Hand Reaching Over Ocean

Customer Service or Customer Success — Is There a Difference?

Yes, there is. To be successful, you need to incorporate both into your business strategy. Believe it or not, this is not a game of semantics or a trick question. Of course, each business owner wants to serve their customer to the best of their ability. If your business is a B2B (business to business) enterprise, the difference is worth noting.

Think about the following:

Customer Service vs Customer Success Graphic

The difference is a “happy customer” or a happier customer who benefits financially from doing business with you.

Your business growth depends on your customers’ growth. “Customer Success is a growth driver. It is not glorified support.” Customer Success is a decision to understand your clients’ business and help them achieve their goals. “What you talkin’ bout Willis?” Well, I don’t know about you, but I learn from examples. Let’s look at two.

Company No. 1: Customer Service

The entrepreneur (Vivian) contracted a vendor (Web Pages Galore) to create an essential element for their business. Through a series of interviews, Web Pages Galore and the Vivian believed enough information was gathered to complete the job. Next steps were agreed upon. A to-do list was created assigning various tasks to each of us. The vendor was paid in full.

Seven days the finished product was delivered. It was not what Vivian ordered. It was obvious to Vivian, Web Pages Galore had no idea what she did nor which segment of the population represented her target market. The product was a template-based product with Vivian’s company name “plastered” on it. It was a good web page. It would meet anyone’s basic standards for this type of product. As far as Web Pages Galore was concerned they fulfilled their end of the contract. But it was not special or unique. It was not Vivian.

Vivian hired another company to complete the tasks left undone. But since she had a one year contract with Web Pages Galore, she had to work with them. Tweaks were made. Vivian was “OK” with the finished product.

Over the course of a year, Vivian made numerous calls to customer service. Each of the Web Pages Galore’s representatives was very pleasant and knowledgeable. Every issue was resolved. A number of email messages and phone calls were made by the vendor’s organization suggesting additional products or contract renewal.

Vivian’s answer was a resounding NO. The vendor provided excellent customer service. But did not use the information they had about her business to help her increase her bottom line. Vivian shared her goals and target market. It did not seem to make a difference. She felt like a number. The contract was not renewed. Vivian’s business would not be a part of their growth because they were not interested in hers.

Company No. 2: Customer Success

Again, Vivian answered a boatload of questions, provided examples and responded to every request regarding her business needs, mission, vision and core values. The same information she provided shared with the previous company. While she also made a down payment; she was adamant they do things “her” way.

Company No.2 missed the mark in a few areas. They were happy to make the requested changes. Vivian was happy. But the vendor, (Get Customers.com) was not. The vendor believed that what Vivian wanted, overall conflicted a bit with her core values. Vivian couldn’t see it. So, they set up a test (at no additional cost), and allowed a few people from her target market to review both approaches.

Get Customers.com was right. Vivian went “live” with their approach. She also gained 100 new paying clients and a return on her investment.

The customer service received from Company No. 2 was excellent. Vivian received frequent sales calls; she did not buy everything, she did make a few upgrades as well as renewing her contract. Why? Simple ROI. Vivian’s company grew, so her company helped Get Customers.com grow. Vivian says not only is she is a lifelong customer, but she is also recommending them to all of her business associates. She trusted Get Customers.com and agreed to create an online commercial for the business.

How do you ensure customer success?

  • Take the dollar signs out of your eyes!
  • Provide excellent customer service. This should be a given.
  • STEP IT UP A NOTCH! Know your customers’ business and identify how you can help them succeed.

Long story short. You need customer service and a plan for customer success. REMEMBER: When your customers know you care, your organization benefits too.

[1] http://sixteenventures.com/customer-success-definition

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