Nowadays, creating a good product isn’t the only guarantee that a business will succeed. Not only are customers concerned about what you’re selling, but also how you sell it and what happens after you’ve sold it to them.
In this age of social media, customers have more influence than they’ve ever had in the past, and can easily influence their peers whether a product is worth buying.
This has caused businesses to build their customer care departments to meet and service customer demands. There are several terms used to refer to customer service: customer relations, customer care, etc., but the ones that are the most often used interchangeably are customer support and customer service.
Many people don’t think about the difference between customer service and customer support. This is understandable, as both terms have their similarities — even Google uses them interchangeably! (Do a Google search for ‘customer support’ and Google also includes the term ‘customer service’).
Both fields are critical to customer experience, and involved in helping customers. Both employ the same skills, such as listening and empathy, to give customers the best experience.
And both use the same channels — email, chat, and phone — for communicating with customers. But that’s where the similarities end.
If you want to reduce customer churn, there has to be a distinction between the two. Should you use the term customer service, customer relations, or customer support for your customer care department?
Customer Relations vs Customer Service
To start off, customer relations vs customer service: customer service is usually one-sided; a response to customer action, something that you provide to your customers to ensure success, and on the other hand, customer relations focuses on the measures your company takes to not only solve customer problems, but engage and create a better customer experience for them as well.
That being said, customer relations encompass all the functions customer service performs, with additional effort made before and after customer service.
Customer Service vs Customer Support
On the other side of the fence, we have customer service and customer support. The main difference between customer service and customer support is that customer support is a specific type of customer service, which involves other skills such as problem solving, documentation and product feedback.
Technically, they shouldn’t be interchangeable because they approach helping customers from different perspectives, but they do overlap. Customer service is mostly an umbrella term that refers to servicing customers, while customer support, an alternative term for “technical support”, is a specific type of customer service that deals with servicing a product.
Customer support is for companies that offer complex technological products. Customer agents act as consultants, providing instructions, troubleshooting and solutions to questions, which is why there are additional skills involved in customer support that customer service does not have.
To Sum Up
It’s easy to confuse the many terms being thrown around when dealing with customer service, but it’s important to note their differences to avoid overlap.
Customer relations focuses on both solving problems and building and maintaining customer relations, while customer service focuses on ensuring that customers get the best experience from the business.
With that in mind, customer support is a specific type of customer service that focuses on how users interact with a product, and require additional technical skills on top of customer service skills.
Although companies may use these terms interchangeably, the only thing that matters at the end of the day is providing the best possible experience for the customers.