January 28, 2019

Differences between Customer Support and Customer Service: What you need to know

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The concepts of Customer Support and Customer Service are frequently confused. Some companies use the term “service” when they are actually just providing “support.” Support and Customer Service, it must be understood that “support” and “service” are not synonyms. The key is the attitude towards the customer.

Customer Support: A reaction to a particular problem

Let's start from the beginning. “Support” is defined by Webopedia as “service that computer and software manufacturers, and third-party service companies, offer to customers”. “Support” is indeed a service for the customer but it’s focused on fixing the problems of the products or services contracted. The ultimate goal is their correct and efficient use. In order to achieve such goal, people in charge of this task should have the necessary technical expertise.

However, this is not enough. “Support” also refers to company reactive attitude towards a customer action. When facing a query or complaint, which usually expresses a negative experience, the Customer Support area responds. That is, it provides assistance in order to solve a particular issue.

It generally applies to companies focused on the technology development or sale. Its function is to ensure that customers get what they paid for and that it works effectively. It also tries to avoid any kind of conflict between the customer and the service or product. In summary, the Customer Support area focuses its efforts on upholding the business.

Customer Service: A proactive attitude that generates value

The picture changes as it moves towards a comprehensive customer experience. Here is where Customer Service comes into play. This is a more intricate department that deals with customer communication at all levels. It can include Customer Support, but this goes far beyond that. It consists of sales, payment, after-sales, communication, among others. Customer Service implies a proactive attitude that generates added value. And here lies the most significant difference between “support” and “service”: “service” prioritizes the whole customer satisfaction.

A company with a successful Customer Service assists customers and accompanies them throughout all the purchase process. It’s important to understand that the relationship definitely does not end when the customer purchases the product or service. Nor does it when the issues are solved (or not). For a company, bonds with a customer may be for life. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure their satisfaction before, during and after the transaction has been completed. An incredible experience will make a company stand out among its competitors and foster long-lasting ties with its customers.

The knowledge and skills of Customer Service agents will also be broader. They must have excellent communication skills and use the appropriate language for each contact channel. They need to be trained to identify the real needs of different customers and act accordingly. Moreover, it’s essential that they are aligned with the values of the company. And last but not least, they should always show respect, professionalism and willingness.

Why does Customer Service make a difference?

Once the differences between Customer Support and Customer Service are clear, it's no surprising that many companies prioritize developing a robust Customer Service. According to Forrester, one of the trends of 2018 was the increase in the number of people hired to work in this department. This was necessary to address the increase of customer interactions across various channels. In figures, 46% of the decision makers in Customer Service centers around the world are foreseen to grow between 5% and 10% in 2019.

While Customer Service requires greater investment, it should be considered an asset for the company rather than a bottomless pit where money vanishes. As a report by McKinsey & Company states, “satisfied customers spend more money, show stronger loyalty to companies, and create favorable conditions to reduce costs and increase employee engagement levels.”

Clear definitions for successful decisions

Recognizing the differences between Customer Support and Customer Service is vital for setting achievable goals that represent the company's culture. Always remember that such terms are not synonyms. Therefore, they should be used knowing the tasks that belong to each of them. If you are exploring new ways to enrich your business's Customer Service, learn more about Aivo's proposal. Aivo’s omnichannel solutions for Customer Service with Artificial Intelligence will take your customer relationship to the next level.

Are you looking for new ways to improve your CX?

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