Customer Support vs Customer Success

Customer Success
Suprej Venkat Jul 28, 2021

Customer Support vs Customer Success

What is Customer Success?

Let’s start with what Customer Success is. Customer Success is proactively managing customers with the single goal of ensuring they get maximum value from your product. You do that by understanding your customers, why they bought your product and what they are looking to achieve from the product. When customers get value from your product, it directly increases your revenue through possible upsell opportunities but more importantly, will also reduce churn. Customer Success will help solve the problem where the sales and marketing team are doing a great job in adding customers but if there is not a proactive relationship maintained with the customer throughout and if you do not ensure the customer gets the most value from the product, they will churn. Customer Success is a new function that came into existence in the past few years, with product companies moving towards the subscription model and the focus shifting from one-time sales to recurring revenue. One of the key aspects to increasing recurring revenue is to reduce churn and for that, customers must see full value in your product. This is where the Customer Success function came in. The Customer Success Managers and representatives play a very important role in Customer satisfaction and revenue predictions.

What is Customer Support?

Customer Support is usually the first point of contact when customers need help or have problems with the product. We all would have experienced Customer Support in one form or the other when we called our banks, telephone providers, or for one of the numerous other services that we use. It is a reactive function. Usually, there is a call center or chat or social media channels that are monitored by Customer Support executives who respond when a customer reaches out. Some businesses charge for Customer Support and have different SLAs based on pricing tiers. Customer Support is an important aspect of any business and a lot of customers leave companies because of poor Customer Support. OK, so both Customer Success and Customer Support are important aspects of a business – both provide services to customers. Both are important to reduce churn and keep customers satisfied. But, what’s the real difference here? Let’s have a look.

6 Differences between Customer Success and Customer Support

Customer Success

Customer Support

Approach

Proactive

Reactive

Customer Success teams must stay on top of customers, their usage and the objectives that their business is trying to achieve using your product. They should hand hold the customer so that the customer gets the most out of the product. Customer Support on the other side must be prepared with documentation, technical know-how and wait for a customer to reach out to them.

Mode of Operation

Long-term

Transactional

Customer Success starts when a customer onboards. It continues throughout the customer’s journey with the product/company. The focus is ensuring long-term success. Customer Support is transactional. When a ticket is raised, the transaction starts and when the ticket is actioned and marked as resolved, that transaction is complete.

Objective

Deliver Value

Solve/Prevent Issue

Customer Success focuses on the long-term delivery of value to Customers. Customer Support focuses on solving and preventing issues for their customers.

Teams

Focus on customer

Focus on product

Customer Success is a relatively new area and the understanding required varies from customer to customer. Unlike Customer Support, where the focus is on solving a given problem, for Customer Success, understanding the business objectives and what value the product provides to a customer is important. Customer Support has been around for a long-time, so the job roles are well defined and the expectations are clear. Customer Support needs to understand how a product works, both functionally and technically, to help customers.

ROI

Sales & Marketing cost

Operational Cost

Customer Success on the is a long-term vision activity. For SaaS businesses that have high churn, a Customer Success team is a must have. The ROI for Customer Success will be realised when the lifetime value of the customer is increased and the churn is reduced. Customer Support is a must have. Anyone who sells a product or service needs to provide support and lot of companies charge money for it as well. So, the ROI for Customer Support will be planned as part of the operational cost.

Metrics

Churn numbers, Touch points, upsells, license utilization

Total/Resolved Tickets, Satisfaction Index etc.

Customer Success metrics are more around touchpoints, upsells, reduction in churn numbers and license utilization. Customer Support team performance can be measured by number of tickets raised, number of tickets resolved and satisfaction index of the customer for whom the tickets were resolved.

Customer Success and Customer Support are in fact complimentary

As we can see from the differences between the two facets, both Customer Support and Customer Success are critical business processes for SaaS businesses to grow and retain Customers. In fact, Customer Success is all about getting a 360-degree view of the customer, from what the customer’s objective is, to how they use your product, to what issues they face with the product. That’s where integration with the Customer Support product adds so much value. The number of tickets submitted, solved, unsolved and feedback rating can be used to build a health score on how the customer is doing. It is a leading indicator of Customer Churn risk. So, we think it’s best to keep Customer Success and Customer Support teams as separate departments with clear roles and responsibilities. They should complement each other, working towards the common goal of keeping the Customer happy and ensuring the Customer gets the best value from your product. This in turn reduces churn and creates more advocates from your happy customers.

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