The terms “customer service” and “customer support” are bandied about somewhat indiscriminately throughout the business world. In other words, people use these terms without fully understanding what they mean.
The two terms mentioned above are thought to be interchangeable for too many consumers of goods and services. The reality is quite different. While there are some similarities between customer service and customer support, there are just as many differences.
This is true from one industry to the next. That even includes the robust online gambling industry in the UK. Really? According to Casino-Wise.com, all non-GamStop betting sites offer customer service or support.
What is GamStop? GamStop is a self-exclusion program that allows UK problem gamblers to regulate their online gambling activities without intervention from a customer service or support representative.
The following sections will look at the similarities and differences between customer service and customer support. It should be noted that the following information applies to the UK’s online gambling industry.
Customer Service Versus Customer Support – Similarities
While these two functions are not the same, they do have similarities. Of course, things might vary from one industry to the next, but generally, there are some similarities. The most prominent similarities are:
- Both seek to improve the customer’s experience
- Both hire employees who tend to have excellent face-to-face communication skills
- Both do influence how customers view companies
- Both have the ultimate goal of trying to improve the company’s retention of customers
- Both use similar “tools of the trade” like live chat platforms and surveys of performance
As anyone can see, most similarities have little to do with job function. Instead, they tend to focus on the surface or general characteristics of how to serve customers.
Customer Service Versus Customer Support – Differences
In terms of the differences between these two job functions, the differences are much more meaningful. Looking at these differences closely, it’s easy to identify five differences worthy of consideration.
Proactive versus Reactive
Customer service representatives are usually charged with proactively doing the little things that make a customer’s experience more meaningful and enjoyable. Recommending certain products or services would fall within this realm. So would be available to explain details about goods and services.
On the customer support side, most attention is spent reacting to customer complaints and issues. The representatives will deal with problems that have already occurred and then fix them to the customer’s satisfaction.
Intervention versus Start-to-End Servicing
Customer service begins when the customer is first engaged about the purchase they want to make. Customer service representatives often stay engaged in the process until the customer has made a final decision.
Customer support representatives are not involved in the purchasing process other than intervening when something goes wrong or a customer has a specific question about the purchasing process.
All Companies versus Some Companies
Customers need answers to questions before they purchase goods and services. That is why almost every company on planet earth maintains a staff of customer service representatives.
On the other side of the coin, some goods and services don’t demand that customer support representatives be available to resolve problems. For that reason, there are a lot of companies that don’t employ customer support representatives. For the most part, customer support is only used in the IT or eCommerce spaces where the layperson is more likely to struggle with issues.
Broad Knowledge Base versus Specific Knowledge
Since customer service reps are usually engaged in the entire selling/purchasing process, they have to have a broad range of knowledge. They need to know about the company, what it stands for, and all about the goods or services being offered for sale.
Customer support reps must focus most of their attention on specific goods or services. When customers summon an agent, something is up with a good or service. The customer support rep’s job is to know how to resolve the customer’s issue as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Relationship Build Responsibility versus Handling Specific issues
Since customer service reps are on the frontline, they must engage with customers on every level. A good customer service rep will use every interaction as an opportunity to build a relationship with the customer. Good customer relationships usually translate to more business for the company in the future.
Customer support representatives work more on the backend. With every call, they must resolve an issue or two as quickly and efficiently as possible. They don’t have time for relationship building because many other customers’ calls usually wait in the background.
The next time you encounter a customer service or customer support representative, you’ll better understand what the person can do for you.