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This article explores the nuances of B2B customer success and customer support, dissecting their differences in approach, goals, ongoing engagement, metrics, and integration into the customer lifecycle while highlighting their commonalities and synergies.

We've all heard it before, 'the customer is king.' In the realm of B2B, this reign is upheld by two pillars: customer success and customer support.

While both are vital, they operate on different planes, each with unique strategies, goals, and impacts on the customer journey.

Section

Description

Anticipating needs vs. solving problems

Comparison of the proactive nature of B2B customer success, focused on anticipating customer needs, with the reactive approach of customer support, aimed at addressing immediate issues.

Building bridges vs. fixing gaps

Exploration of the goals and strategies of both B2B customer success and customer support, emphasizing long-term relationship-building for success and immediate issue resolution for support.

Continuous partnership vs. quick fixes

Discussion of the continuous engagement model of B2B customer success, contrasted with the transactional interaction of customer support, highlighting the depth of relationships in success.

Measuring success

Explanation of the metrics used by each team, including Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), Net Promoter Score (NPS), and others, to measure long-term satisfaction and efficiency.

Journey companions vs. post-sale heroes

Comparison of the scope of customer success, which spans the entire customer lifecycle, with the post-sale focus of customer support on issue resolution.

Shared vision, different paths

Recognition of the shared focus on the customer base and the importance of customer data and CRM systems for both teams, promoting communication and a unified approach.

Anticipating needs vs. solving problems: a dual approach

B2B customer success takes a proactive stance in its approach. It involves strategic planning and anticipating customer needs at various points in their lifecycle. 

Customer success teams strategize what information, resources, or support their customers might need and provide it seamlessly. 

It's like a well-thought-out gym membership. When you sign up, the gym doesn't just wait for you to raise concerns; instead, they proactively engage. 

After your initial session, they might email you, inquiring about your experience. Weeks later, tailored advice, like nutrition plans or strength-building exercises, arrives in your inbox.

The goal is to assist customers in achieving their objectives and maximizing the benefits of the service or product. You can do this through personalized emails, regular check-ins, and providing resources.

Building relationships is key in customer success. It goes beyond addressing immediate issues; it's about fostering long-term partnerships. 

By focusing on customer satisfaction, success teams establish trust, enhancing the customer experience and loyalty.

Contrast this with B2B customer support, which operates on a reactive paradigm. 

Picture a support team poised, waiting to pounce on the next issue or ticket raised by a customer. This team is the troubleshooter, the one customers turn to when immediate problems arise. They respond swiftly, addressing concerns and resolving issues, a reactive dance dictated by customer needs in the moment.

Customer success is the helpful guide for customers, while customer support quickly solves problems to ensure immediate resolution.

Building bridges vs. fixing gaps: differing goals

Customer success aims to assist customers in achieving their goals and getting the most out of the service or product. 

Let’s go back to the example of a gym membership. If you miss sessions, they might send emails and maybe offer special classes to help you reach your fitness goals.

On the flip side, consider this example. My sister recently sent me flowers from Wild and Bloom, a UK-based flower company, for my birthday. The plant looked beautiful, but the hanging basket it came in had frayed. I emailed them and customer support quickly stepped in, sent a replacement, and ensured they rectified the issue.

Handling my problem the way that they did is a testament to why I’m a repeat customer.

Still, their focus is immediate – to solve the problem in real-time and ensure I’m content. While this transactional interaction is crucial, it's limited to addressing the present issue, lacking the long-term relationship-building focus of customer success.

Continuous partnership vs. quick fixes: levels of engagement

One of the distinctive features of B2B customer success lies in its ongoing engagement model. Success teams maintain continuous communication with clients throughout their lifecycle. 

It's like a caring relationship; the team understands the client's changing needs and goals and adjusts the service or product accordingly. 

This ongoing interaction creates loyalty, makes sure the client is happy, and supports the brand.

Consider a software company that provides regular updates and additional features based on the evolving needs of its clients. Customer success teams are strategic partners, helping clients maximize software capabilities and grow their businesses.

