The Nitty Gritty: Customer Support VS. Customer Service

Aug 31, 2015

Business man looking confused next to question mark illustration

I’ll admit it: I am not at my best when I’m behind the wheel. If I get cut off in traffic, I immediately say something along the lines of, “(insert expletive or name calling)! Learn how to drive!”

Yet a second thought always occurs after my standard reaction. While I understand a lot of people don’t drive well, I wonder if maybe they DO have something more important to get to. Maybe there’s an emergency or this person is running late for work and could lose their job because of their tardiness. I can’t possibly know the circumstances, so how can I judge their actions?

It can be easy to make sweeping generalizations, especially when you aren’t educated on a particular topic. Too often the words ‘customer support’ and ‘customer service’ are used interchangeably and it’s easy to see why: both are about helping the customer.

The thing is, customer support and customer service play completely different roles in an organization, and each brings its own brand of help to the customer. So, we’re going to pit them against each other to learn more about how each performs – no name calling or swearing allowed.

Are you ready to rumble? It’s time to learn the essential differences between customer support and customer service.

Customer Service: Your Friend in Sales, Your Family for Life

The general role of customer service is to assist a customer before, during and after a purchase. If it makes it easier to imagine, picture customer service as your friend during the sales process. That friend eventually turns into family. Because customer service is what keeps people loyal to a business. An organization can become as creative as they want when it comes to providing assistance during purchases and/or they handle customer complaints. Customer service can also be embedded in the culture of a company. As Shep Hyken says…”Customer service isn’t a department—it’s a philosophy that includes every person and aspect of the best and brightest companies.”

If an organization can afford both departments, it’s often customer service that will loop in the customer support team when a customer has a technical issue with a product.

Customer Support: Your Buddy in Implementation, Your Go-To Tech Hero

While customer service is your friend in sales, customer support is the department that actually helps you to launch and make proper use of the product. They are there to help with any technical aspects or issues that may arise during a customer’s lifetime within the organization. You will also hear this referred to as ‘technical support’ in some companies. This support is often provided by assisting the customer in planning, implementation of the product, training to get started, as well as troubleshooting and maintenance. PATLive, for example, provides live customer service solutions that are available all day, every day.

Customer support is fighting the good fight by ensuring that the customer and the product live in peaceful harmony and keeping things working for them around the clock.

How Customer Support and Customer Service Join Forces

While they each play separate roles in creating a great customer experience, support and service really are a tag team. Many companies set up their customer service team to take the initial calls, even for support. This allows calls to be funneled correctly, especially if an organization is very large. Service helps to gather notes on any issues and, if the customer is irate, to calm them down before handing them off to support. And then support sweeps in and saves the day by providing solutions to a product issue. They are a match made in business heaven.

It’s easy to confuse customer service and customer support. Both roles were created to make things easier on the customer and to help them every step of the way. They aren’t fighting against one another, but rather work as a super team to create an overall exceptional experience for your customers.

Author:

PATLive

PATLive is the premiere 24/7 answering service for businesses just like yours. We've been delighting callers for nearly 30 years and we just keep getting better. Our talented and friendly agents are top notch and are all based in the U.S.

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