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What is the Difference Between Customer Service and Customer Support

Many people commonly confuse customer service and customer support as the same thing. However, these 2 notions are quite different in their offerings and goals. Yet companies (especially in the tech world) need them both. Why?

Andy Horvitz

By Andy Horvitz

SVP of Client Engagement Andy Horvitz leads teams responsible for forging relationships with, and implementing custom solutions for, new clients.

10 min read

In the current market, one of the only ways that companies have to stay ahead of the game is by separating themselves as far from the competition as possible. They do this through obvious marketing funnels, such as TV ads, social media ads, influencers, paid search ads, and so on.

However, while listing the differences between a company and its competition, one of the most important aspects is commonly looked over: providing outstanding customer support alongside customer service. Every consumer has undoubtedly heard these 2 terms interchangeably when, in reality, each represents its own separate service and types of customer care with different offerings covered.

Many tech companies thankfully offer both services, but each has its own unique requirements and standards. For any company owner looking to improve their company or anyone looking to get into the workforce, it’s important to comprehend the difference between the 2 terms and understand why they both matter.

What is Customer Support Then?

Customer support is a resource that enables customers to get quick answers to their questions and solve problems proactively. Also referred to as tech support, customer support teams provide assistance to customers who have bought products or services and are having doubts or issues with them.

Customer support teams are responsible for maintaining the quality of the user experience of the company’s customers and ensuring that all users receive reliable, timely, and effective support when needed. This includes tasks such as answering support emails, calls, and texts and walking clients through technical solutions with a focus on short-term issues. These teams typically represent more “hard” or technical skills in their workforces when compared to customer service.

What is Customer Service?

Customer service is an important aspect of every industry but especially in the world of tech. It’s a person’s first point of contact when they need to get in touch – and the way a company treats them can make or break a customer’s experience. It’s a team effort concerned with providing a friendly, helpful, and professional experience to help improve the customer’s relationship with the company.

A customer service representative helps customers in making orders, answering questions, and providing general information. Customer service is, without a doubt, a critical component of a company’s success as it’s an experience that consumers will always remember and will definitely leave reviews about.

Types of Customer Service vs Customer Support

Although each may seem similar on the surface, customer service and customer support are actually quite different although both are types of customer care. Below are a few of the key differences between the 2 offerings:

Specific vs Broad 

Customer support is a specific set of actions, while customer service is an umbrella term. Support focuses on the needs of individual customers with the goal of providing fast, accurate, and efficient communication and response, often via telephone or email. Individuals involved in customer support teams usually have more technical or product/service-based knowledge for problem-solving in real time.

Customer service focuses on providing good customer experiences as a whole. The goal is to create positive relationships between tech companies and customers in all interactions. So, customer support requires a specific skill set for solving the specific problem, while customer service requires a broader skill set of more “soft” office skills, including communication, conflict resolution, and so on.

Some Customers vs All Customers 

Customer support is only required when there’s a problem with specific customers about the product or service, which makes it a very good thing for tech companies to put in the time and effort in providing such a resource. Customer service is about ensuring that all the customers feel valued and appreciated.

In customer support, the team provides solutions that are immediately applicable to some customers. In customer service, the team focuses on the needs of every customer and provides personalized attention that is best suited for them.

For example, some clients may want a solution on how to solve a specific issue concerning the company’s product or service but all customers want to know the services provided by the company are a good fit.

Reactive vs Proactive 

Customer support is all about answering questions and providing troubleshooting or technical support to a customer. It’s reactive because the support team responds to a problem when it occurs, and they react as fast as possible to solve it. Customer service is proactive because the team acts in a way that creates positive interactions and prevents problems from occurring in the first place.

Technical Value vs Relationship Focused 

Customer support is primarily focused on solving issues brought up by customers and providing technical support to solve the problem. Customer service is about improving the relationship between a company and its customers.

Customer support refers to a company’s technical ability to assist with issues. Customer service, however, is a company’s ability to provide exceptional customer experiences and build relationships with customers. Therefore, customer support is more of a task, while customer service is more of an attitude.

Short Term vs Long Term 

Customer support is a temporary function in the tech industry. The goal is to solve customer problems quickly and efficiently. If a customer needs to contact tech support, they’ll have to describe the issue or problem. Customer support staff may suggest a solution to resolve the issue that the customer encountered.

Customer service, on the other hand, is the foundation of a company. It’s about providing quality service over time. Customer support applies to the customers that have already purchased the product but service applies to anyone that comes in contact with the business, whether they have purchased the product or not.

Efficiency vs Satisfaction 

Customer support is a process that’s designed to resolve customer issues as efficiently as possible. It’s measured by things like how quickly the team solves the issue at hand and how much time it takes to reach a full resolution. Customer service is a personal relationship, not just an administrative one, and is typically felt in all aspects of a company. The customer’s happiness with the service is the measurable success rate.

Final Verdict: Is Customer Service and Customer Support the Same Thing?  

To put it simply, the answer is no. Customer service and customer support are 2 very distinct yet equally vital aspects of businesses in all sectors and industries. In the tech industry, each of these teams is incredibly important for both the customers and the business itself as the company’s reputation, customer base, and return rate are all on the line.

Andy Horvitz

By Andy Horvitz

As SVP of Client Engagement, Andy Horvitz leads teams responsible for forging relationships with new clients through the design and implementation of custom software engineering solutions. With more than 20 years of industry experience, Andy serves as a trusted advisor to our clients.

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