What is customer support?
Customer support is the service of helping customers to use a product or service correctly, effectively, and efficiently. Typical customer support activities include planning, installation, training, maintenance, upgrading, and disposal of a product or service. Customer support is increasingly important for two reasons. First, products and services are increasingly complex which requires better explanations and more support in their usage. This finding is especially applicable in the tech industry. Second, more and more businesses are taking a customer-centric approach that necessitates exceptional customer support (e.g. Amazon).
The development of customer support in businesses
Back in the old days, customer support was provided by shops directly. Customers would ask questions about the products they purchased and got assistance in using them. The next stage of development in regard to customer support were call centers. Customers could now call businesses to ask questions of any kind regarding the use of a purchased product. Nowadays, customer support has been taken to the next level. Businesses have automated customer support activities, improved the interaction with customers, and have come up with creative ways to explain the complexity of their offerings in a playful way.
It also has to be noted that with the rise of the internet, forums and platforms pose a valuable research opportunity for customers. Therefore, customer support for easy questions can be obtained by running a simple Google search.
Customer support vs. customer service
Customer service and customer support are often mixed and confused. For many people, these are one and the same thing. Although this seems to be true, there are still subtle differences. Customer service is concerned with adding value and increasing customer satisfaction through communication with the customer. Therefore, customer service is focused on the development and accomplishment of strategic goals. In comparison, customer support is one of the elements of customer service, which aims to assist customers in making efficient and cost-effective use of a product or service. Customer support is especially relevant in companies that have a technological focus and where the product or service is complex.