With the advent of COVID-19 vaccination, the world is slowly returning to normal, and customer expectations are increasing.
At the height of the pandemic, customers may be willing to forgive some customer service issues, but now that many of the strictest restrictions on COVID have begun to relax, customers hope that companies can restore high-quality help and services.
The data shows that the company still has a long way to go to meet these expectations.
Nearly 60% of consumers will stop doing business with a brand after a poor experience. Today, more than 50% of customers have higher expectations for customer service and support than a year ago, and about 70% of customers sever the brand’s relationship with the company. It is because they feel that the company does not care about them.
Whether you want to hire more customer service agents to avoid excessive customer churn, or you want to improve the overall customer support approach, you need to make sure that any changes you make solve more problems than they cause.
A way to do this?
Make sure you know the difference between customer service and customer support.
table of Contents
Customer Service and Customer Support: Overview
The following table outlines the main basic differences between customer service and customer support.
|customer service||Customer Support|
|Handling the overall customer relationship||Deal with specific/single problems|
|Based on personal relationships, product recommendations, respond to customer reviews/feedbacks, and maintain customer satisfaction||Based on teaching customers how to use the product, solve technical problems, connect customers with documents|
|Heavy reliance on soft skills||Heavy reliance on hard skills|
|Customer support is not always required||Exist as a function of customer service|
|Answer the question, “Why?”||Answer the question, “How?”|
|Passive and active||Reaction formula|
What is customer service?
Customer service refers to all aspects of the help you provide to customers from the first time they start doing business with you to the day when their relationship with your company ends.
In short, customer service covers everything under the general term customer experience and customer care-from onboarding new customers to responding to customer reviews.
This is not about managing a single problem or completing a single transaction.
On the contrary, customer service is all about optimizing the long-term relationship between the company and the customer. It focuses on ensuring that customers not only see the value of the products and services your business provides them, but also make them feel the value and importance of your company.
Customer-centric quality service will not stand still. It continues to evolve with the needs of customers, usually relying on their feedback to maintain success throughout the customer’s life cycle.
Customer service example
It is important to understand that although every business, big or small or industry, needs a customer service department, not all companies need more technical skills from a customer support department.
For example, consider a public transportation system. They provide customer service because they establish bus routes, provide maps, set fares, and make timetables easily accessible. However, they will not teach everyday commuters how to drive a bus or operate the subway system (thank goodness.)
Examples of customer interaction and assistance that fall into the category of customer service include:
The skills your customer service team needs
Although both customer service and customer support require agents to have both soft and hard skills, customer service relies more on soft skills to ensure smooth interaction.
Soft skills refer to the way your customer service agent communicates with customers on a personal level. They cannot be fully measured by specific indicators, taught or memorized in a hard-skilled way, but they can be easily developed and improved. They are also more versatile than hard skills, and can usually be applied to any business or even personal situation—not to customer problems in a company or a specific position.
Soft skills refer to someone’s ability to deal with difficult or stressful situations, their ability to make customers feel valuable and relaxed, and how easy it is for them to establish and maintain customer relationships.
Excellent customer service support skills include:
- Communication skills for dealing with difficult customers
- Listen actively
- Empathy and emotional intelligence
- The ability to express yourself clearly, simply, and concisely
- Insight into customer needs in order to make useful and realistic product/service suggestions
- Patience and the ability not to treat things as personal
- Teamwork (willing to help clients that other agents fail to help, etc.)
- Commissioned (“I can’t help you solve this problem, but let me help you contact someone who can help you”)
- Able to express gratitude to customers
- Solve the problem (provide several possible solutions and let customers choose the option they like)
- Not only understand specific products, but also understand the company’s culture/mission to show how the company’s operations are in line with customers’ perspectives
- Adaptability and flexibility (the required products are not in stock, no recent appointments are available, etc.)
- Organization and time management
- Self-motivation, decision-making ability and self-direction
- Able to prioritize customers and issues
- Stress management
What is customer support?
