Customer Support and Customer Service: What’s the difference?

Does your business provide customer support or customer service? 

Prior to doing a little research, I freely interchanged the phrases “customer support” and “customer service.” I’ll confess: it’s not something that keeps me awake at night. While I found no official definitions (because I don’t consider Wikipedia official), does a good job of defining the two phrases. Take a look at how they distinguish between the two: 

Customer Support–Range of services provided to assist customers in making cost-effective and correct use of a product. It includes assistance in planning, installation, training, troubleshooting, maintenance, upgrading, and disposal of the product. 

Customer Service–All interactions between a customer and a product provider at the time of sale, and thereafter. Customer service adds value to a product and builds enduring relationships.

Hmmm. Based on those definitions, maybe I should have thought about these differences earlier on in my blog-writing career. But what do other sources say? I wanted more validation.


Searching for the answer

So I did some more searching—forums, blogs, and articles. There’s no shortage of opinions on the topic of the difference of support and service, but the consensus—based on the forums and articles I reviewed—is that people widely accept the above definitions. SSI Partners puts it this way in a blog: Support fixes things when they are wrong, but Service maximizes your customer’s productivity. 

Ok, that makes sense. 

The two are related, but not quite the same. Support is assisting customers and service is the added value that comes from excellent interactions with customers.


Tracker supports support

Based on the definitions I found, it’s clear to me that PhaseWare’s Tracker is a tool for customer support activities, such as opening and tracking issues, providing multiple channels of support, and providing a self-service portal. Tracker makes it easy for small-to-medium sized B2Bs to support their clients using a wide range of tools. The way that B2Bs use Tracker then becomes part of their overall customer service offering; it’s one of many important facets of the services they provide.  

So back to my original question: Does your business provide customer support or customer service? Hopefully the answer is both. Tracker can put you well on your way to satisfying customers through the assistance you provide them and–by delivering excellent support—through the extra value you bring.


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