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What’s the Difference Between Customer Success & Customer Support? Bridging the Gap for Exceptional Customer Experiences

While customer success and customer support share similar names and serve complementary purposes, these two departments have many important differences. Customer support is a reactive role focused on resolving problems and issues related to your product—for instance, helping a user troubleshoot an error message. The newer field of customer success goes one step further, proactively guiding customers on using your product or service to reach their goals efficiently. 

If you want your organization to grow and thrive, it’s vital to incorporate customer support and customer success into your business strategy. 

How else do customer success and customer support differ? Why do both matter? And how can they support one another? 

We’ll answer these questions and share practical tips for building a better customer success plan. 

What is customer success? 

Customer success is an emerging field that complements and expands on the traditional role of customer support. 

Customer success is discovering what your users are trying to achieve, then supplying the training and resources they need to use your product effectively. That means you must identify and understand your customers’ unique, evolving needs and build positive, long-term relationships. 

In short, the role of your customer success team is to learn what your users want to accomplish, then empower them to achieve it by continuously providing training and education about your product. The customer success team is generally led by a customer success manager (CSM), whose role is to forge strong relationships and increase customer loyalty and retention.  

What is customer support? 

The function of your customer support team is to provide solutions to your customers’ issues, questions, and problems as they arise. 

For example, customer support might involve assisting customers with item exchanges and returns or providing technical assistance if users experience glitches when using your app or website. 

What is customer service, and where does it fit in?

Customer service is another term often used alongside, or in place of, customer success and support.

The main distinction is that customer support helps users resolve product-related issues; customer success helps your customers use your products to achieve their goals; and customer service is focused on providing a positive experience for customers, from sending thank-you notes to offering points or other rewards. 

Learn how our customer service training platform can help you provide better customer experiences, or keep reading to learn more about the differences between customer support and success. 

Read more: How to Use Customer Education to Improve Customer Experience

Customer success vs. support: what are the differences?  

The role of customer support is to mitigate and resolve problems that have already occurred or are currently occurring. This gives customers a safety net, ensuring they can access help if an issue or error arises. 

By comparison, customer success focuses on providing organizations with tools and training to help them thrive—not just today but in the future. It involves putting systems, processes, and resources in place that empower customers to crush their goals and strongly emphasizes relationship-building to enhance customer loyalty. 

Here are a few specific points where customer success and support differ. 

  • Support and success are evaluated using different metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs). Some examples of customer support metrics include resolution times and customer satisfaction ratings. Customer success metrics include customer lifetime value (CLV) and customer retention rates.
  • Customer support is reactive in nature: a customer reaches out with an issue, prompting support to respond. On the other hand, customer success is preemptive and proactive: CSMs and their teams continuously look for ways to help customers reach their goals.
  • Customer support is transactional, beginning when an issue is reported and ending when the problem or ticket is resolved. Customer success is an ongoing process that looks at the entire customer journey—not just moments or touchpoints.

To create satisfied, loyal customers, you must prioritize support and success. 

While customer support and success should operate as separate departments with clearly-defined roles, they should also work together to share information about customers and their needs. 

Tools to improve customer success  

Whether your business is large or small, there are multiple reasons it’s worth the time and effort to improve your customer success plan. 

For example, one study found that organizations with aligned customer success and product management teams experience less churn, reporting rates lower than 1 percent. Plus, nearly three-quarters of businesses prioritize customer success, which means your brand needs to keep up with the trend— or put yourself at risk of losing business to your competitors. 

Fortunately, businesses can leverage numerous tools, tips, and strategies to improve customer success programs. Here are five examples. 

  • Strengthen your customer onboarding process with a platform that makes onboarding easy, like the Learning Cloud by WorkRamp
  • Create a customer education academy to deliver top-notch content about your product’s uses, features, and capabilities
  • Make clear and frequent communication a priority
  • Build a sense of community with your customers
  • Actively seek feedback on how your customer service, support, and success initiatives could be improved

The Learning Cloud makes it easy to track and improve your customer success programs 

Satisfied customers are loyal customers—not to mention some of the most enthusiastic brand advocates. So no matter what industry you’re in, focusing on customer success is a vital strategy for driving revenue and growing your business. 

Deploy customer success programs with greater speed and agility by tapping into the power of the Learning Cloud. Contact us to schedule a free, personalized demo. 


Complete the form for a custom demo.

Emily Homrok

WorkRamp Contributor
Emily Homrok is a freelance copywriter with over eight years of writing experience. She graduated from Drexel University in 2011.

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