Customer Success vs Customer Support – How to Separate Them

The titles of employees are changing and evolving quickly. In a previous article, we shared 5 tips how to increase customer satisfaction and showed how it’s never been more crucial. That’s why a lot of companies decided to develop their customer support teams. But that’s created some role confusion, for example:

  • Customer Support Manager
  • Customer Success Manager

People often misinterpret these two titles. Let’s try to understand what’s the difference between them and how to separate them.

What is Customer Support?

Customer Support Teams exist in all types of business. It doesn’t matter if it is a small startup or a huge corporation. They increase customer satisfaction by providing a range of services aimed at delivering a better user experience for your products.

At the same time, they help your users. They work on the front line—answering customers’ questions and handling requests over the phone. Social media, live chat, and email is their bread and butter. That’s why we can define customer support as “reactive.”

What is Customer Success?

Customer Success is a bit tricky. It comprises making predictions based on knowing your customers and what they want to achieve. Think of it as a cause and effect relationship. Because your Customer Success Managers know your customers, they can help them pursue their targets.

Hence, a Customer Success Manager is responsible for the achievement of broadly understood “success”–the outcome desired by your customers while using your product or service. Customer Success consists of “proactive” efforts.

Customer Success is often an element of excellent B2B customer service. Want to know more about providing great customer service in a B2B environment? Check out our article: B2B Customer Service Done Right

Customer Support vs Customer Success. What’s the difference?

Now it’s time for a direct comparison. Let’s see look at the differences between them step-by-step.

Customer Support:

  • Provide help as fast as possible to solve customer problems experienced while using your product or service.
  • Approach: Reactive
  • The effectiveness of customer support is measured by conducting different customer satisfaction surveys (e.g. NPS,  CSAT).
  • Perspective: Short-term. It begins the second a customer reaches out for help and ends when the problem is solved.

Customer Success:

  • Educate customers on how to achieve their goals and objectives by using your product or service—show the value of your company. 
  • Approach: Proactive
  • Churn rates (customer retention) and customer lifetime value reflect the effectiveness of your customer success strategy.
  • Perspective: Long-term. It doesn’t have an end-point. The Customer Success Team is responsible for building and establishing relationships with customers.
  • Good relationships with customers are priceless. But you also have to remember about maintaining relationships between the customer success and customer support teams. Their cooperation leads to the upselling of your product or services.

Want to find out more about Net Promotor Scores (NPS)? Need tips on how to improve yours? Find out more: 5 Tips How to Improve Your Net Promotor Score

Why do I need Customer Success when I have great Customer Support Agents?

We commonly meet with an attitude like this: “Having a customer success team is not necessary because our customer support team works efficiently, so it doesn’t make sense to spend more money on the customer service department.”

We will try to prove to you that that attitude won’t support the growth of your company.

As mentioned, the Customer Support Team works from a short-term perspective. For them, the most important factor is to help the customer as fast and as possible. Meanwhile, customer success’ long-term activities could have a direct impact on the effectiveness of the support team. How?

  • Customer Success Managers educate and present the value of the product/services to the customers. These types of activities increase awareness and help customers become familiar with your business. The more knowledge they have, the fewer questions they ask your support team.
  • You might be tempted to say that Customer Success Managers are people who know the customer journey well. Thanks to that knowledge they can prepare various materials that can be used by the customer support, technical support, sales and marketing departments. What types of materials? 
    • Blog Posts
    • Base Knowledge
    • Webinars
    • Testimonials

The listed materials are appropriate for all stages of the customer journey.

  • The Customer Success Department helps your business grow. People like to feel that they are under someone’s care. When they see that you care for them, they pay you back with loyalty that can turn into significant growth of promoters. 

Symbiosis Between Them

In conclusion, customer success and support are extremely important for your business. If you care about great customer service, low customer acquisition cost, and good relationships with existing customers, nurse the symbiotic relationship between customer success and customer support. Customers themselves, their challenges, needs and preferences, are constantly changing, just like their social and economic situations. Placing both departments on the same page results in constant cooperation, which will help you understand your customers’ needs and expectations.

Now you know all you need about customer support and customer success. Next steps? Find out what’s trending in customer support for the next decade! Learn from experts: Customer Support Trends for the Next Decade