Customer Support vs. Customer Service: Definitions, Differences, and Strategies

9 min read
Oct 18, 2023
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A customer support team is a group of professionals responsible for providing assistance and resolving customer issues. They serve as the primary point of contact for customers when they have questions, concerns, or problems with a product or service.

Customer service is a customer's overall experience with a company, from the initial interaction to the purchase and beyond. It encompasses all touchpoints and interactions between a customer and a company, including marketing, sales, and post-purchase support. Whereas customer support specifically focuses on resolving issues or problems that customers may encounter after they have purchased a product or service.

While both customer service and support are crucial for your company's success, having a strong customer support team is essential for maintaining a positive reputation. A well-functioning team can turn an initially dissatisfied customer into a satisfied one, thus improving customer loyalty. It also helps to reduce negative word-of-mouth and improve brand perception.

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Customer support vs. customer service: key differences

What are the key differences between customer support and customer service? Is it just a matter of semantics, or are there important distinctions between the two? And what strategies can businesses use to provide great customer service and support?

Let's dive in and explore these questions together.

1. Focus

The primary focus of customer support is to provide technical assistance and resolve any issues that customers may have with a company's products or services. This often involves troubleshooting, diagnosing problems, and finding solutions to help customers maximize their purchases.

Customer service, on the other hand, has a broader focus that encompasses the entire customer experience. This may include things like answering questions, providing product recommendations, and handling customer complaints or feedback.

2. Timing

Customer support is typically provided after a purchase has been made and the customer has started using the product or service. It is often seen as more reactive, as it involves addressing concerns or issues that have already arisen.On the other hand, customer service is an ongoing process that starts from the moment a potential customer interacts with a business. It includes pre-purchase interactions and post-purchase follow-ups to ensure continued customer satisfaction.

3. Level of expertise

Customer support teams are usually composed of technical experts who have in-depth knowledge of the product or service they are supporting. They are trained to troubleshoot and resolve complex issues and may require specialized skills or certifications.

Customer service team, on the other hand, the customer service team may not require the same technical expertise. Their focus is more on building relationships with customers and providing a positive overall experience.

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What are the basics of good customer service?

We've all experienced good and bad customer service at some point. Delivering excellent customer service leaves lasting impressions and sets businesses apart from their competitors. 

But what exactly are the basics of good customer service? 

The answer lies in listening, understanding and empathizing with the customer's needs. A good customer service representative takes ownership of any issue that arises and seeks to find an efficient and effective solution. 

Timely and courteous communication, a willingness to go above and beyond, and a commitment to continuously improving are all key components of good customer service. Remembering these basics is essential for any business looking to increase their bottom line.

Effective customer service channels

Okay, now you know what customer service is. But what customer service channels should you use to deliver that? 

Let's dive into some common examples of customer service channels that can help you provide support and assistance to your customers:

1. Phone support

Many companies have adopted various channels for customer service, but phone support remains one of the most traditional and effective means of providing assistance. With a phone number that customers can call anytime, the support is provided in real time. 

Whether it's for technical support, billing inquiries, or general questions, phone support allows for instant resolutions that leave customers satisfied with their experience. Phone support offers an opportunity for businesses to connect with customers on a personal level, allowing them to feel heard and valued.

One possible drawback of phone support is that it can be time-consuming and expensive. Customers may have to wait on hold for a long time before reaching a representative, resulting in frustration and dissatisfaction. Additionally, hiring and training staff to handle phone calls can also be costly for businesses.

2. Email support

Customers appreciate having options when it comes to getting their questions answered or issues resolved. Email support is one of those options that many people prefer because it allows them to communicate with a business at a time that is convenient for them. 

One of the biggest advantages of email support is that it provides customers with a written record of their interaction with your business. This can be helpful if they need to refer back to the conversation at a later time. 

Plus, email can be less intimidating for some customers than picking up the phone and making a call. 

So, if you want to offer your customers a variety of ways to reach out to your business, email support is definitely a channel worth considering. Conveniently, our help desk software allows you to manage all your customer messages in one place.

3. Live chat software

Have you ever been stuck on a website and couldn't find the answer to your question? Live chat software could be the solution you've been searching for. 

