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What is the Difference Between Customer Support & Customer Service?

When it comes to customer support and customer service, it can be a little hard to know what the difference is. Especially when you are a sole founder or small startup team that understands the need for it, but not entirely sure how to deliver it to your users.

The easiest way to start this article would be to jump into the definitions of each of these customer centric processes.

Definitions:

Customer Service

This encompasses the entire customer base that you have with a specific focus on the non-technical side of things. Billing, shipping, or anything else that is related to your business and not technical. Customer service focuses on the entire customer lifecycle with a wide range of issues to troubleshoot.

Customer Support

In simple terms this is considered ‘technical support’ which predominantly focuses on helping customers who are having issues with the tech side of things. Due to the advent of so many SaaS or software based platforms, customer support has quickly become the go-to term for anything related to customer troubleshooting.

As you can see support is more of an updated version of customer service due to the large number of software startups out there. But you should also be able to see the need for both options for your customers as well.

Customer Support & Service Contribute to the Balance Sheet

Ultimately, customer support and service can feel like marketing. You put people on the mission, spend money on the tools to complete the tasks effectively but sometimes it just doesn’t feel like accomplishing anything. 

The truth is that there are multiple ways that effectively managing your customers problems can help with the bottom line of your business. Let’s see how effective support and service will help your business’ balance sheet.

  • Onboarding: New tools require people to learn new things. I hate to break it to you but a 1 hour webinar on a feature is not going to work. People do not have the time and ultimately when you buy something, it needs to work. By onboarding effectively through customer support you inevitably remove friction from the process and show the customer how to get the most out of your product. Many customers have a predetermined expectation of what they want and how they would like it to work – listen and support your customers. 
  • Churn: If you work on your onboarding, as mentioned above, you reduce the numbe of people dropping off from trials or after the first month of use. In the State of Customer Service Experience 2017 report, more than 80% of consumers said that poor service would be a determining factor of driving them away from a company. This is quite clearly not great for your balance sheet.
  • Referrals: Word of mouth growth has to be the single best way to grow. Not only is it a subtle compliment for your product and company, it’s also a great way to drive down acquisition/marketing costs. This also greatly affects your bottom line but in a positive way. Less marketing spend can be used elsewhere. Ultimately, people tend to shout about really great experiences. I’m not talking about a phone call to customer service that wasn’t on hold for an hour plus but a truely great bit of help, such as refunding someone if they overran on a subscription and didn’t mean to. Not an instant win but it could come to fruition at a later date.

Slow Service is Bad Service

The Northridge Group, in their State of Customer Service Experience 2017 report that “customers want to be met on their channel of choice and have little tolerance for multiple contacts, long hold times, slow responses and ineffective issue resolution.”

We have all become accustomed to the idea of an always on world, support and service should also always be on. It does not matter if it’s on your company’s Facebook page or at 1am on the other side of the world, when a customer experiences a problem it’s only their problem and they need it solved.

Having the right tools and systems in place to help your customer is crucial. Even if you cannot cater to a customer’s needs at 2am, you can still implement live chat support that captures details and saves them so you can respond first thing in the morning. You can set up FAQs so that people can try to figure things out on their own. 

These little steps can provide enough of a buffer so that you can help the customer when you can, setting up bots, FAQs and automating live chats also ensures your team looks and feels bigger than what it is plus it just takes some of the strain off your hands of manual response and storing data etc.

Cater to Customers Needs

We have all become used to a certain level of support, especially for tech products such as SaaS platforms. Our ever connected needs and society has made us want answers to questions yesterday and in some cases this impatience can be a serious cause of churn. Nobody likes churn or spending more money on getting customers so it’s vital that you take steps to provide some level of customer support and service.

Software is eating the world as they say so make use of this tech and spend a tiny bit of your budget on setting up the right tools for your customers. Here are some examples to consider implement right away:

Live chat: It feels strange to see a website these days without live chat support. Our need for answers right now means the live chat widget at the bottom of your website can really help to set customer expectations and provide a small buffer with a strategic FAQ response. 

live chat widget

Shared inbox: You may have multiple SaaS projects or just a lot of emails (HR, PR, marketing, sales, IT, data etc) and ultimately you want to monitor all interactions between your customers and your projects. Generally speaking you would need to log in and out of accounts, switch tabs and swap screens. A lot of the requests and messages will be missed or forgotten about. Shared inboxes should be a go-to tool for all businesses, SaaS hackers and anyone that has multiple emails and live chats. By integrating all channels and projects into a single shared inbox, you and your team can stay on top of each channel. No missed customers asking for help or leads that reach out and fall between the cracks.

FAQs: Answering the same questions over and over is a tiresome process and one that most of us are not fans of especially when a growing to-do list is sitting next to you. FAQs provide the quick and easy option of providing self-serve answers as well as pointing customers in the right direction. Instead of providing silence and letting the customer wait, you can provide them with the chance to try and fix the problem on their own.

faq

In conclusion, customer support and service are both crucial to your business, no matter the size. Sole founders or indie hackers with a small distributed team, you need to ensure that customers are not frustrated by your product in a technical or general way.

Using tools to assist you is also vital so that the support and service you offer is not subpar because responding to someone 2 days later is not going to cut it. Instant responses and self-serve solutions alongside key tools like live chat and shared inboxes ensures you maximise your time and efforts spent on this area of business.

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