What's the Difference Between Customer Support and Customer Success?

Published on Nov 09, 2017 by Marcela Areiza | 7 min(s) read time

Customer Success and Customer Support when combined effectively will ensure customer satisfaction.


Today’s technology-driven market has seen a change in the last five years that can, at a glance, seem blurry. Customer support and customer success definitely sound similar, but the difference between one and the other lies beyond simple semantics. At the heart of it lies a commitment to providing customer value rather than just simple customer service.



Customer Support: Real-Time Problem Solving


Customer Support often brings to mind the idea of waiting endlessly on the line to speak to a representative who’ll eventually resolve a simple (or not-so-simple) issue. In reality, Customer Support goes above and beyond that. Not only do customer support teams provide guidance and quick problem resolution, they act as your partner in the everyday processes, take steps to keep you coming back and ensure you sign a renewal. Great Customer Support is reflected in the overall experience, so a customer doesn’t think twice about calling with questions or issues.


A Customer Support team works hard to help you:


- Identify, troubleshoot and resolve issues.

- Arrive at a solution that ensures customer satisfaction.

- Focus on immediate issues, making sure they’re resolved quickly and effectively.

- Ensure customer retention and brand loyalty.

Provide insights on reducing support costs.



Customer Success: Looking at the Bigger Picture


Customer Success, on the other hand, sounds like a much better trade up than the traditional customer support model. But here’s where companies can jump the gun and aim for success with an imprecise target: Customer Success is about working with a customer to arrive at a more detailed  understanding of the client’s goals, and how to achieve them. It demands a far more proactive, long-term approach to ensure that not just baselines are being met, but that customers are gaining value and generating revenue.


Customer Success works at a higher level, preemptively identifying problems that can keep customers from meeting their goals, and creating real-time visibility into core issues, allowing them to coordinate cross-team collaboration to face challenges effectively.


A Customer Success team enables you to:


- Proactively identify and strategize ways to achieve maximum value.
- Understand client-specific needs or requirements to tailor solutions for increased efficiency.
- Track progress and metrics to gain greater insight into ongoing efforts.
- Create a long-term relationship with customers to progressively improve.



Customer Experience: Working Together Through a Seamless Journey


Ultimately, both Customer Support and Customer Success are indispensable for a business to properly address customer issues and achieve customer goals.


A focus on just Customer Support could lead to limited problem solving capabilities,  a lack of feedback to help improve your product or service, and fall short in terms of revealing the reason why a certain product or service isn’t working. Alternatively, a focus on Customer Success allows for a broader view of a business’ moving parts and how customers are interacting with a given solution, to create a long-term and sustainable relationship with the customer.

Client Success’ more holistic approach enables a business not only to fix issues, but also anticipate them and find ways to continually improve. However, the need for an on-the-ground team to handle queries and respond to immediate requirements is a large part of ensuring Customer Experience is seamless and positive.


Increasing Client Satisfaction and Retention via Customer Success


Customer Success works to satisfy clients, empower customers and grow sustainable relationships with them. In doing so, an effective Customer Success team may employ one or more of the following:


Targeted Inbound Sales

- Work with Marketing and Sales to reduce churn.
- Ensure clients make it all the way through the sales funnel.


Smooth & Scrupulous Onboarding

- Provide extensive onboarding material.
- Meet customer needs.
- Resolve customer pain points across various channels.


Proactive Outreach

- Reach out to new customers not using your solution.
- Analyze KPIs to identify customer pain points to resolve them.
- Improve user experience and achieve higher level of client satisfaction.


Customer Satisfaction

- Continually assess customer satisfaction.
- Monitor user interaction and experience with the solution.
- Ensure regular and successful usage of the solution.


User Testing

- Identify user experience blind spots.

- Visualize the way customers interact with your business.

- Improve brand perception and develop trust.


Learn from Detractors

- Listen to feedback from detractors.

- Identify your solution’s flaws.

- Rectify issues to improve customer satisfaction.


All of these will help build and improve your Net Promoter Score (NPS), and set the standard for excellent customer service. By focusing on helping customers achieve their goals through your solution, you’ll not only improve your NPS, but give customers the tools and knowledge to leverage your solution, turning them into brand promoters.



Customer Success + Customer Support = Customer Satisfaction


While the twentieth century would have us compartmentalize and specialize, the new era of business is looking towards a more holistic and collaborative approach to customer relationships. By working together from different departments (Sales, Marketing, Support, Success), a customer’s specific needs and issues can be addressed seamlessly and a lasting relationship forged with the right processes and material.


Ready to boost your NPS? Download our eBook to learn how to leverage Customer Success to deliver greater customer experience and increase your Net Promoter Score.


How to Use Customer Success to Improve Net Promoter Score, NPS

Topics: Customer Success, customer support