Customer Support vs Customer Service: What’s the Difference?


March 15, 2021

Written by

Stephanie Walker


Do you agree that user support is the same as customer service?

The truth behind whether the two are the same or not has been an ongoing debate among business owners. Indeed, it would be quite easy and convenient to simply nod the inquisition off and think there’s not much that separates the words ‘support’ and ‘service’ in addressing customers.

However, it is this surface-level perspective that leads companies to sell themselves short to new customers and blurs what could have been an opportunity to dig deeper into end-user touchpoints.

To put it bluntly, there is a stark difference between the impact of customer service or support service on customer satisfaction.

What is customer support?

First on the comparison between customer support vs customer service is detailing what it means to offer support to customers.

Customer support, also best known as tech or IT support, is the role that businesses take to ensure their buyers are using their services and products properly. It is exemplified through troubleshooting, giving walkthroughs and guides, after they buy from you and try your services.

It is typical in companies that offer software, tech services, gadgets and appliances. Retail businesses also do this, and it involves providing additional product details to entice new leads to push through with buying, addressing client queries, clarifying any misunderstandings or confusions people may have about your product and business as a whole.

Implementing tech assistance usually takes place once end-users directly approach your business for it through using any of the contact options provided on your website or social media page.

Now, weighing in between client support vs customer service, the former is also a way for your business to exude just how integral your services can be in delivering a refined customer experience and making the lives of your shoppers better. 

The manner in which you explain how people use your product and maximize what you have to offer is a determinant for whether they would want to continue subscribing to and supporting your brand. Surely, you may have talked to a customer support agent to ask about any of the following:

  • Clarify steps or instructions on how to assemble or use an item you purchased from their store (say, a furniture or a gadget);
  • Double-check that you didn’t miss any step while activating your account;
  • Explain what all the other charges listed in your receipt mean;
  • Retrace your previous statement of accounts and update your current billing statements, or;
  • Elaborate return policies and terms of use

Receiving a half-heartedly done, incomplete, or inefficient assistance in all or any of the situations listed above instantly diminishes end-user satisfaction and trust. How else will your target audience rely on your services if you as the provider of these solutions are struggling with demonstrating what your brand is all about?

What is Customer Service

The best way to define customer service is to describe it as the rigorous behind-the-scenes that takes place once people decide to subscribe to your services and continue to choose you over other brands they may encounter. It’s the road you take with your end-users to build relationships with them and sustain it.

Giving service to your end-users whenever they need your assistance humanizes your brand and increases your buying influence. After all, people don’t always just buy physical products from your business. They seek your expertise and knowledge in your chosen industry to enlighten specific issues or queries they may have about using your products. 

Between customer service or customer support, client service outweighs the other when it comes to building credibility and exuding an image that will make onlookers feel they can rely on and trust your business.

It encompasses the following questions:

  • How do you treat new and existing customers?
  • How do you continue to make sure they are happy and comfortable with their services?
  • Have you taken the time to get to know your followers and shoppers and if so, what makes them unique from other communities of end-users?
  • What steps are you taking to protect user data and secure their privacy?
  • What are your countermeasures for bad reviews, unhappy clients, and claims about negative user experience with your company?

You can still give end-users technical assistance with customer service, only this time, you are also digging deeper into their concerns. You, as the business, address blind spots hindering your products and services from delivering a fool-proof customer experience.

Customer Support vs Customer Service

Is there a difference between customer service and customer support? Definitely.

The distinctions are quite confusing to understand at first, considering how frequently both cross the line and the limitation separating one from the other. 
But, these contrasting elements can be identified through listing the skills and traits required for your team to ace support and service.

There are competencies that your staff develop in implementing customer service vs support, and their familiarity will depend greatly on the quality of training they receive.

Now, what are the skills and traits needed in the two major divisions of B2C relations?

Customer support is synonymous with product familiarity, technical know-how, and company background. It is crucial to brief new support representatives aptly so that when they are out on the field assisting real customers, then they wouldn’t stammer or draw a blank whenever faced with questions about who you are, what your company does, or what services you have lined up.

Support agents are tasked to go through company and product manuals, terms and conditions, privacy and return policies, as well as frequently asked questions about the company they work for.

Another key skill of effective customer support is the capability to put actionable solutions into concise and user-friendly words. In other words, it means explaining extremely technical aspects of using your services into terminologies that users will have no problem understanding.

On the other hand, customer service entails professionalism, patience, dedication, empathy and people skills in general. Interrelationships with customers is the defining factor of client service.

In fact, most experts would argue that end-user service is an umbrella term that houses the responsibilities involved in customer support.

People notice everything about the way representatives or staff communicate with them. It’s in the way they are greeted, the manner by which their queries are addressed, and how their concerns and feedback are acknowledged.

Experienced customer service staff would know how to convey the right tone to clarify specific client issues, use the appropriate choice of words to pacify angry customers, or reply with sufficient terms of agreement to imply concern and understanding on the user’s part.

Final Thoughts

The question is really not about whether to focus more on improving customer support or customer service because you can never really move past the other and expect to keep up with your operations smoothly.

Yes, you may have employees who know your business like the back of their hand, but are they trained enough to handle customer arguments and user dissatisfaction? Likewise, how are you going to expound on your expertise if, at first contact, you fail to exemplify how much you know about your products and the industry where you belong?

Gaining familiarity and clarity on where customer service vs customer support service differ and overlap lets you align your brand objectives. It sheds light on the hurdles that prevent you from reaching out to your target users, while breaking down the areas where you may be lacking and require dramatic improvement.

If you are still puzzled about how to pinpoint which is which between the two, or are facing a dilemma on how to limit the cost of enhancing both areas of customer experience, don’t worry. There is always the option to include outsourced client service or end-user support. One of the expertise of New Media Services is to augment client support and service efforts of startups and SMEs. 

We combine human-powered assistance with innovative alternatives to handling bulk user queries and varying complexities of customer concerns. Some of the communication channels we outsource to help boost B2C interactions include live chat, email, and calls. We also enable global competency through multilingual assistance.


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