Although "customer service" and "customer support" are often used interchangeably, the two terms are definitely different. The primary goal of both customer service and customer support staff is to make customers happy and their lives easier by providing them with helpful information and solutions to their problems. However, each position requires a distinct set of skills and experience.
At most companies, customer service refers to a worker's ability to provide accurate information about a specific product or service, handle customer complaints, treat customers kindly and make referrals to individuals who can help them solve in-depth problems. A person doesn't have to have a "customer service representative" job title to provide these types of services. Customers generally expect any employee they call or approach to assist them with whatever they need, regardless of the employee's position within the company.
All workers have the ability to provide great service to customers. For example, a stock clerk can help a wandering customer find a specific item. Likewise, a cashier can greet customers with a smile and ask them if they found everything they needed. Most companies also have a small or large team of agents working through call centers. These agents are typically trained to address specific problems and have the ability to place orders, provide refunds or store credits, and offer discounts and other incentives to loyal customers.
Customer service representatives can do a lot to make customers happy. However, they are limited when it comes to the level of support they can provide, which is why the two terms should not be used interchangeably. Customer support representatives are professionals who are trained to assist customers with very specific, usually technical, problems with a product or service. For example, if your brand new computer's operating system won't load or your internet suddenly stops working, you need technical support, which is not something most general employees or customer service agents have the knowledge or skills to provide.
Customer support representatives often help customers by troubleshooting the problem along with the customer in an attempt to diagnose the issue and provide a solution. They might take the customer through a series of steps and have the customer relay information to them throughout the process. Customer support professionals can also provide insight into various products. Support agents work in virtually all industries to provide guidance to customers who want to know how to use a certain product or make it perform a specific action.
Customer service agents and customer support representatives often work together to accomplish the same goal, which is to meet the needs of customers and ultimately encourage them to buy from the company again. Both roles are very important in any organization, as properly trained service and support personnel are essential for business success.
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