Customer service and customer support may seem like interchangeable terms on the surface, but one is just a component of another. Customer support is just a small subset of customer service, aiming to specifically engage in product feedback, persistent documentation, and technical problem-solving. Customer service is the overall term that defines the methods and procedures used to ensure client satisfaction and overall convivence while utilizing your business.

An easy way to differentiate between the two is by separating and identifying the differences between the responsibilities of customer service agents and customer support agents.

Customer Service Agents

Customer service agents are armed with the resources to assist clients with any general problems they may run into utilizing your business. They’re in it for the long term, continually improving customer service through, gathering reviews, onboarding new clients, resolving non-technical issues, etc.

Customer service reps lack specific knowledge on the technical side of your product/service, only being equipped with general knowledge of the company. They focus on general inquiries that they can direct toward more specialized assistance. Their greatest strength is their people skills, identifying and providing solutions to customers’ problems with polite rapport.

Customer Support Agents

Customer support agents assist with the technical side of things, walking customers through troubleshooting procedures pertaining to any online/electronic aspect of your business. Customer support is typically utilized in certain business types where there is a consistent need for technical support, like IT, eCommerce companies, or SaaS (software as a service).

Agents provide support by creating support documentation outlining certain issues, assisting clients with installation or maintenance, working with clients in real-time with live chat, and performing usability tests to understand clients’ problems from their perspective.

A good customer support representative is equipped with strong proficiency in technical troubleshooting, as well as extensive knowledge of your business. While technical expertise and business acumen are top priorities, it’s still important for customer support reps to have the same robust people skills as your customer service agents.

Encouraging Excellent Customer Support and Service

Besides general people skills and technical knowledge, there are a few specific points you can follow if you’re looking to improve your customer service or customer support operations.

Link CRM and customer support tools

Customers are more likely to spend money with companies that offer personalized customer care. By integrating customer support with customer relationship management (CRM) technologies, businesses can transfer data between platforms to create individualized responses to customer problems. Additionally, agents can use information about a customer’s past support difficulties, purchases, and open outbound emails to forecast their future needs.

Equip Agents with Proper Tools

Ensuring your team is equipped with the proper tools to actually do their job is incredibly important. Integrating high-end support systems streamlines your business’s operations and properly conveys your business’s professionalism.

For example, you can utilize an omnichannel customer support system to facilitate communication between you and your clients through multiple different channels. Offering clients the choice to use their preferred communication method, whether that’s over the phone, email, live chat, etc.

Clear Communication

It’s important to communicate clearly when working through a client’s problem. It can be easy to try and sound smart by overloading them with information or overusing industry terminology. However, this only furthers the problem, confusing and overwhelming your client.

Ensure you utilize plain language and general terms when communicating with your customer base. In addition to slowly and precisely providing explanations, instead of bombarding them with potential solutions.

Never Close Conversations Negatively

No call should end in a negative place, even if an agent thinks they efficiently solved their problem, customers will just take their business elsewhere without communicating any issues. It’s incredibly important to take extra care when closing a call, ensuring you’ve resolved any concerns they’ve had with either the business or the customer service.

Pay extra attention to your client’s behavior, if your conversations seem to lead nowhere, inquire what else you can do to assist them. Never close a call until you know for sure they have no other worries.

Establish Business Philosophy and Processes

Without defining a consistent strategy for providing customer support and customer service, your operations could seem completely disorganized from your client’s perspective.

Whether it’s speed, usability, or proactivity, define what positively influences your customer service interactions based on what your business needs.

Empathize

Clients who contact support are already in a state of disarray, so it’s important to express empathy for their situation. If you don’t take the necessary time to make them feel heard and understood, you’ll only further agitate your client. Even if the issue seems simple to you, you need to express even the smallest bit of empathy, so they don’t close themselves off from your help.

Customer-centric Strategy

Isolating customer service and support to just one specific team can create a divide between them and your main team. If your client is always directed to customer service even for the smallest issue, to them your team will seem unprofessional. By encouraging all frontline staff to engage in customer service and support operations, you promote a customer-centric strategy and culture across your business. So, even if a client is still directed to customer service, they’ll feel more secure if someone has already not only empathized with them, but made an attempt to solve their issue.

Why is Customer Support So Important?

Businesses can’t thrive without one thing, customers, if you can’t adequately support them, you ultimately give yourself a massive handicap across any industry. Even by focusing on just one or more of these important factors, you can foster a positive engaging customer service relationship between you and your customer base. Furthering this positive rapport will make your business will gleam with professionalism, and new clients will flock to you.