The Difference Between Customer Service and Customer Success


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In the past year or so we’ve seen the word customer success used by a number of forward thinking companies. Is this just another fancy name for customer service? Maybe it’s an updated way of a company saying, “We’re here for you when you need us. We want you to be successful.” While those loose definitions sound great, the official meaning of the term, in today’s business environment, is quite different from what we think of as traditional customer service.

First, let’s go back to the basics. If you’ve been following me, you know that I believe customer service is not a department, but a philosophy to be embraced by everyone in an organization. It’s part of the culture of a company. But, in a more traditional sense, customer service is seen as a department. It’s where you connect with a company to get more information about a question or problem – whether that’s over the phone, on instant chat, social media, or any other channel.

Customer success should also be part of the culture. If a company is truly customer-focused, then the idea of customer success is ingrained in the culture. But, here is the big difference between the customer service department and the customer success department:

The traditional customer service department resolves problems and answers questions. They react to customer needs and requests. The customer success department, however, works with customers to ensure success and avoid problems before the customer even knows an issue might exist. In other words, the customer success department is proactive. Let me share with you some examples to make this crystal clear.

Our company uses a CRM solution known as InfusionSoft. This is a fairly robust program and requires a good amount of knowledge to use it to its full potential. There are excellent resources to help get a new user started, such as books, manuals and training videos on YouTube. But Infusionsoft takes the “onboarding” process to a higher level by assigning a coach to work with their clients. This helps to ensure a quick and successful start and eliminates many questions that a new client might have to just get started with the basics.

Another way to create customer success is with a self-service solution, a process that allows customers to effortlessly resolve issues on their own. For example, WalkMe is a platform that provides guided learning through interactive, on-screen tutorials. These tutorials appear as “balloons” directly on the site and feature step-by-step instructions to help walk users through any online task. It’s a proactive solution that helps eliminate support calls and creates customer success.

By monitoring your customers’ questions and complaints, you can start to see trends where one question leads to another. It works the same way with phone calls, or any communication you receive through other channels. When the customer connects to you with one of those types of questions or problems, work with them to eliminate the predictable follow up call. Even better, like InfusionSoft does in the example just mentioned, teach the customer how to eliminate the problem from ever happening at all.

Customer success builds confidence. The more success a customer has without having to contact support for questions or complaints, the more confident the customer will be with your company, your products and whatever services you offer.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Shep Hyken
Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. As a customer service speaker and expert, Shep works with companies who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. He is a hall of fame speaker (National Speakers Association) and a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author.


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