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Customer Service vs Customer Support: Differences & Impact on Customer Care Explained

Customer Service vs Customer Support

Customer Service and Customer Support are both crucial areas of all businesses and failure to deliver any of these two might result in multiple problems that could affect customer satisfaction and their feedback on a company’s product or services. Know the importance of customer support and customer service and learn how these two different things should be present to achieve customer retention and delight.

What is the difference between Customer Support and Customer Service?

We always come across these two terms and we always ask, what’s the difference? For a quick definition, customer service is an umbrella term that covers all the things that a business does to deliver a product or service of its best quality.

Customer support, on the other hand, is defined as a part of customer service that focuses on the technical aspects of the business. Both are highly important and people that are in charge of a company’s service and support components should have special sets of skills to perform their duties well. These skills put emphasis on customer interaction, technical support skills, communication, and the ability to contact customers to assess and resolve customer issues that might affect customer feedback.

What do customer support and customer service have in common?

At first glance, it may seem like customer service and customer support are one and the same. However, there are some key distinctions between the two that can have a significant impact on your customers’ experience.

Both customer service and customer support want to provide a positive experience for your customers. They both work towards the same goal of increasing retention rates and improving satisfaction levels.

However, they differ in their focus and approach. Customer service is more about building relationships with customers while customer support is more about resolving issues. This means that employees who work in customer service typically have client-facing skills such as empathy and communication, whereas employees who work in customer support typically have the technical expertise and problem-solving skills.

Why are customer service and support important?

customer service agent
customer service agent

There are many reasons why customer service and support teams are important for any organization. Key moments of contact happen when customers have questions or problems, so it’s essential to have staff who can help resolve these issues as quickly and smoothly as possible. Additionally, happy customers are more likely to come back to do business with you again after their issue is resolved, and may even tell their friends and family about their positive experience. In fact, satisfied customers may be more likely to become loyal customers, which is great for business!

Customer service and support also play an important role in retention. By helping to resolve customer issues effectively and efficiently, you’re showing them that you care about their satisfaction. This can go a long way in keeping them as a customer – after all, no one wants to feel like they’re being ignored or taken for granted. So if you’re looking for ways to improve your customer relationships, make sure that your customer service and support teams are up to the challenge!

Basic Duties of Customer Support Agent and Customer Service Agent in Delivering Great Customer Service

customer is happy due to great customer service
happy customer

As mentioned above, customer service and support go hand in hand in delivering a great customer experience. Most of the time, customer loyalty and retention are made possible by excellent customer and service teams. But have you ever wondered what specific duties should a customer service agent and customer support specialist should have to deliver high-quality customer care? Read more to find out:

1. Responding to Customer Inquiries

Inquiries are common in businesses and entertaining hundreds of questions and inquiries actually serves as an effective way to measure excellent or poor customer service. Customer Service Representatives are trained to respond promptly to customer inquiries, provide the necessary information, and encourage and support interaction between the company and the customers. Moreover, superb customer care should be non-biased and the service that the business wants to extend should be for any type of customer. Customer Service Teams should be knowledgeable enough to answer all the questions about the product and services that they offer.

2. Communicating to Customers Through Different Channels

A good customer service representative is a good communicator. Customer service interactions are often direct and the service experience revolves around the communication between the representative and the customer. With the rise of technology, tools, and applications that are launched to enhance customer experience strengthens the goal of customer service to establish solid and uninterrupted connections with customers. Therefore, every customer service professional must be able to convey important information to customers through different channels. Customer service communication is often performed through customer calls, e-mail, instant messaging, and other tools set to facilitate smooth customer interactions. An effective customer service representative knows the proper words and tone to be used when talking to customers, as these said factors greatly affect customer relationships and might result in customer frustration and problems.

3. Acknowledging and Resolving Customer Complaints

Helpful customer service specialists are often recognized for their ability to handle complaints. Angry customers might utter words and do actions that are highly offensive and it takes an excellent customer service specialist to handle such stressful scenarios. Customer service employees are known to adopt the L.E.A.S.T method to promote proactive customer service. L.E.A.S.T stands for:

L – listening to the customer

E – empathizing with the customer in his/her issue

A – apologizing sincerely to the customer

S – solving the issue

T – thanking the customer for the trust and understanding

For larger customer service departments, customer issues are forwarded to different offices and persons in charge, making the process longer and more inconvenient for the customer. It is essential for customer service professionals to have soft skills that will enable them to adopt a heartfelt and intimate approach to addressing and resolving customer issues. While reaching out to customers who are disappointed and frustrated can be very challenging, customer service skills are usually honed through times when patience, understanding, and a service-oriented mindset are prioritized.

4. Ensuring Customer Satisfaction and Providing Professional Customer Support

As mentioned in the earlier parts of this article, the terms customer service and customer support both play a vital role in ensuring a top-notch customer experience and they are expected to go hand in hand. To earn the trust of customers, customer service and support teams should know when and how to anticipate the needs of customers during the entire business process. Great customer service should come before and after the purchasing of a product or rendering of specific services.

To provide high-quality customer experiences, professionals should master the art of giving insights into customers, positively influencing their purchasing decisions, collecting customer feedback, and using the said feedback to measure customer lifetime value. Moreover, stellar customer service becomes more attainable with the help of efficient customer support channels and support tools that improve customer support processes, reinforcing convenience and responsiveness to resolving customer queries on time and throughout the entire customer experience.

