Understanding the Differences: Customer Success vs Customer Service
The world of business is rapidly evolving and the terms that define various aspects of business operations are often used interchangeably, causing some confusion. Two such terms that are often confused are Customer Success and Customer Service. While both represent essential aspects of a successful business model, they are different in various significant ways. This article delves into the distinctions between the two.
What is Customer Service?
Typically, customer service refers to support provided by a business to its customers before, during, and after purchasing and using goods or services. It can take various forms - from providing assistance in a retail store, resolving problems faced by customers, handling returns, and more. The main aim of customer service is to enhance the overall customer experience and resolve immediate issues.
For instance, when a customer contacts a business regarding a defect or functionality issues with the product, customer service representatives work to resolve the issue promptly. They may provide instructions to fix the problem, arrange a replacement, or, in some cases, offer a refund if the product is deemed faulty.
Evidently, customer service focuses on resolving problems that have already occurred. It is reactive in nature, only springing to action when a problem is presented.
What is Customer Success?
On the other hand, customer success is a newer concept that originated from the Software as a Service (SaaS) industry but has since spread to many different types of businesses. It deals with proactively working to ensure that customers achieve their desired results using a business's products or services. This approach revolves around understanding what 'success' looks like to customers in relation to their specific needs and work to help them achieve this success.
While customer service is reactive and problem-focused, customer success is proactive and growth-centric. Success managers take time to understand the customer's needs, goals, and potential roadblocks before they become problems. This could, for instance, involve regular check-ins with the customer, offering advice on how best to use a product, or recommendations on other products, services, or features that could benefit the customer.
The Key Differences
The differences between customer success and customer service can be boiled down into a few key points:
Proactive vs Reactive Approach
As mentioned earlier, customer service is generally reactive. It deals with problems as they arise and aims to resolve them as quickly and effectively as possible. On the other hand, customer success takes a proactive approach. It involves looking ahead to preempt potential issues and helping customers get the most out of a product or service.
Customer service interactions are usually short-term, resolving one-off issues. Once the problem has been addressed, the interaction typically ends. On the contrary, customer success is about establishing long-term relationships with customers. Customer success managers often work with customers over a prolonged period, aiding in their growth and, in return, foster customer loyalty.
While customer service focuses on solving a specific problem, customer success has a broader objective. The ultimate goal is to ensure that the customer is satisfied, successful, and continues to use the business's products or services. Thus, customer success is directly linked to business success.
A Harmonious Relationship
Despite their differences, customer success and customer service are not mutually exclusive. For a business to thrive, it should focus on both ensuring that customers are achieving their desired outcomes (customer success) and also addressing specific issues promptly and effectively (customer service).
In conclusion, businesses that understand the difference between customer success and customer service are better equipped to serve and retain their customers. Through a mix of both proactive and reactive strategies, businesses can enhance the customer experience, thereby building trust, satisfaction, and, ultimately, business success.