Customer success and customer service may sound similar. But what’s the difference between these two important disciplines?
Emilia M. D’Anzica, founder of GrowthMolecules and author of Pressing On as a Tech Mom, has consulted companies across numerous industries on customer success. She says one of the core differences is being proactive versus being reactive.
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Customer success is proactively engaging with customers to help them get the most out of their investment. The goal is to help customers find lasting impact and value from the product to drive loyalty and long-term contract renewal. When customers don’t see value, they’ll switch to the competition.
Customer success requires building relationships with customers to know where they want to be a year from now and proactively helping them reach their goals. CS leaders and CSMs aim to be continual partners with their customers to help them get the most out of the product and stick with the company. And while CS is often connected with B2B software, D’Anzica points out that companies in numerous industries have robust customer success programs.
Customer success efforts are directly linked to a business’s operations and should be part of the go-to-market strategy. Customer success impacts the entire customer journey because it helps customers reach their goals and get the most out of the product.
On the other hand, customer service helps customers when they get stuck. This service takes many forms, including in-app support, a knowledge base or a contact center customers can contact when they need help at the moment.
Customer service exists to answer questions and solve problems and applies to every industry and type of company. While customer success relies on relationships, customer service tends to have more one-off interactions. A customer doesn’t contact the service department unless they have an issue to resolve. But customer service is also crucial to being there when customers need it and has a strong influence on how customers view the company.
Both customer success and customer service are focused on improving customer loyalty and helping customers find value in the product or service. Companies with a customer success team also likely have a customer service team to address different issues.
Although their methods and focuses differ, both customer success and customer service are critical to creating the overall customer experience.
Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist and the bestselling author of The Customer of the Future. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here.