5. Providing Feedback on the Efficiency of the Customer Service Process

Customer service activities do not end after a business transaction has been made, in fact, the key to a seamless customer experience is one’s ability to provide continuous assistance to customers and at the same time, evaluate the quality of the entire customer service process. Good customer service professionals are proactive and capable of determining the strengths and weaknesses of service or support teams. Knowing what to improve (process and skills-wise) is a critical component of a customer lifecycle and as the customers’ needs and demands are ever-changing, companies must be updated with the standards too.

6. Processing Orders, Forms, Applications, and Requests

Being a customer service specialist also requires technical skills. Customer service teams should be available from time to time to receive queries about the products and services, handle order taking and note changes in orders, and relay issues and requests for technical support to customer support professionals. Timely reporting of the technical problems to tech support specialists and the customer support team shortens the time that customers spend waiting for appropriate solutions to their problems.

7. Keeping Records of Customer Information (Interactions, Transactions, Feedback, and Complaints)

Aside from giving actual assistance to customers, one of the best ways to establish and maintain connections with customers is to keep a clean and updated record of their information including the specific interactions that the employees had with them, transactions, their feedback, and most importantly, their complaints. Determining the cause of frequent complaints will be very helpful in providing effective solutions that could benefit the business in the longer run. Moreover, keeping this information may also help increase the Customer Effort Score (CES) and measure the amount of effort that customers make to interact with a company’s products and services.

What are the roles of customer support?

Customer Support Representatives

Both customer service and support require certain levels of competencies. Great customer support, on the other hand, requires more advanced technical skills to achieve business goals and provide excellent quality customer care. A customer support team works to enhance customer experience through these roles:

1. Technical Problem Solving and Troubleshooting

Customer support representatives are highly-skilled individuals who underwent special lectures and training to acquire technical competencies that could aid and solve customer problems. Most of the time, effective customer support is a result of both human and technological efforts. The role of customer support representatives primarily focuses on using modern and systematic approaches to develop solutions to customer problems. Troubleshooting is a more complex way of solving problems with the help of electronics, computers, and software.

2. Quality Assurance, Monitoring, and Testing

To provide customer service that gives delight to customers, departments must ensure the quality of products and services that customers can avail of. Customer service professionals are oftentimes concerned with customer satisfaction whereas customer support teams follow a business-centric approach that focuses on the functionality and quality of products and services. Customer support or tech support specialists play a vital support role in maintaining the satisfaction of customers.

Customer support teams provide specific and dedicated methods of resolving technical issues, performing maintenance operations, and providing technical customer care through customer support centers and portals.

3. Getting Updated with Customer Support Trends

Individuals specializing in technical support are often tech-savvy and updated on the latest software updates, maintenance schedules, and upgrades to elevate the customer support interactions. Customer support teams support technological advancements that help facilitate more customer queries, address major concerns, and resolve various types of technical issues in highly accessible yet well-organized platforms.

What are some examples of customer support channels?

Phone

Customer support via phone is still one of the most popular ways to contact customer service. Phone support caters to almost every type of customer and has the most “human element” among all channels.

Live Chat

Boasting a 73% customer satisfaction level, live chats are becoming a more popular customer support channel due to the interactive nature these extend in providing good customer communication and problem-solving strategies.

Email

Suitable for clients who are busy and do not have time to discuss issues and business matters via phone or chat, customer support via email is an ideal channel for individuals whose customer service concerns are not urgent. Email is universal with a wide reach.

Social Media

Ideal for concerns that do not require technical solutions, addressing customer inquiries and concerns via Facebook and Twitter is both practical and time-efficient.

Video-Assisted

Innovative and exciting, video-assisted customer support through a live video feed is a fun way to assist customers remotely.

Self-Service

According to a recent survey, 67% of customers prefer self-service to speaking to company representatives. They can relay their concerns completely and clearly which can be very limited and challenging in other AI-aided channels.

Customer service vs support: Is it possible to become a customer service and customer support representative at the same time?

This is a common question among individuals who want to apply for jobs in different industries. Customer service is a broad aspect of every business and customer support is just one of the many factors that affect the overall experience of customers. While the goal to use customer service as a way to encourage repeat business and loyalty is a must for every company, customer support is a specific component and some companies may not even require it. Customer support also becomes more prevalent when customer issues need advanced solutions.

Companies that rely on the quality and functionality of their products and services tend to be more meticulous when it comes to selecting support teams. Thus, every company requires a customer service team, but not all companies require a customer support team. Any industry that serves customers can hire representatives or generalists to perform basic duties, while for a more tech-dependent company, support teams may include the following:

Takeaways

Delivering great customer care is the goal of every business. Just like customer service, customer support is important in strengthening the relationship of a business with its customers. Every wonderful story is a result of excellent customer service and customer support experiences made possible by competent professionals with superb customer service skills. Support teams must possess equal levels of soft skills and technical skills to extend exceptional assistance in the entire business process.

The role of customer support extends deeper after every customer interaction resulting in meaningful relationships and good customer service points. The customer service department is more than just a single area inside an establishment, to quote American internet entrepreneur Tony Hsieh:

“Customer service shouldn’t just be a department, it should be the entire company”

-Tony Hsieh

Customer support and customer service might be confusing for some but one thing is certain, a business that cares for its customers is a business that is bound to prosper. 

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