Anastasiia Khlystova
Sep 03, 2019 | 3 min read

I’ve read a dozen articles comparing customer service and customer support before taking on this task. And I’ll tell you what. Most of them are so BS. They’re trying to make you believe there’s this huge difference between the two terms and it’s a question of life and death for a business owner to know it.

The same websites will use them interchangeably in all of their articles and blog posts, though. But sure, for the sake of this one article let’s all pretend that customer support and customer service are so incredibly different that we can’t even.

I don’t care what you call it. The terms are interchangeable. Brand it whatever you want. The bottom line is that you want to do one thing: make them come back the next time.

How you go about it is what is really important. That’s the process, not what you call it. That’s it. It’s that simple. Call it customer service, customer care, customer loyalty, customer relations, etc.

Shep Hyken

So, to sum things up, there’s a slight semantic difference, but if you don’t know it, it’s okay and if want to know it, then just read on 🙂

1. Customer support — technical, customer service — all-encompassing

The main difference between customer service and customer support is that the later one is usually associated with technologies and all the help customers may require with them. If someone has trouble installing and using software or need assistance with troubleshooting, you provide them with technical support.

Customer service is something more broad and omni-purpose. While customer support means helping customers with their day-to-day problems and issues when they ask for it, customer service is about everything else. Onboarding, upselling, proactive reach, collecting reviews — all these tasks and much more fall under the category of customer service.

It’s generally considered that customer service takes care of all the non-technical issues as well as helping customers achieve their goals and objectives to the mutual benefit. Customer support answers technical questions, that’s it.

2. Customer support — modern, customer service — outdated (kind of)

Many insiders say that customer service as a notion has appeared long before customer support. 

As I’ve already mentioned the term ‘customer support’ is from the era of technologies, software, and the internet. It’s much newer and therefore, considered more innovative and high-profile.

At the same time, customer service has existed since the first person contacted the store manager about their shipping problems (so, like, forever?). That’s why it even got a reputation of something outdated and old-fashioned.

But nothing should be further from the truth. Customer service is still popular, but in a more traditional way. You expect something bigger from it, something extra. And companies should try to deliver on your expectations.

3. Customer support — about IT, customer service — about IT, but also banks, retail stores, hotels and others

I guess this difference between customer service and customer support is the only one that matters. You see, retail stores, banks and all the brick-and-mortar institutions can’t really have customer support, they provide customer service.

SaaS and e-commerce companies, on the other hand, can have both or even more as there are many similar terms denoting different kinds of assistance.

Costco’s Customer Service portal

Bottom line

It doesn’t really matter what you call it — customer service, support heroes, or client relationship champions. All you should care about is solving your customers’ requests (technical or non-technical) as fast and efficiently as possible.

Proactivity means a lot these days.

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