Customer Success vs. Customer Support: WTF is the Difference?

Customer Experience is an overarching commitment within any company, and is the most critical investment to ensure any company’s future success. Customer Experience, however, is based and relies on a number of vital components, strategies, and activities that require working harmoniously in support of each other to achieve the ultimate goal of a successful customer experience.

Customer Support and Customer Success are two of the most vital strategies, components, and organizational systems that contribute to the overall Customer Experience. 

They sound similar, but they are significantly different. Their roles can be easily confused, so It is very important that everyone within the organization understands their difference.  

Here are the main differences between Customer Support and Customer Success:



Provides technical assistance with products offered, and troubleshooting. 
Provides guidance to customers when issues arise. 
Is always available to resolve concerns and issues, as they arise.

Is a strategy that helps keep ongoing positive relationships with the customers. Provides post-sale support.
Customer Success teams make sure that the products continue to work properly and that the customers are satisfied and know how to use them.



Is typically organized in a customer service department.

Key Tools utilized are:

contact center software
call management systems
customers self-service tools
field service and dispatch systems

Chatbots commonly used to help customers outside normal business hours.

Reactive: service is provided when a customer reaches out for help.


Customer Success Teams can be more fluid and are dedicated to support three key customer-centric outcomes:
Installation: ensuring that the product functions as expected.
Training: supporting users on how to utilize the product. Most critical with software products.
Accounts Management: maintaining a relationship with the customer post-sale. This outcome is very important in order to ensure that products work properly, to gather feedback for continuous improvement opportunities, and to drive contract extension and add-on services. 

Proactive: customers are sought out by the company so as to offer them resources to solve and prevent problems, avoiding need for reactive support.


Metrics: measure speed and quality of customer interactions.

Common measures are:
Net Promoter Scores: customer loyalty.
Customer Effort Scores: effort it takes to use product/service.
Customer Satisfaction Score: how likely the custom is to refer a peer to the company.

Roles, Skills, and Best Practices:are well established as part of a long existing field of practice. 

Transactional Mode: customer interactions only occur when the customer reaches out to the business for help.


Metrics: measure the downstream positive effect the business has on the customer

Common measure are:

Retention Rates
Repeat Purchases
Up-sell/Cross Sell Rates
Product Adoption & Mastery

Roles, Skill, and Best Practices:still in search of the right way to yield customer success for every business. Skills include customer service, subject matter expertise, and sales knowledge.
Relationship Mode: may also address a customer issue, but aims to provide an ongoing relationship with customers to ensure a continuous positive experience.

Customer Service and Customer Success need to work together!

Although different in their function, roles, and responsibilities as highlighted above, it is critical that Customer Service Teams and Customer Success Teams work together to provide the best Customer Experience. 

Both departments need to stay in close contact with each other in order to share customer data and to jointly make better, more informed decisions.

Clearly, if the customers frequently face the same issues which are shared with the customer support team, it is important for the customer success team to be fully aware of that issue in order to work with other departments to solve or ameliorate the problem.