Customer Success | 5 MIN READ

Customer Success vs. Customer Service. What is the Difference?

Customer Success vs. Customer Service: What are their definitions and how they differ? Get your answers straight with this blog and know the difference.

Simran Mohanty
Simran Mohanty
May 12, 2020


Quite an interesting topic! Before starting the difference between customer success vs. customer service, you might be wondering the definitions of these two terms would be as simple, right? Well, in a way it is, and in a way it is not as well.

Now, starting with the definition aspect, let’s begin with Customer Success.

It is a proactive approach which constitutes of developing and building relationships with customers. 

Customer loyalty and customer retention is all that matters. It strives to help customers meet and surpass their given goals and facilitate the necessary implementation of products and services.

More or less, it is basically about the trust that your customers get to achieve their expected results through the interactions with your platform. This includes a broader scape including onboarding, training, and maximizing facets that provide the highest Return of Investment (ROI). This is how you help your customers reach their targets in the given timeframe.

As Tom Krackeler rightly quotes it,

‘Taking a hands off approach when your customers are trying to figure out how to use your application […] that’s a lost opportunity, one that leads to customer churn down the road.’

Customer Success vs customer service

Coming to the Customer Service, this is a rather a broader segment focusing on the customer support. Simply put, customer service helps to overcome an issue, which the customer was facing previously. 

Or it may include finding better ways to deal with the trouble. With a firm belief that customer is superior and is always right, the facet tends to do everything which is in favour of the customers.

As Herve Humler puts it,

“I believe in the power of recognition and empowerment leading to great employee engagement. And employee engagement is critical to guest engagement. Employee empowerment and recognition are the core of our culture and how we achieve outstanding customer service.”

Now let us look at what ways customer success vs. customer service differ from each other, even though both of them play their respective vital roles in a company.

Orientations – Transaction and Relationship

While customer success is more seamless and does not really have an endpoint. It is rather non-conventional, evolving, and continually works on the existing relationships to gel with the customers. 

On the other hand, customer service is rather transactional in nature. They begin when a customer seeks assistance regarding anything particular and end with a solution given to them. They basically have a starting and an endpoint which was not the case in customer success.

Recruitment Aspect

When it comes to the zone of recruitment, the field of customer success is roughly a decade or so old. Given its new entry to the surface of business world, we do not have the exact depth and dimensions to provide us with a defined look on the best way to hire and implement initiatives of customer success.

Whereas, customer service as a field has a massive experience of over two decades or so. Therefore, the best practices with respect to the job of hiring are well-established.

From the Time frame Perspective

Customer success looks at the whole process and lifecycle with a hope to quantify and resolve issues as much as possible. They curb out common bottlenecks that usually prevent customers from bagging their desired targets.

However, the customer service organizations stick to their view to instant usage, technical or personal issues to resolve as soon as possible and prevent follow-ups.

Return on Investment or ROI

Customer service is deemed as a standard cost which is much needed for normal business operations. When the customer service team does not function properly, it will see a stiff decline in some of the areas such as retention rate, referrals and customer ratings etc.

Whereas the customer success is measured by the product adoption and usage into customers’ daily business activities. It is also calculated by the increase in retention rates, upgrades, and cross sales as well.

Which wins – Value or Satisfaction

The team of customer success aims to maximize value to the company by helping customer achieve their respective target with the software as a service (SaaS) platform. Their performance is mainly based on customer outcomes. 

On the other hand, the customer service strives towards satisfaction, which is their sole baseline. Satisfying a customer is their prime motive to achieve. 

The Segment of Initiatives

One can say that customer success needs to have a cross team collaboration which is again fully integrated so that it looks at the customer from a holistic point. 

Aside from this, too much contradiction, customer service can provide information on how to cut down on the organization’s costs on support and staff. Further, it rarely involves any contact with the other departments in any given company or organization.

Final Take

In spite of the aforementioned difference between customer success vs. customer service, both these terms are critically important to run a valuable business. Both these teams when work together help to grow, improve and retain customer relations in a company. In turn, this translates into an enhanced success and revenue generation of the company.

Having said that, both the separate departments have their respective mission and goals, and both of them should have the independency to work separately yet together in harmony. Irony, isn’t it?

By keeping both the teams on the same page and in loop of each other’s prerogatives, you can actually get better leverage and outcomes from it. This gives rise to a greater impact on your subscriber base as well.

To have a clearer picture of the same, you can delve into this page. With this, you will be all clear about the definitions, roles, and differences too.

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Originally Published May 12th, 2020, Updated December 30th, 2020

Simran Mohanty

Simran Mohanty

Simran hails from the content marketing backdrop with extensive knowledge in blogs, articles, and technical whitepapers in the non-fictional domain. She uses her 'gift of the gab' to explore new possibilities on her way and to make an exquisite impact on her readers. In her spare time, she likes to read journals on artificial intelligence or play with her cute kittens. You can connect with her on LinkedIn here.

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