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  • Writer's pictureMarc Chia

4 Differences Between Customer Success & Customer Support

Guide to SaaS Customer Success

Key Differences between Customer Success and Customer support

In the digital world, SaaS companies offering B2B products often use the terms, Customer Success or Customer Support interchangeably. However, these are distinct and to properly leverage them for business growth we need to understand how they can separately help deliver value for clients.

What is Customer Success?

The concept of Customer Success entails a focus on aiding customers to acquire the desired outcomes they expect (i.e. success). When a SaaS company launches a product, the goal of delivering a valuable end-product translates to a customer success methodology. However, how well this focus is expressed and structured will define the benefits obtainable from Customer Success.

Customer Success processes cut across various functions including sales processes, proactive client management and product development. These may express themselves in terms of special emails for customers, special documentation entailing client needs, identifying the customer’s metrics of success as well as understanding and minimizing churn risk.

In some firms, Customer Success may be set up as a specific business function to focus on client needs. Customer Success process must be fully-merged and aligned with essential business functions like Product Development, Operations, Marketing and the design of revenue structure to form a competitive business structure.

Importance of Customer Success in SaaS Companies

In the competitive SaaS marketplace, Customer Success is a strategy for building sustainable competitive advantage. It does this by promoting a systematic focus on promoting improvements and enhancing customer satisfaction through a focus on delivering the customer’s own desired outcomes for success.

Enhancing customer satisfaction forms a foundation for improving the opportunity for referrals, up-selling and improving the Client’s Life-time Value (CLV) for the SaaS organization.

Through customer success, SaaS organization can attain the following benefits:

  • Expand Initial Sales

  • Extend Product Functionality & Value

  • Gain User Feedback

  • Gain Product Champions

  • Improve Upsells & Cross-Sells

  • Reduce Churns For Fast Recurring Revenue Growth

  • Increase Customer Lifetime Value

  • Convert Freemium Users Into Paying Clients

  • Improve Success Rate of Outreach

Differences between Customer Success Vs Customer Support

Customer Support is defined as a business function that entails responding to inquiries for assistance and demands. In its most basic form, Customer Success responds to the customer’s inquiries without needing to think about the overarching goals of the customer.

Typically, Customer Support concentrates on assisting with issues encountered when utilizing the services. They respond to the immediate problem at hand and aim to deliver immediate satisfaction by solving it. Customer Success meanwhile seeks to engage with customers to achieve desired outcomes in the long run.

1: Reactive VS Proactive-Customer’s Goals

Customer Support is all about the realization of customers' immediate needs. It takes a short term perspective in maintaining customer satisfaction and product usability.

Customer Success focuses on proactive engagement and the joint attainment of desired outcomes with customers for long term customer satisfaction and growth.

2: Business-Oriented Association VS Transactional Aspects

Customer Support is transactional in nature entailing a defined start point with each inquiry and an end point when the matter is resolved. In technical terms this is sometimes expressed as opening a ticket and closing a ticket.

Customer Success doesn’t have a “end point” but entails an ongoing business-oriented association with the clients and seeks to build strong bonds between the SaaS company and its customers.

3: Metrics of Measurement in Customer Support & Customer Success

Customer Support metrics focus on the excellence in interaction with the customer and the amount of time they take to solve the issues. Various metrics have been specified to measure such processes such as Customer Satisfaction Score (CSC), Response Times to Inquiries, Tickets Closed Per Day etc.

Customer Success metrics usually focus on growth and retention metrics. Examples include Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Retention, Customer Lifetime Value, Repeat Purchases, Upsells & Cross-Sell rates.

4: Hiring & Enrollment

Customer Support typically requires individuals with deep product knowledge and the ability find workarounds for issues that popup.

Customer Success requires a more diverse skillset including product knowledge, technical architecture and setup as well as understanding of business needs and outcomes.


For long term success, SaaS companies should make clear the difference between Customer Success and Customer Support as well as set up the requisite business function and processes to implement them. Customer Support has a more defined scope and specific purpose. Customer Success is a more fluid definition and requires specific thought and operationalization but can be an important lynch pin in the growth strategy of SaaS Companies.

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