Customer Support vs Customer Success

eComm Boardroom Customer Support vs. Customer Success

Welcome to Customer Support vs Customer Success. In this post, I discuss the primary strategies for each of these incredibly important components to eCommerce brand development.

Customer Support

Not too long ago, my wife, a nurse, ordered new scrubs. Due to the pandemic, she waited for weeks for them to be delivered. Weeks. In the age of Amazon Prime Next Day Shipping, that’s an eternity. 

Eventually, they arrived. “Finally!” Excitedly, she tore open the package with a wide smile. These weren’t ordinary scrubs, they were Figs, you see. (Don’t worry, I didn’t know what they were either. Medical professionals rave about them.)

But, as she ruffled through the plastic covering, her countenance fell. Was that dismay on her face? 

“They’re the wrong color!” She exclaimed angrily. 

With pained anxiety, I realized what we had to do. 

We needed to call Customer Support. 

Immediately, I was flooded with memories. I remembered hunting through the deep recesses of numerous websites, trying desperately to find a customer service number. I recalled countless episodes of speaking or instant messaging with robots, desiring only to speak with a human. And I called to mind the trauma of hours of repetitive, tedious music that’s only used when on hold (AHHH!!!).  

Do the words “Customer Support” evoke a similar mental image for you?

It Don’t Have to Be Like That…

Customer Support is an important part of your eCommerce business. That’s why you need to have a plan.

Invariably, a percentage of your customers will experience issues. Items will get delayed or lost in the mail. Things break. Expectations go unmet. We’ve all experienced this as buyers. 

As a seller, you must establish a policy for shipping, returns, and refunds. Create a plan for handling customer complaints. Will you dole out refunds like they’re candy? Amazon does this, and they have some of the most satisfied repeat customers in the world…

Of course, you might not want to get on Amazon’s level when it comes to customer support. But, there is a lesson to be learned here:

Making sure your existing customers are happy will encourage them to make additional purchases and tell their friends and family about their experience. 

That’s why I recommend you adopt a customer support policy centered around the happiness level of every customer. Make an effort to surprise your customer with unexpected kindness. It will go a long way in driving word of mouth growth. As a result, customer support can become a marketing tactic for your business.

How to Outsource Customer Support

Most eCommerce entrepreneurs have no desire to handle customer support themselves. They got into eCommerce so they could run a hands-off business, for goodness sake!

And I do recommend that you outsource your customer support. There are tons of viable customer service outsourcing companies to choose from.

However, I suggest that you handle customer service yourself when you’re getting started. Take notes on the most frequent issues, questions asked, and resolutions. Create an FAQ guide. The benefits are twofold:

  1. You can speed up your customer support process (more copy/paste; less time drafting emails).
  2. You can identify systemic problems in your business that need solving.

Once you learn the most frequent issues, you can pass the FAQ document on to your customer service outsourcing agency. That’s a great way to position them for success!

Customer Success

Customer support is well understood. All companies do it by necessity. Something that most business owners ignore, however, is Customer Success. 

What is Customer Success?

Where Customer Support is reacting to an inquiry made by a customer, Customer Success is proactive. Here’s a definition of Customer Success:

Customer Success is the process of ensuring that a customer achieves their desired outcome from using your product or service.

Customer Success is a post-purchase activity, but it involves intentionally designing processes and materials before a customer makes a purchase. Then, once an order is placed, you put them into practice.

These processes and materials should all serve to boost your customer’s perception of the value of your goods or services.

Customer Success is a popular concept in the world of Software as a Service (SaaS) businesses. However, it should be taken seriously by all eCommerce entrepreneurs.

Popular tactics for customer success include:

  • Personalized outreach to understand each customer’s goals.
  • Providing “How-To-Use” instructions, FAQs, and Common Issue reports to customers as soon as they make a purchase.
  • Creating Customer Loyalty Programs (including the use of rewards points, prizes, and discounts).
  • Providing free product upgrades (if applicable).
  • Including free bonuses with a purchase (for example eBooks, helpful tools, branded materials).

Each of these keep your brand on the customer’s mind. They cause them to say to themselves, “Wow, this company really cares about me!”

Benefits of Customer Success

Hopefully the benefits of this concept are clear. A robust Customer Success strategy will:

  • Increase your repurchase rate (repeat customers)
  • Boost referrals (word-of-mouth marketing)
  • Garner positive reviews
  • Encourage up-sells & cross-sells
  • Create case studies / testimonials that can be used to acquire new customers

Do you see why becoming invested in your customer’s success is so important? Brainstorm ways that you can ensure your customer achieves their goals from using your product or service.

The result? Increased brand loyalty and increased sales.

Wrap It Up, Chuck

Thanks for reading Customer Support vs Customer success. Hopefully you see that after a customer has made a purchase, the fun begins. 

The post-purchase activities of Customer Support and Customer Success will transform your startup eCommerce business into a successful business enterprise.

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