans, charged for them, and the jeans could be packaged for them by a customer service agent. They might even create an upsell by recommending a T-shirt that would go well with the pants.
The customer has everything they need in this case, but there is no extra input or data into the experience; it is just transactional.
Consider, however, a client who contacts Dropbox via email to complain about a problem they are having sharing a file with a friend. The customer service representative:
- Directly links the client to the documentation they created and guides them through the necessary processes.
- Sorts the discussion into categories to make it easier for the product team to receive input on the share function.
- Initiates a dialogue about enhancing sharing
- Follow up with the client to discuss how to make their experience better
The role of a customer support agent is more about enhancing the customer experience than transacting with the client. Customer support specialists use customer service skills; however, that is just one aspect of their work.
Customer support teams frequently work closely with the product team and are included in discussions regarding product decisions. Support teams are typically more active in the entire customer experience compared to customer service teams.
Tips for Delivering Excellent Customer Support and Service
Understanding how to deliver excellent support and service that your customers will value is crucial since it significantly impacts how organizations grow.
The following tips will point you in the correct direction:
- Give your agents the tools they need
Giving your team the proper tools gives them more time to serve and support your clients in the best possible ways. High-quality support tools simplify the lives of customers and agents and convey the impression that your business is conducted professionally.
For instance, providing omnichannel customer support allows your clients to contact you via the channel that most fits them, whether live chat, phone, email, or social media.
Based on their experiences with your company across various channels, each customer’s profile develops a rich picture of that client, providing any agent dealing with that customer with a quick overview of that customer’s history and wants. Also, customers are spared the hassle of repeating themselves to numerous agents, and agents can resolve issues more rapidly.
- Communicate clearly
When communicating with clients, clarity is essential since ambiguous language breeds misunderstanding and avoidable errors. When you don’t communicate with customers clearly, you risk making errors that undermine their trust in your company.
Removing any industry terminology and communicating without technical jargon will help to reduce miscommunication. Instead, use plain language that anybody can understand. And when communicating with customers, avoid confusing them with too much information at once. Additionally, transparency is a crucial component of good communication. When a customer asks you a question, and you are unsure of the answer, be honest with them and promise to get back to them as soon as possible.
- Define your philosophy and process
You should establish your strategy for providing support and customer service. Without a consistent approach, your customer service delivery would be in disarray and inconsistent.
To build up ideas that you wish to influence your company’s customer service interactions, such as speed, proactivity, and accessibility, start by defining your customer service principles and philosophy.
A customer care playbook that lists your team’s standard procedures and top ideas might also be written. That will include standards for recording client feedback and guidance for techniques like reporting problems and issues, when to develop support content, and how to do so.
- Close conversations properly
Up to 91 percent of unhappy consumers won’t even voice their complaints about poor customer service; they’ll just leave. Because of this, your customer support and service teams need to resolve all customer interactions satisfactorily. You can’t determine if a customer had a positive or negative experience unless you ensure they are happy with the exchange.
Always inquire if there is anything you can do to assist a customer when the discussion seems to be lagging. That shows the client that you want to resolve the problem and are willing to go above and beyond to ensure they are happy.
When a client confirms that they are finished and have no additional inquiries, you can end the conversation knowing they were happy with the interaction.
- Utilize positive language
Customers should not just comprehend your explanations and directions; you also want them to feel encouraged and driven to complete their goals. Speaking positively means focusing on solutions rather than problems.
- Prioritize the first point of contact
Customers want their issues to be resolved quickly when contacting support or customer service. If problems are fixed the first time they arise, up to 65 percent of return complaints can be avoided. Therefore, it is crucial to prioritize first contact or first call resolution.
- Demonstrate empathy
Awareness of customers’ wants is necessary to make them feel heard and understood. That is particularly crucial for support employees to keep in mind because clients who contact support are frequently under stress and frustrated, even though the issue at hand is quite simple to resolve.
Support staff should therefore take their time to demonstrate empathy for the customer rather than rush to resolve the technical issue. Similarly, developing a rapport with clients, speaking to them directly, getting to know them and their business, and expressing enthusiasm for their goals all contribute to creating a human-centered customer experience.
- Get other teams involved in your customer service.
Engaging all staff in frontline customer service and support is one efficient way to develop a customer-centric strategy and culture throughout your company. That is also referred to as collaboration in customer service.
That could entail holding regular cross-team talks to discuss client feedback or requesting that members of various teams occasionally listen in on customer calls. For your team to continue putting the client’s needs first in all they do, each member needs to understand the customer’s pain.
- Improve KPIs and customer support results
The number of tickets resolved was a gauge of support effectiveness in the early days of support software. CSAT, NPS, and churn rates are some tried-and-true key performance indicators (KPIs) for assessing customer support. However, it is beneficial to analyze KPIs frequently to see where they can develop.
But many organizations are already altering how they define performance as conventional support roles become more intertwined with channels and business processes. Additionally, this impacts how customer support employees engage their customers.
The support team is also able to take their time and become adept at dealing with the clients by knowing how your customer base will most likely contact you for support.
- Connect CRM and customer support tools.
Integrate customer support and customer relationship management (CRM) technologies to track changes in your customers and their lifetime value for a more individualized approach to customer service. 90% of customers will spend more money with companies that offer personalized customer care. Transferring data between different platforms allows it to find individualized, pertinent answers to client problems that could not have been thought of otherwise. Also, agents can predict customers’ demands by using information about their past support difficulties, purchases, and opened outbound emails, among other relevant customer contexts.
Why Is Customer Support Vital to a Business’s Growth?
Customer support is crucial since it allows prompt and efficient customer query resolution. Additionally, this affects the lifetime value of a customer, brand reputation, and customer retention.
Asking yourself the following questions will help you better understand how to develop exceptional customer support for your company:
- What are typical customer support requirements in your sector?
- How can customer support improve the customer’s voice across your entire company?
- How can essential business choices like product roadmaps or marketing strategies be shared with your support team?
Contrary to popular belief, customer support and customer services are separate but related components of a seamless customer experience and developing strong client relationships. Customer support primarily focuses on fixing technical customer issues, but customer service comprises all the best practices, methods, and principles that guide your interactions with consumers.
In smaller businesses, the same person will typically be responsible for customer service and support. However, the customer service and support departments will have specialized teams in other, more giant corporations. However your company is set up, your success will depend on how well you can understand the differences while delivering both in unison.