Differences in customer support and customer success

Differences in customer support and customer success

Table of Contents

Customer support (or service) and customer success are often used interchangeably. While there are differences between the two, customer support and customer success should work hand in hand to provide the best experience to customers; companies lose about $62 billion a year because of a poor customer experience.

Let’s take a look at the differences between customer support and customer success.


The two have very slight purposes within a company. Customer support is often thought to be reactive, responding to problems that customers reach out about, resolving issues, and keeping customers happy.

On the other hand, success is more proactive. Success agents aim to understand and anticipate customer needs in order to increase customer satisfaction and decrease churn. Customer success teams proactively reach out to customers, initiating conversations first.

Another way to distinguish the two is simply from the names. Customer support provides support to customers ad hoc (whenever customers reach out for support). Success is dedicated to the success of customers, so they identify needs and reach out to customers. It’s for this reason that onboarding typically falls under the domain of customer success. During onboarding, customer success agents ensure customers are educated about everything they need to know to successfully use the product or service..

Success is responsible for:

Support is responsible for:

  • Deepening customer relationships to foster loyalty
  • Improving processes to enhance the customer experience
  • Preemptively anticipating customer needs (i.e. up-selling)
  • Monitoring customer health and engagement
  • Reducing churn
  • Billing inquiries
  • Technical problems
  • Resolving issues that customers call in about
  • Turning bad experiences into positive ones
  • Ensuring customer satisfaction
  • Reducing churn


Customer support interactions are initiated by the customer and are transactional, meaning they have a beginning and an end.

Interactions with customer teams don’t necessarily have an end date. It’s an ongoing relationship over time that continues as long as the user is a customer.  


Because customer support and support teams have different functions, they have different metrics to look at.

Customer support metrics typically measure the quality and speed of the resolution, whereas customer success metrics are more concerned with the long-term business goals so they look at things such as the lifestyle value of the customer. Success works to prevent customer churn and uses indicators like product usage to identify and reach out to customers who are in danger of churning.

Success metrics include:

Support metrics include:

  • Customer churn rate
  • Expansion revenue
  • Customer retention
  • Repeat purchase rate
  • Customer lifetime value
  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT surveys)
  • Net promoter scores (NPS surveys)
  • Average resolution time
  • First response times

The rise of customer success

This idea of customer success was really only born in the last few years. Part of the reason that there was this need for customer success came from the rise of software as a service (SaaS) companies which made customer satisfaction and loyalty more crucial than ever. Enter customer success.

B2B companies saw the value of customer teams as well. Companies across industries started to focus on nurturing existing customers and strengthening advocacy – this helped increase customer retention and loyalty over time.

Support and success need to be complementary

In many companies, customer success and support often work in silos. While customer success and support have different functions, the two teams should work in tandem in a company because at the end of the day, both teams ultimately have the same end goal: providing the best experience possible for their shared customers.

They need to work hand-in-hand to provide a cohesive experience to the customer because 70% of purchasing experiences are based on how the customer feels like they’re being treated. Customers don’t care whether they’re talking to someone from customer success or customer support; they’re only concerned with resolving their issue, getting the most value, and how seamless that interaction is.

Supportbench can help you deliver excellent customer support. Get in touch with us today!

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