A detailed guide to customer success vs customer service

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 5 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Customer success and customer service are both critical to the success of any organisation. Although some people use these phrases interchangeably, they're actually very different in meaning. Recognising the differences between them may help you improve your customer service offerings and increase client loyalty. In this article, we explain what customer success vs customer service is and provide some of the key differences between them.

Differences between customer success vs customer service

There are several ways in which customer success vs customer service differs, which are:

Timeliness

Customer success is more concerned with sustaining a long-term connection with customers and retaining their loyalty over a longer period of time than with short-term gains. Customer service concerns itself with servicing customers in the near term by resolving issues or answering queries. This enhances their immediate experience and perception of the brand.

Experiences

Customer success is a proactive reaction to the aims of customers and their long-term happiness. A customer success strategy helps to identify and resolve obstacles that limit customers from achieving their objectives. It provides real-time visibility into key concerns and pools resources to assist clients in overcoming their obstacles. Firms that are client-success-oriented find motivation in identifying customer objectives and expectations, along with expanding the organisation to satisfy those needs. Customer service is more reactive to a customer's developing demands, providing a short-term solution for them and engaging them at the point of purchase.

Revenue

Raising income is a goal shared by both customer success and customer service, although each achieves this in a different way. Client success generates long-term, sustainable income by fostering customer loyalty via the provision of value and assistance. Because of this, customers may be more likely to return for other products and services in the future or even refer the organisation to other prospective customers.

Customer service focuses on helping customers save money or minimise expenditures in the short term. While this may not generate immediate revenue, it builds loyalty and trust in a brand, encouraging clients to return to the organisation in the future.

Related: 10 important customer service responsibilities (plus skills)

Cooperation

To achieve customer success, it's common for the whole organisation to participate in large-scale collaborative operations. Customer service is more dependent on a concentrated effort from one or two sections of the organisation. For example, although setting up a help desk may serve certain regions or divisions of the firm, an organisation that focuses on customer success cultivates an overall culture of customer service within the company.

Quality and value

Customer service usually focuses on the immediate quality of a service provided to a single customer. In addition to providing customer support staff, a returns policy and other customer support resources, brands demonstrate their quality to customers through their goods and services. In terms of customer success, assisting long-term customers highlights to them that the organisation prioritises the value that goes beyond the first transaction and monetary worth of a product or service.

First impressions

Whether an organisation or department focuses on customer success or customer service impacts how they respond to and engage with new customers. Excellent customer service leaves a lasting impression on clients and instils confidence in them about their initial purchases or experiences. Emphasis on long-term client retention using a customer success strategy helps to strengthen that bond.

Metrics

Organisations measure customer success and service in a variety of ways, including:

  • Customer retention: This refers to how an organisation keeps consumers coming back to the brand.

  • Expansion: This is the process an organisation uses to expand its services and raise the total value it provides to customers.

  • Value throughout a lifetime: This is how the organisation adds value to its consumers' lives via its goods and services.

Organisations measure customer service using the following methods:

  • Customer satisfaction: This refers to the customer's overall satisfaction with the organisation's service quality.

  • Resolution time: This refers to the amount of time it takes an organisation to meet with a client or resolve an issue.

Skills

In terms of skill sets, customer success and customer service requirements differ when it comes to designing and executing their procedures. A customer success professional generally has a combination of industry knowledge and customer service skills, a solid grasp of long-term development and an understanding of the importance of client relationships. Customer service representatives have some knowledge of the sector, but they place a greater emphasis on dispute resolution, compassion and communication skills to fix short-term issues.

Interactions

Typically, interactions with customer support and customer service representatives are transactional. Their journey begins with a customer's request and ends with a satisfactory response to that request. Customer success doesn't have a definitive endpoint. It's a continuing, growing and persistent relationship, with employees always striving to develop existing ties to strengthen the link between the client and the organisation.

What is customer success?

Customer success is a long-term strategy that organisations use to ensure customers reach their desired outcomes. This includes knowing more about a customer's expectations for the organisation and its goods or services and developing a more personal relationship with consumers to make them feel appreciated. The success of a customer-client relationship relies on a number of elements, including:

  • Effective communication: This helps organisations understand their customers' requirements and allows them to work towards mutual objectives.

  • Added-value: Adding value to a customer's experience via products and services helps to foster long-term partnerships. Value is more than just the monetary value of an object, it also encompasses factors such as quality and customer appreciation.

  • Feedback: Input from customers at all stages of a business relationship helps an organisation better understand their requirements, how the business fulfils expectations and where clients might want to see adjustments or improvements made in the future.

Related: Customer service skills: examples, definition and how to demonstrate

What is customer service?

Customer service is primarily concerned with short-term transactions, rather than long-term connections with customers. The purpose is to assist customers in navigating difficulties they're having with an organisation or its goods and services, such as resolving technological issues, querying price disputes or just answering general questions. Customer service is also guided by numerous concepts, including:

  • Communication: In customer service, like in customer success, communication and feedback are critical. Excellent customer service includes responding to concerns swiftly, making customer service choices easily available and emphasising a customer-centric business culture.

  • Flexibility: Excellent customer service includes assisting the client in a polite and friendly manner. To effectively satisfy the requirements and expectations of customers, many firms have contingency plans in place, such as waiving the cost of shipping or delivery or offering discounts on services or goods when making future purchases.

  • Respect: The respect that an organisation and its customers have for one another forms the core of the customer service experience. Efforts such as talking civilly and being patient throughout the customer service process encourage efficient communication and strengthen the company-client relationship.

Understanding how customer success helps to support customer service and vice versa

Neither customer success nor customer service works effectively without the assistance of the other. If there's no open communication between the two teams, they may lose important data and ideas central to improving the customer experience. Creating harmony between these teams guarantees that all employees fully understand each customer's particular wants and issues. For example, if service teams find that customers frequently complain about the same technical issue, they can relay this information to the customer success team, working with the UX department to make changes and eliminate the problem.

Related: Customer care vs customer service differences explained

Ensuring customer success

For support teams to be more effective, it's important for customer success professionals to provide context for the problems they're assisting customers with. Understanding a client's bigger organisational goals and brand identity also helps customer service professionals optimise the solutions they provide. True customer success necessitates cross-team cooperation that takes a comprehensive approach to customer requirements. Traditional customer service provides insights into how an organisation might reduce its support expenses, but it rarely, if ever, makes the most of its collaboration with other teams in the organisation.

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