Customer Success vs Customer Support – How to Separate Them

The titles of employees are changing and evolving quickly. In a previous article, We’ve shared 5 tips how to increase customer satisfaction and showed that it has never been so crucial as it is nowadays. Because of that, a lot of companies decided to develop their customer support teams, and so today you can meet with some definitions which could be confusing, for example:

  • customer support manager,
  • customer success manager.

People often misinterpret these two definitions. 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 better user experience and more convenient usage of 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 support. Social media, live chat and email is their bread and butter. That’s why we can define customer support as a “reactive”.

What is Customer Success?

Customer Success’s definition is a bit tricky, as it consists of prediction based on really 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 in pursuing 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 Support vs Customer Success. What’s the difference?

Now it’s time for a direct comparison. Let’s see what are the differences between them and go through it step by step.

Customer Support:

  • Helps as fast as possible to solve customers’ problems which they experience while using your product or service.
  • approach: reactive
  • the effectiveness of customer support could be measured by conducting different customer satisfaction surveys (e.g. NPS,  CSAT)
  • perspective: short-term. It begins the second customer reaches 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, and this is not negotiable. But you also have to remember about maintaining relationships between customer success and customer support teams. Their cooperation leads to upselling of your product or services.

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

We commonly meet with an attitude like that: “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 for the customer department”. We will try to prove to you that this attitude could not be right for the growth of your company.

As we mentioned before, the Customer Support Team works in 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 Manager educates and presents the value of the product/services to the customers. These types of activities increase their awareness and let them become more familiar with your business. More knowledge they have means fewer questions to your support.
  • We can be tempted to say that Customer Success Managers are people, who know the customer journey really well. Thanks to that knowledge they can prepare various materials which could be used by customer support, technical support, sales and marketing departments. What types of materials do I mean? 
    • Blog Posts
    • Base Knowledge
    • Webinars
    • Testimonials

All things like these above are used during all stages of the customer journey.

  • Customer Success Department helps your business to 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 which can turn into significant growth of your promoters. 

Symbiosis between them

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

We asked experts about customer support trends for 2020. Since you know what customer success and customer support are, now it’s time to get more information about it. You can check the article by clicking here.