Customer Success and Customer Support are linked but different disciplines — and they require different mindsets and playbooks to win. And they sure do have different definitions.
Customer support aims at providing customers with what they require. Customers have a query, the support team answers it, a ticket is raised, and the support team makes sure that it is resolved within 48 hours.
On the other hand, customer success ensures that the goals of customers are fulfilled from the very start of the customer journey to the end. While the customer support function ends after a certain duration of time, customer success is an ongoing process that remains as long as the customer remains a customer.
Metrics used to measure Customer Success and Customer Support
The metrics used to measure the success of each is also different.
Customer support uses metrics like SLA (Service-Level Agreement), CES (Customer Effort Score), NPS (Net Promoter Score), and CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) and it focuses on the support interaction itself. Customer success is about measuring the broader business impact like customer retention, repeat purchase rate, customer lifetime value, or similar long-term business metrics.
In terms of hiring, the job of customer support is more clearly defined. Customer success, on the other hand, is a more diverse field, and the required skills range from customer service, to subject matter expertise and sales.
In terms of RoI, customer support in itself acts like a cost centre and the expenses are necessary. Customer success, however, is a new concept and the C-suite is still struggling to map business outcomes to the customer success function with respect to metrics like increased customer churn, decreased customer lifetime value, and potentially decreased revenue.
Unlike customer support, which is a distinct centre in itself, customer success teams often are grouped with sales. However, to get maximum results, companies need to group them with other customer experience-centric teams in the long run.
Customer Support Metrics vs Customer Success Metrics
Customer Support metrics are generally related to speed and quality of service. A few examples are average response time, average wait time, and average turn-around time of resolving a ticket. Customer Effort Score (CES) is such a parameter that informs companies about the quality of support in terms of how much effort it took for customers to get their issues resolved. As the organization grows, the measurement can be in terms of more advanced metrics like Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), Net Promoter Score® (NPS), support agent satisfaction, and the like.
Customer success, on the other hand, is measured in terms of value delivered to the customer in the long run. In the SaaS industry, this is most commonly quantified as customer retention.
The measurement varies depending on businesses. Businesses with a recurring revenue component will often choose to measure customer retention in terms of “net revenue.” It’s about how the revenue was added – did you renew the customer, and what else did the customer buy from you? Other businesses might keep things even simpler: “You started the year with X customers, and you ended the year with Y customers.”
However, these functions often overlap – and there in come the alliances.
If you notice, the ‘how-to’ appears on both the lists. This is a kind of a grey area where both the business centres might face the same questions or try solving the same problems. This is certainly a positive thing because, then, both the centres will work to create a common knowledge base, ultimately helping in troubleshooting the real issues.
When we talk about ‘customer experience,’ it encapsulates solutions to anything that makes a customer’s life more difficult. For example, an undelivered order or a misprinted invoice is likely to ruin the perception that the customer is likely to build about your company.
This is not to say that a customer can’t, or won’t, call Customer Support for any of these issues. In fact, this is one of the cases where these two functions can overlap. However, a fully functioning Customer Success team will handle these kinds of issues with more efficiency. Besides this, this business function is usually measured and incentivised on renewals and retention. Therefore, it will be empowered to influence other organizations, including support, in a positive way to better serve your customers.
Once the definition of each organization is clear, the alignment becomes very easy where both the parties are involved in the functioning of the other and often share cases with each other on issues faced. Your success lies in doing these handoffs without causing any jerks in the overall customer experience. There is no substitute for good communication but this is where a true 360 view of your customer will bring huge value.