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What’s the Difference Between Customer Service and Customer Support?

At first glance, we may remain with the idea that Customer Service and Customer Support are synonymous. Considering how similar the words are, it can be quite confusing. Nonetheless, each one plays a different role when it comes to offering the best customer experience. Putting aside their similarities, we can start to point out the core differences between Customer Service and Customer Support.

Customer Service covers every interaction with customers through the purchasing process. We can put it as the first access customers have for questions or issues with a product or a service. On the other hand, customer support is a narrowed branch of customer experience. It is also commonly assigned as technical support.

We offer both services at Conversation24, and we can see how tricky it can be to differentiate them. In this article, we explore the most significant differences between Customer Service and Customer Support.


SaaS and Tech Companies and the Origin of Support Teams

Let’s start with a tiny bit of history. It will help us to understand the bigger picture! Back in time, companies always had an IT sector that took care of installing software for employee’s everyday use. They were also in charge of the maintenance, which could easily generate high expenses. However, through the years, they came up with an economical solution – SaaS.

SaaS stands for Software as a Service. In a few words, we can define it as a manner of delivering applications over the Internet as a service. In other terms, instead of installing and keeping up with software maintenance, you can simply access everything via the Internet.  

Have you ever heard about DropBox or Google Drive? Those are both cloud-based services. Due to their convenience, their popularity skyrocketed. Hence, just like any software, they had to reinforce their technical support teams. 

When it comes to the SaaS model, customers communicate straight with their suppliers. That is to say that a SaaS support agent will interact and deal with non-IT staff.

To sum it up, we can say that the old traditional in-house IT department evolved to become a customer support team. It explains why people often describe customer support as a technical form of customer service.


Now Let’s Talk About Team Skills

So how can we differentiate the job of a customer service agent from a customer support one?

Soft skills are more important than hard skills for a customer service team. There are no requirements for a detailed understanding of the technical aspects of products and services. They must be able to handle customers patiently as if they had to play the role of a therapist. Before they bring up any solutions, they have to listen carefully and be attentive to what customers have to say.

To be part of the customer support team, you must bring in some technical expertise. The services offered by those agents are, in a certain way, more reactive. They are somehow the live guides to customers. It’s within their responsibilities to explain how customers can install and maintain the product.


Customer Service and Customer Support – Which One Is Better?

People may try to balance the aspects to define which one is better than the other. But resuming the discussion to who does it better would be too vague. If your business does not sell SaaS products, it’s best to stick to customer service. It represents the company’s exchanges with its customers and their business objective of providing value for their investment.

SaaS companies should pick the term customer support as it is related closely to what they used to call IT support. Their focus is to guide their customers to use their services in an efficient way. 

In conclusion, we can agree that every business must have a customer service sector – but they might not need a customer support sector. For this reason, being aware of the differences will guide through hiring and training people accordingly.


So How to Differentiate Them? Here’s an Example!

Let’s use a multinational company that sells furniture and home accessories as an example. Their customer service team handles everything about the purchase. It can be about an exchange, a missing box to finish assembling the wardrobe, or a refund process. 

But if you have trouble installing an electronic device or assembling a desk, then you have to reach the customer support team. They have the expertise to assist with technical issues. 

There was a time when the whole customer experience could end up being long, as it depended on long phone calls or e-mail messages that took ages to get an answer. 

Luckily nowadays both customer service and customer support can make good use of chat and messaging apps like WhatsApp Business and Facebook’s Messenger. 


Which One Should We Have?

You may still come across businesses that insist on using the terms customer service and customer support interchangeably. They are both about building a team strong enough to provide customers with an outstanding customer experience in the long run. 

However, depending on the company’s field, it is better to have both and make sure to develop them simultaneously, growing teams stronger. Feel like improving your customer service or customer support sector? We can help


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