Is customer success the same as customer support?

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Maintaining smooth communications with customers, guiding them at all times, and helping them make the most of a company’s product are some of the tasks that all businesses must perform in order to satisfy their users.

Customer success and customer support teams are charged with this mission. However, although these two concepts are often used interchangeably, the truth is that there are notable differences between them. In fact, the objectives of these departments, the way they work, and the metrics to evaluate their performance, are different. Here we discuss the different functions they perform.

Differences between customer success and customer support

In essence, we can define customer success as a business focus on using technology and users’ information to ensure that they continuously receive value from a product throughout their life cycle as customers.

Thus, customer success is a philosophy based on forging closer ties with users and interacting with them proactively so that their experience a the product and brand are as positive as possible. In short, pleasing customers is a good way to retain them, which has a positive impact on a company’s revenues.

Customer support, meanwhile, is geared towards satisfying the user when he has a problem. Thus, this team tries to remove all the obstacles that a customer might encounter, and provides him with the assistance he needs to enjoy the product or service he wants.

These are the main differences:

  • Being proactive vs. reacting. A customer success team must take the initiative, while customer support is based on a reaction to the customer’s needs: when a user requests help via any channel (email, telephone, social networks), he needs to be given an effective solution soon as possible.
  • A continuous mission vs. a specific task. Customer success is not a task to be carried out in a fixed period, as the relationship with the customer is an on-going one. Customer support, on the other hand, is provided in a series of isolated cases, each with a beginning and an end. They start with a customer’s request and end when his issue is resolved. While the former centres on the long term, the latter concentrates on the short term.
  • Impact on business vs. immediate effectiveness. The metrics that evaluate customer success are much more generic than customer support ones, as in the first case an attempt is made to measure the impact on the business in the long term, whereas with customer support quality and speed of response are evaluated.

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Metrics to evaluate customer support and customer success

As stated, the metrics to evaluate the results of each team are different. Customer success teams do not solve specific problems, but rather try to improve the consumer’s long-term experience. Therefore, the Repeat Rate (evaluating how many customers purchase again), CLV (Customer Lifetime Value, gauging the margin obtained over time with a customer) and Customer Retention Rate (the ability to keep customers; that is, the recurrence of purchases) are some of the metrics to measure this department’s results.

Customer support metrics are more specific, and can be evaluated after each interaction. The CSAT, or Customer Satisfaction Score, measures reactions to the service received; the Customer Effort Score (CES) evaluates the effort the user had to make to get his problem solved, and the Net Promotion Score (NPS) indicates whether the customer would recommend a product or service to those in his social circle.  

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How do I create each team?

Many companies have a customer support team, but they are less likely to have one dedicated to customer success. After all, Customer Support is a marketing field that has been studied for far longer, while the customer success approach is more recent and less defined.

In one way or another, the truth is that any company, in accordance with its size, should have a customer support team, and another customer success one, or professionals focusing on these differentiated approaches, with distinct functions and objectives. This does not mean that the two should not relate to each other. In fact, they should definitely communicate with each other to improve the customer’s overall experience.

These two teams interact with customers all the time, so they will both receive comments about failures and problems, but also advantages, detected by customers, which they should be aware of. A company will operate better if these areas work in a coordinated way, as customer support’s short-term work is complemented by customer success’s long-term vision.

Therefore, creating these teams, training their professionals, assigning them different responsibilities, and evaluating their performance with the help of metrics, is essential. Gmail Meter can be very useful in this regard.

Want to see how we help Customer Succes and Customer Support managers to get inbox stats and manage email success / support teams? Try Gmailmeter.com.

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