A large part of digital marketing is focused on building a great customer experience.
By creating useful content, reaching customers where they are instead of starting irritating direct conversations, and putting the customer journey at the forefront of your marketing strategies, customers feel more comfortable than ever with brands.
However, there are many misconceptions about creating great customer experiences, including the terminology commonly used for customer-facing teams in your digital marketing department.
Two of the most commonly misused terms are customer success and customer service.
While these two terms are often used interchangeably, they refer to two specific areas of working with customers, and shouldn’t be confused.
In this article, we’ll take a deeper look into customer success vs customer service, and help you understand the differences.
We’ll also look at how a well-rounded digital marketing strategy will use both of these approaches to help facilitate the best possible customer experience.
What is Customer Success?
Customer success is a proactive strategy that your business puts together to create a specific outcome with your customer base by anticipating any problems that might arise and working to create a long-term customer relationship.
Customer success involves establishing and nurturing relationships with customers by understanding their journeys, finding areas in your process for improvement, going above and beyond to help customers achieve their goals, and facilitating a more successful end result with customers using your products or services.
Customer success works to create value in your brand in the mind of a customer.
By predicting the next steps they will take and being ready to improve their experience, you can help customers have a better connection with your brand.
Not every business practices customer success, and just focuses on their customer service.
However, this means they could be losing out on opportunities to upsell, cross-sell, and offer other relevant products and services.
Brands that don’t have customer success strategies can lose repeat business and potential revenue.
Why Does it Matter?
Customer success is a newer idea than customer service that is just now being implemented in digital marketing strategies.
By making your products and services have incredible value to your customers, they happily return to make additional purchases or extend their contracts with your brand.
In an increasingly competitive world where there are more and more businesses in a single industry to choose from, it’s important that your brand stands out.
Having excellent customer service is more than just a bragging point, it’s the foundation for creating a brand reputation that attracts both new and returning customers.
When customers know they can expect a consistent, great experience with your company and you actively go out and find ways to improve their engagement with your brand rather than wait for customers to come to you, it helps increase your customer satisfaction rates.
Happy customers are willing to pay for additional products and services, as well as become unofficial spokespeople for your brand by telling their networks the benefits of working with you.
What is Customer Service?
Customer service is a customer experience strategy that works to answer the questions and solve problems that your customers have had with your products or services.
Customer service is often what we think about when thinking about customer-facing teams, and it is an important part of your communication with customers.
Think about the last time you had an issue with a product you purchased.
After trying to solve the problem yourself, you likely went to the company website to try and find a troubleshooting page, helpline, or chat option to discuss the issue with a team member.
That process is a large part of customer service.
However, this is a reactive approach where you only engage with the customer service team when you come to them with an issue.
While this is an important service that should be offered through your brand, you need to understand that it doesn’t build relationships or improve your brand’s standing with customers.
Instead, customer service solves problems as they arise, helping your audiences feel acknowledged by your team.
Answers the Minute You Need Them
Customer service can also refer to helping guide your customers through their journey by being available to answer questions, direct customers to the right contact or page, or showing customers how to use your products and services.
Think about the chat options that pop up on many websites offering help for any questions you may have. That’s customer service.
Great customer service is highly dependent on timing. Customers with concerns or questions want quick replies.
It is frustrating to have an issue you want to discuss with a company, only to be stuck in an hour-long hold or send an email and never receive a response.
Creating a great customer experience means being a quick and helpful communicator.
Dedicated customer service teams are able to help their customers faster than the competition and provide relevant answers to queries as soon as they come in.
What is the Difference Between Customer Success vs Customer Service?
When comparing customer success vs customer service, it’s helpful to put things in perspective of reactive and proactive strategies.
Customer service is a reactive approach that almost every business has in place, while customer success is a proactive strategy that takes time, planning, and implementation to succeed.
While both customer success and customer service work to improve the experience of your customers, they have different end goals.
Customer success has the goal of creating strong, long-lasting relationships with customers by being actively looking to the future to find areas of improvement.
For example, a customer success team member might notice that a client has purchased a specific product from your brand.
They might notice that the purchased product works best while in combination with another product, so they will reach out and offer a free sample or demonstration of the product that accompanies the original purchase.
Customer service, on the other hand, has the goal of solving problems for the customer in the short term.
By answering questions quickly as they arise, either during the path to purchase or after a purchase has been made, your customer service teams work to keep customers happy and avoid building any resentment between customers and your brand.
Different Skill Sets
Because the goals of customer success and customer service are so different, they require different teams and skill sets to manage.
Customer support is a highly strategic role that requires your team to understand the customer’s needs and their business or goals inside and out.
On the other hand, customer service uses team members that understand your own products and services.
That helps them quickly answer questions and concerns that come in from a large number of customers, rather than focusing on a few accounts and understanding their goals.
How Do They Work Together?
We’ve spent quite a bit of time going over the differences between customer success vs customer service.
Let’s pivot and take a look instead at how these two approaches work together in a customer experience strategy.
Guiding customers is a big part of digital marketing.
Rather than waiting for them to find your brand, products, or services, an inbound digital approach uses useful content and other strategies that pull customers in.
By guiding your customers rather than telling them, you can create a better experience.
Customer support guides your customers about their future purchases and potential problems, which works well with a customer service strategy of guiding your customers with quick answers to their questions and timely responses to any concerns they might have.
By using these together, you can guide your customers towards strong relationships and good experiences with your brand.
Helping Grow Relationships
Another important part of customer experience that requires both strategies is growing relationships.
Customer relationships are important to the success of your digital program, and having a well-rounded customer strategy ensures that no matter where your customers are on their journey, there are solutions available to them.
Having a long-term approach with customer success helping nurture a long-lasting and trustful relationship between your brand and your customers, while at the same time ensuring your customer service strategy avoids sudden breaks or hiccups in that relationship, is a great way to see both approaches work together.
Creating a great customer experience is key to digital marketing success.
After all, in order to continue bringing your customers back time and time again, you need to ensure that they enjoy working with your brand and have a positive time engaging with your team.
While it’s true that there are some similarities between customer success vs customer service, they are two different approaches that both deserve time and attention in your brand’s digital marketing strategy.
Once you have a strategy that uses both methods of customer interaction, you can improve the human experience on your site.
To learn more about the ways to create valuable connections between people and your brand, check out our blog on human experience!
We’ll discuss why it’s important to focus on a human experience and go over ways to apply this strategy in your business today.