Although customer service refers more to “overall” assistance, customer support is a more specific type of customer service that focuses on providing professional technical assistance to existing and new customers.
Generally, customer support interactions are shorter than customer service interactions, and more passive than active. (After all, customers are unlikely to call a support agent before they encounter technical problems.)
When it comes to customer support, there is no “dedicated customer success manager” or a single support agent that a customer talks to every time they call. Instead, the customer is associated with a personal support agent who has the technical knowledge and experience most relevant to the business. The problem at hand.
This means that during the customer life cycle, they may talk to many different support agents, even if they only talk to full-time account managers in the customer service department.
It is also easier to quantify customer support satisfaction using KPIs and indicators such as Net Promoter Score (NPS) and CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) levels.
Customer support example
Remember, customer support is within the scope of customer service-but not all types of businesses need customer support.
Companies working in the SaaS, hardware, e-commerce, application development, manufacturing, network security, web hosting, and engineering industries need to provide extensive customer support (usually technical) in addition to traditional good customer service.
Common examples of customer support include:
- Help the client’s website go back online
- Guide customers through the installation/update process
- Help customers add new services or upgrade accounts
- Create customer support documents
- Categorize customer support conversations to highlight common product/service issues
- Real-time troubleshooting through screen sharing and remote screen control to provide a hands-on method to help customers solve technical problems
- Assist third-party integration
- Calculate NPS, CSAT, and customer effort scores
- Respond to security breaches/suspicious activity
- Help customers reset passwords or restore account data
- Focus on current customer engagement
- Running speed test, real-time site monitoring, to ensure high uptime
- Provide insights into product development
- A/B testing
The skills your customer support team needs
Although customer support agents still need to have basic soft skills, since their main job is to provide technical support and specific solutions related to repairing faulty products, hard skills and technical knowledge are more important for them.
The customer service team sends to the customer support team more complex support requests that they do not have technical knowledge to resolve. When customers contacted customer support, they did not really seek empathy and apologies.
They are looking for a solution.
So what skills does a customer support agent need to be successful?
- Professional Development Certification/Education
- Practical technical support knowledge (for example: coding language, network security, CRM system, business software and hardware, etc.)
- How to solve common IT problems
- The ability to understand when a support request needs to be upgraded or transferred to an agent with more relevant technical skills
- Be able to provide clear step-by-step instructions on how to solve technical problems, so that people at all levels of “tech-savvy” can understand and follow
- Have experience in monitoring systems, enabling them to proactively identify and prevent problems
- Professional knowledge of the company’s product/service working method, construction method and repair method
- Be able to understand which tools/software/systems are the most suitable way to solve the problem at hand
- Train the knowledge and abilities of other support representatives
- The ability to correctly diagnose the problem and provide the best solution
- Workflow management and issue prioritization
- Ability to run software updates
- Ability to track, update and manage support tickets correctly
What is customer success?
When researching customer service, you may come across another term: customer success.
Customer service is often seen as a “passive” strategy designed to maintain customer retention and ensure that customer satisfaction is not affected when problems arise.
Customer success is usually more proactive in nature. It focuses on anticipating customer needs, paying attention to potential pitfalls, providing solutions before problems occur, and completely preventing potential problems from occurring under ideal circumstances.
However, we believe that it is best to look at customer service and customer success in roughly the same way. A truly powerful customer service strategy will not only respond, but also predict.
SaaS solution for optimizing customer service and customer support
Now that you understand the difference between customer service and customer support, it’s time to start thinking about how to optimize these two basic strategies in your workplace.
Fortunately, this is not something you have to do yourself. ‘
Although developing strong company policies, supporting knowledge bases, help desks, and implementing continuous employee training programs are key, there are several different types of business software solutions that help keep customer service and customer support agents running at the highest level .
To learn more about each of the above tools, click on the link to access our interactive forms for key features, providers, user reviews, and more.
Customer Support and Customer Service: Frequently Asked Questions
Below, we have answered some of the most frequently asked questions related to customer service and customer support.