Customer Success and Support aren’t the same thing

Brooke Goodbary
Sep 29, 2016 · 5 min read
Routing incoming messages to the appropriate team

Customer Success and Support teams should see each other as a valuable resource to perform their job more efficiently and to better aid their customers.

What is Customer Success?

Customer Success should be focused on proactively delivering value to customers. This starts by working with an account to determine their goals and objectives and mapping these goals back to your product. From there, a CSM should get buy in from the customer on strategies that will help them reach their desired outcome. The focus then shifts towards implementing these strategies through user onboarding and training. Few SaaS products exist in a silo and getting your product installed and integrated into a client’s existing processes and systems is key to long-term success. Training and materials can help ensure their team feels comfortable and empowered to use your product. Finally, CSMs own the customer’s ongoing success and happiness. This requires them to have a constant pulse on their customer base and to act as the voice of the customer internally. Being the customer’s advocate allows them to bring insights to ongoing analyses aimed at developing a deep and holistic understanding of the customer journey and in identifying key success measurements across the customer lifecycle.

What is Customer Support?

Customer Support is more often than not the everyday face of your company. They are standing by to handle inbound inquiries from your customers when they ask for help. Support is able to patiently troubleshoot an issue to a resolution while demonstrating empathy and attentiveness towards your customers. At a high level they remove barriers customers come up against that are preventing them from finding value in your product.

How do Customer Success and Support differ?

While both teams focus on building a userbase full of happy customers, Customer Success is concentrated on helping a customer be successful in a broader sense- not just in the course of a single conversation. Support focuses on finding a resolution to one specific question or concern at a time. As a result, CSRs are usually measured on metrics such as response time, conversation duration, and number of cases handled. The metrics Customer Success teams are measured on are more long-tail such as product adoption, account retention and upsells or expansion.

How can Customer Success and Support work together?

Customer Success and Support teams should see each other as a valuable resource to perform their job more efficiently and to better aid their customers. Support is often the first team a user speaks to, and it can be appropriate for them to pass a conversation off to a CSM when the topic is out of their core competency (see chart above for examples). Meanwhile, CSMs are likely running in and out of meetings throughout the day and are unable to be on standby to answer questions; this makes Support a great initial resource for those customers. Because the two teams often have shared experiences on issues like major bugs or common feature requests, they can also collaborate on messaging around these issues and lobby for shared resources.


SaaS Growth Strategies

Articles on Medium related to SaaS Growth Strategies. Welcoming submissions on SaaS growth strategies, user onboarding, customer success, user experience, product and SaaS marketing.

Brooke Goodbary

Written by

Customer Success consultant, writer, and expert www.brooke.land

SaaS Growth Strategies

Articles on Medium related to SaaS Growth Strategies. Welcoming submissions on SaaS growth strategies, user onboarding, customer success, user experience, product and SaaS marketing.