With more and more companies offering this service, it's becoming a convenient way for customers to get help without the frustrating and lengthy process of phone calls or emails. Designed to give real-time support, live chat lets you type out your questions and get an immediate response. 

It's becoming increasingly popular for a reason. Customers love the quick and effortless communication, while businesses appreciate the efficiency and increased customer satisfaction. 

Give it a try and see how easy and convenient LiveChat can be for solving your customer service needs.

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4. Self-service knowledge base

Have you ever found yourself googling for a quick answer before calling customer support? You're not alone. As it turns out, many people prefer having access to a self-service knowledge base when solving issues or answering their questions. 

Companies have noticed this trend and are implementing options like online FAQs, engaging instructional videos and tutorials on their websites. This way, customers can skip the wait times on the phone and get the answer they need in no time. Talk about convenience!

Strategies for delivering exceptional customer support

Now that you understand the differences between customer support and customer service, let's explore some strategies for ensuring great customer support.

1. Prioritize training and development

When it comes to customer support representatives, training and development are key. This field demands specialized knowledge and skills to effectively address customer concerns

That's why prioritizing ongoing training and development is an absolute must. With the rapid evolution of products, services, and technologies, keeping your customer support team up-to-date is crucial.

Investing in employee development improves technical proficiency and demonstrates a commitment to providing exceptional support to customers.

2. Utilize customer feedback

One of the best ways to improve customer support is to listen to what your customers have to say. They're the ones using your products or services day in and day out, and their feedback can provide invaluable insights into how to improve your support process. 

Feedback surveys, social media comments, and other forms of customer communication are all great ways to gather this information. By analyzing and utilizing customer feedback, you'll be able to identify areas for improvement, address common pain points, and help your team provide even better support going forward. Don't be afraid to ask your customers what they think - their input can make all the difference!

3. Foster a positive team culture

Happy employees are more likely to provide good customer support. By fostering a positive and supportive team culture, businesses can empower their support staff to go above and beyond for customers.

This can include recognizing and rewarding top performers, providing opportunities for growth, and promoting open communication within the team.

Strategies for delivering exceptional customer service

In addition to great customer support, your business also needs to focus on customer service. Here are a few strategies for achieving this goal.

1. Personalize the experience

Have you ever been to a store or website where it feels like they really know you? It's a great feeling to be recognized and appreciated as an individual customer rather than just another face in the crowd. 

Companies that take the time to personalize the experience for their customers can really stand out in a crowded market. From tailored product recommendations to remembering your past purchases, these little touches can make a big difference in how you view a brand. 

When a company goes the extra mile to make you feel special, it can really make you feel like a valued customer. This is, in fact, one of the proven strategies for improving customer engagement.

2. Be proactive

When it comes to customer service, it's easy to fall into a reactive mindset. You might be thinking, "As long as I address their concerns when they come up, that's enough, right?" Not necessarily. 

Being proactive can make a huge difference in how customers perceive your business. It shows that you're committed to not only resolving problems, but also to preventing them from happening in the first place. This can be as simple as providing informational resources or following up with customers after purchasing. 

Take the initiative and make customer experience as seamless as possible.

3. Embrace omnichannel communication

Customers expect seamless communication across multiple channels, whether it's through phone, email, chat, or social media. It can be frustrating when you can only contact a business through one channel, and even more so when they take forever to respond. 

That's where omnichannel communication comes in. By allowing customers to connect with a business through multiple channels - like phone, email, chat, or social media - businesses can provide a more seamless experience for their customers. It's all about meeting their needs and making it easier for them to communicate with you.

Set your customer support team up for success!

Customer support and customer service are both essential for ensuring the satisfaction of customers. By understanding the differences between these two terms and implementing effective strategies for delivering exceptional support and service, businesses can build strong relationships with their customers and stand out in a competitive market. 

Remember to prioritize training and development, utilize customer feedback, foster a positive team culture, personalize the experience, be proactive, and embrace omnichannel communication. By doing so, businesses can provide top-notch support and service that keeps customers coming back for more. 

So what are you waiting for? Start implementing these strategies and watch your customer relationships thrive!

The right customer service software can help you achieve your goals. Don't forget to give LiveChat a try, especially with our free 14-day trial.

Connect with customers

LiveChat is a complete customer service platform that delights your customers and fuels your sales.

Trusted by 36,000+ companies

Free 14-day trial

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