In contrast, customer support operates on a transactional level. It’s like a customer service help desk

When an issue arises, customer service teams raise a ticket and efficiently resolve it. This interaction is necessary, efficient, and swift, but it lacks the depth of relationship found in customer success engagements. 

The support team’s focus is immediate: acknowledging the problem, providing a solution, and closing the ticket. 

While this transactional approach is essential for problem-solving, it doesn’t nurture a long-term relationship in the same way that the ongoing engagement of customer success does.

Measuring success: how both teams track progress

Customer success relies on metrics such as response time, resolution time, Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), and Net Promoter Score (NPS). 

Customer success metrics are indicators of the long-term satisfaction and loyalty of customers. 

  • Net promoter score (NPS): Measures the likelihood of customers recommending your product or service to others. A high NPS indicates satisfied customers who see value in your offerings.
  • Customer health score: This is a comprehensive metric that takes into account product usage, customer feedback, and overall engagement. A robust health score signifies a well-engaged customer who's deriving value from your service.
  • Customer lifetime value (CLV): An estimation of the total revenue a business can expect from a single customer account. It gives insights into the long-term value and profitability of a customer.

By focusing on these metrics, customer success teams ensure that customers not only stay but also thrive and advocate for the company.

On the other side, customer support teams measure success through metrics like response time, resolution time, CSAT, and ticket volumes. While these metrics are similar, they carry a different weight in the context of support. 

For customer support, the focus is primarily on the efficiency and effectiveness of the support process:

  • First response time: The time it takes for a customer to receive the initial response after reporting an issue.
  • Ticket volume: The number of support requests or issues raised by customers within a given timeframe. A sudden increase might indicate larger product or service issues.
  • Resolution time: How long it takes to resolve a customer's issue from the time it's reported. Shorter resolution times often equate to happier customers.

Journey companions vs. post-sale heroes: roles in the customer lifecycle

Customer success teams span the entire customer lifecycle, from presale interactions to post-sale engagements. They are present during the customer’s journey, ensuring a consistent and exceptional experience. 

Customer success teams are important for keeping customers happy and helping them grow by understanding their needs and challenges. 

They assist customers in maximizing the benefits of the product or service. This leads to the development of long-lasting relationships and an increase in customer value over time.

Customer Lifecycle Stages

Image Source: Tivoli Partners

In contrast, customer support primarily operates during the post-sale phase. Its focus is on resolving issues that arise after the purchase. 

While these interactions are critical for immediate customer satisfaction, they do not encompass the entire customer journey. Support teams excel at solving problems, ensuring customers are happy with their immediate interactions. 

However, they lack the long-term engagement found in the broader scope of customer success initiatives.

Shared vision, different paths: similarities between customer success and support

Both customer success and customer support teams share a fundamental focus – an organization's customer base. Regardless of their different approaches, both teams are customer-facing entities. 

They have the unique opportunity to gather invaluable data and feedback directly from customers. 

Success teams collect feedback through various methods such as conversations and NPS surveys, a process we at Huble do quarterly with our customers. On the other hand, support teams receive feedback immediately after each interaction. This feedback loop, in both cases, is vital for product or service improvement.

Additionally, the effective utilization of customer data is crucial for both teams. B2B companies can improve customer experience by understanding their needs and preferences and creating personalised offerings. 

Shared CRM systems enable both teams to access customer data, giving them a single customer view. This promotes smooth communication and a complete understanding of customer needs. It also allows for a unified approach.

How Huble can help you optimise your B2B customer success strategies

While B2B customer success and customer support have different goals and follow different strategies, they are two sides of the same coin – customer satisfaction. 

Understanding the differences of these approaches allows B2B companies to leverage them to the fullest and combining them allows you to create a customer-centric system that helps turn your customers into loyal brand advocates. 

Are you looking to enhance your B2B customer success strategies? At Huble, we offer expert customer experience consulting services tailored to optimize your business’s customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

Speak with our team today to discover how we can transform your customer interactions.

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