Customer Success vs. Customer Support: What Are the Differences?

Customer success vs. customer support: although these two terms appear similar, they actually refer to two different, yet complementary, functions within a company. Fulfilling a proactive role, customer success focuses on problem prevention and creates value by enabling clients to achieve business goals. Customer support is reactive and acts as a resource for clients to use when they encounter specific technical issues and need help. 

For customer-centered enterprises, knowing where these elements both differ and intersect is essential to creating the best client experience possible. To help further your understanding of these important differences, this article will breakdown the customer success vs. customer support dynamic and outline how prioritizing a proactive approach towards client relations can empower you to prevent churn, create value, increase the likelihood of renewal, and encourage upsells/cross-sells.

As a result of these proactive measures, you can provide value, increase customer success throughout the entire lifecycle, and drive customer advocacy.

Customer Success vs. Customer Support: How They Differ and How They Intersect

The major differences between these two teams arise from the way the proactive measures championed by customer success fundamentally diverge from the reactive role that customer support plays. To explore this divide, we will first look at customer support’s unique responsibilities and how they directly lead to aiding customer success teams

Customer support preoccupies itself by focusing on specific client issues and complaints that are occurring in the moment, including anything from confusion over a new feature to an application glitch or serious technical malfunction. Customer support teams work with clients to fix these issues in real-time, helping them to find a solution while documenting the problem in-question—all while providing a friendly, constructive experience. After these interactions, clients should leave with a reliable solution to their problem and a positive perception of the organization, two things that reliably raise satisfaction metrics

Once each customer support interaction has ended, certain details are recorded, and over time, this data translates into important key performance indicators, including:

  • The number of resolved incidents.
  • The average time to resolve an incident.
  • The number of overall incidents per user.
  • Individual customer interaction scores.

With the help of customer-centricity software, this data is seamlessly provided to the entire company, helping to inform customer success teams on how they can proactively engage clients.

How Customer Success Creates Value Using Data-Driven Measures

Customer success is vital to the success of an entire organization. A customer success team’s focus should primarily be on establishing, preserving, and improving customer relationships by helping customers reach business goals through the use of their organization’s product. Key things for customer success teams to concentrate on are personalized expansion opportunities, customer advocacy achievement, and churn prevention. 

Using different client data insights, including those compiled by customer support teams, customer success teams analyze trends such as usage frequency, overall engagement, number of open support tickets, number of days for an escalation to be resolved, and time spent actively using the product. Using this information, customer success engages clients in personalized ways, achieving the following:

1. Personalized Expansion Opportunities

With clients becoming more engaged after a successful onboarding, your team will be afforded increased opportunities to derive value. By maintaining proactive communication based on actionable information yielded from recorded behaviors and segmentation, you can more effectively form expansion solutions personalized to each client. 

For instance, customer behavior metrics reveal exactly how and why each client is using the product, allowing you to anticipate which aspects will benefit them most. As a result, you can provide offers even before customers realize they have a need for them. This leads to both increased value and a closer client relationship, bringing customer advocacy as a result.

2. Customer Advocacy Achievement

Customer advocacy revolves around learning a client’s needs and offering opportunities that align with their best interests. Customer advocacy is an incredibly effective way to build loyalty towards your enterprise, and data-driven customer success is essential in making that happen. Some of the central techniques used by customer success teams to perform this duty include:

  • Creating open communication channels geared towards constructive feedback.
  • Surveying customers to understand how they can best be supported.
  • Making customers feel valued by keeping them informed and tailoring messages to their unique characteristics.

Your customer success team is well-positioned to communicate these things with your customers, as they are the direct line to the voice of your customer

It is also recommended that you encourage customers to be brand advocates. You might ask for a testimonial quote from the customer to use on your site or in promotional materials, demonstrating to others how your products create success. A customer advocate might also be willing to give a keynote presentation on how they implement your product into their workflow and the value it brings, raising awareness and understanding of your brand.

3. Churn Prevention

A high churn rate can be caused by a number of factors, including poor onboarding experiences, declining usage, and especially, a lack of engagement. Unlike customer support teams who focus on reactive measures, modern customer success teams work to prevent these elements by tracking key data points like product usage to best understand overall client health, and proactively reduce pain points. Providing value early with a successful onboarding experience can lessen the chance of early departure and set up the user to more capably reach usage milestones. 

Declining usage after adoption can be counteracted by proactive engagement. If a customer has low usage numbers, automated communication can reach out to them to offer educational opportunities (e.g. webinars, training, etc.) on certain features that are well-suited for their industry. These automated communications entice customers to become more active, diminishing the likelihood of churn and opening up opportunities to pursue value-creating opportunities.

By using the above strategies, your customers can become as engaged with your company as you are with them, leading them to become advocates for your enterprise as well. 

Create the Best Client Experience with Quality Customer Success and Customer Support

Despite the inherent differences in scope, both customer success and customer support have important roles to play in customer retention and value creation. A recent CS survey shows that collaboration among teams is common—over 50% of CS teams report spending around 25% of their time working with customer support. So, rather than being in opposition (customer success vs. customer support), the two positions should complement each other (customer success and customer support) in order to improve the customer experience as a whole. With a harmonious success/support relationship, your customers will remain loyal and active, creating greater overall value for your brand. 

In these challenging times, you can’t afford to buy before you try. Get started for free today. Totango’s customer success platform empowers both customer success and customer support teams to work together to drive adoption, create value, and prevent churn. 

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