Customer Support vs Customer Success

Emilie Johnston

These days there's a lot of talk about customer happiness and success.

But traditional customer support has been around a long time - and old habits die hard.

Even if you think your company has a customer success philosophy, you might be further behind the eightball than you realize.

Here are the key differentiators separating the new and improved customer success philosophy from the dated customer support practices of the past.

A Real Life Comparison

The best current example of customer support vs. customer success is the difference between Amazon and Comcast. One is the world’s biggest online retailer on a path of unstoppable disruption and the other still has a entire reddit, Twitter AND Facebook page dedicated to how much it sucks.

One always knows what its customers need, has killer customer success tools, and the other spent years kicking back on the fact that it was the only option in town. Now they're in the unenviable position of rebranding - and even struggling to stay in the game.

Customer Success = Always Growing

Companies with the mission of achieving customer success are extremely proactive. They keep an ear to the ground and always know exactly what their customers love - and don't love - about their products and services. Here's how:

1 - They don't just want customers, they want advocates

Companies with a customer success mindset know relevancy is everything. They don't expect their customers to come to them - instead they go where their customers are. While researching for his book, Hug Your Haters customer service maestro Jay Baer did a ton of research - he found that answering a social media complaint increases customer advocacy by up to 25%.

2 - They make their customer their mission

It's predicted that by 2020 customer experience will be the #1 brand differentiator, more important than price and product.

Customer success acknowledges your customers are your best ally in outpacing the competition and dominating your market. Business with this mindset get everybody - from the janitor to the President - to live the customer-first mantra.

3 - They use their customer insights

The best and brightest companies want to know not only what went wrong, but what went right, and everything their customer was thinking in between. They survey their customers  like crazy to stay on top of every detail, take the guesswork and costly misadventures out of the growth process by letting their customers help them build better products, send better marketing messages and find new opportunities to drive profit.

Business strategist and creator of the net promoter score (NPS), Frederick Reichheld found that increasing customer retention rates by just 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. The rumors are true - it’s more cost-effective to retain customers than it is to constantly focus (and spend) on selling new customers.

4 - Customer Support = Cool with Coasting

While the customer success guys are out there gunning toward those big picture results, the customer support guys are focused solving one issue after another. If you don't look up, you can't get to the root cause of the issue and start resolving costly bottlenecks.

5 - They take it one ticket at a time

A company with a 'customer support' mindset keeps customers "satisfied" - but not engaged. They rely on customer service software when they should be thinking of customer success software.  Their customers are far from ambassadors for their brands, and with so many options around can be easily persuaded to switch to the next guy.

6 - They see customer support as a cost-minimizer

When it's actually THE most crucial revenue-generator. They don't have a consistent, scalable system for funneling customer feedback back into their organization, and they let that valuable data go right out the door - with the customer soon to follow.

7 - They usually have some major internal silos

It takes major agility to deliver on fast-changing customer demands. Companies with outdated and sluggish workflows, complex red tape, and tons of policies, just can’t (and don’t) keep up. The result? Frustrated customers that leave the company for the first Facebook ad and promo code on their newsfeed.  In fact, businesses who operate from a “customer support” mindset are ripe for disruption and setting themselves up to be overthrown.

Bottom line: if you’re customers don’t know you, aren’t engaged, and feel like your company is never two-steps ahead, your business is in danger. Businesses have to anticipate what the customer wants next, what they like, and plan their products & services around that.

Want to help your customer success team handle every customer need or want, before they even know they want it? Check out CloudApp to start ramping up customer success and engagement through smarter communication for free.

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