Customer Success vs Customer Service: Why SaaS Businesses Need Both?

customer success dial with different dial settings

As the SaaS market is becoming more and more competitive, with 99% of organizations using one or more SaaS solutions, it’s important to make sure that your customers are satisfied with your products and services.

One of the main reasons why customers choose a SaaS solution is scalability. This doesn’t mean that you should ignore the service and support you offer your customers. In this article, we are going to focus on two of the most important teams in a SaaS business: customer success and customer service.

Most of the times people confuse these two terms. While both of these departments are responsible for building and maintaining strong customer relationships, each of them fills different functions within the company.

What is Customer Service?

Customer service is a key component of any business. No matter what product or service you are putting out on the market, you need to make sure that your customers receive the support they need.

Customer service is the support you provide for your customers before, during, and after the purchase of your product or service. If a customer is experiencing any troubles, your customer service department needs to take the necessary steps to help the customer in a timely manner.

What is Customer Success?

When it comes to customer success, things are a bit different. Customer success focuses on supporting customers and finding strategies to help their businesses succeed. While customer service is necessary for both B2C and B2B, customer success is a department designed for B2B businesses.

Customer success reps need to gather data and keep an eye on the customer health score to make sure that their customers are having a great experience and are using the SaaS solution to the fullest extent. Customer success is proactive and solves the issue of a client even before they experience it.

3 differences between CS and CS

1.   Approach: Reactive vs proactive

One of the most important differences between customer success and customer service is the approach. While customer service is reactive, customer success is proactive. What does that mean? When a customer encounters a problem and reaches out, the customer service department takes care of the issue and helps the customer.

However, the customer success department needs to always track the KPIs of their customers and offer support without the customer reaching out. The CSMs are the ones reaching out and finding ways to help customers succeed.

2.   Type of interactions: Relationship-oriented vs transactional

Customer support and customer service interactions are mostly transactional. A customer reaches out with a problem and customer service professionals help them directly or contact technical support to fix the issue. After that, there is no interaction between the customer and your customer service employee, unless the customer reaches again with a different issue.

Customer success managers have a relationship-oriented approach. They build and maintain a close relationship with customers and always find new strategies to help the customer’s business grow and succeed.

3.   Monitoring and progress: KPIs and metrics

Another big difference between customer success and customer service is how their activity and progress are monitored. The most important KPIs for customer service include the first response time and the customer satisfaction rate. Also, when measuring these KPIs events before or after the interaction are not taken into account. If the problem is solved rapidly and the customer is happy, then the customer service rep has done their job.

Customer success reps focus on achieving different things. They reach out to the customers in an attempt to avoid churn, increase retention rate, and increase upsell and cross-sell rates. Also, the customer success efforts are continuous and they don’t stop after the initial interaction. CSMs always keep an eye on the customer and their progress.

Why do you need both customer service and customer success?

Both customer service and customer success play an important role in the success of your business. When these teams work together and are aligned, they can provide a great customer experience which will impact the retention rate of your customers.

In the competitive SaaS market, it’s essential to offer and great customer experience and to support clients each step of the way. By creating and improving both customer support and customer success you will gain a competitive advantage.


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