Technical Support vs Customer Support: What’s the Difference?

Technical Support and Customer Service. These two terms are usually confused and lumped together. Some people go as far as using them interchangeably. However, these two terms could not be more different. Knowing the difference between these terms could help you improve your support strategies. 

For a broad explanation, Customer service focuses on the customer experience and interactions. Technical support focuses more on fixing technical issues that the customer has. 

Understanding the difference between customer service and customer support can be a challenge.

At first glance, customer service and customer support seem similar:

  • Both fields involve helping customers.
  • They use similar tools like email, chat, and phone to communicate.
  • They employ similar skills to increase customer satisfaction.
  • Both are critical to the customer experience delivered by businesses.

While both focus on helping customers, customer support is a specific type of customer service that involves documentation, product feedback, and technical problem-solving. The terms customer service and customer support aren’t interchangeable. Customer service is an umbrella term; customer support is a specific type of customer service. 

Feeling unappreciated is the #1 reason customers switch products and services. It’s very important to know the difference between customer support vs. technical support so you can improve customer retention.  Therefore, let’s break down their definitions and discuss the difference between technical support and customer service.

What is Technical Support? 

Technical support service refers to the assistance that is provided to a user who requires help with a technical product or service, be it a hardware device or software tool. The following are what distinguishes customer technical support from customer support:

  • Agents aim to provide assistance to users who require help with the technical side of a product or service
  • Tech support is only provided to those customers who request it
  • Requires a higher level of skill and familiarity with the product or service

As a result, technical support is not usually provided to every single one of your customers, but only to the ones that request it. Generally, Technical Support representatives are also highly skilled and trained to understand the ins and outs of hardware and software products. The more complex the product or service that a business might offer, the higher the skill required for a technical customer support rep will be as well.

What’s Customer Service? 

Customer Service is a set of practices that seek to improve the interactions between your customers and your business through the entire purchasing process, from pre-purchase to post-purchase. In general, customer service aims to:

  • Improve interactions between your customers and your business
  • Exists in every single touchpoint between your customers and your business
  • Provide a pleasant experience for your customers

Customer Service is present at every single touchpoint between every single customer and the business. As a result, Customer Service best practices are usually taught to all staff that might have an interaction with a customer at any point. The end goal of Customer Service is to guarantee a smooth and pleasant interaction between the customer and business. 

What’s the Difference between Technical Support vs Customer Service?

Now that you know the definition of technical support and customer service, let’s see how they are different. Technical Support refers to assistance that is provided to customers who require help with technical products such as hardware and software. On the other hand, Customer Service is a set of practices that seek to guarantee that every single interaction between a customer and a business is pleasant to the customer. 

The common confusion between these two terms stems from the fact that Technical Support reps will need good Customer Service skills to excel at their job. However, that’s not exclusive to them. Any staff that would have direct interactions with customers will need good Customer Service skills as well. This includes sales staff, customer support staff, cashiers, and marketers. In a way, you could say that offering technical support to your customers would be part of your overall Customer Service strategy.

Different Customer Approaches 

Because your goal varies, your approach when interacting with a customer likely varies, too.

  • Good technical support means listening in order to fix. A technical support representative is focused on resolving your issue as quickly as possible. Technical support reps listen to symptoms, try to reproduce the issue, and quickly provide a solution to the issue.
  • Customer service reps listen with empathy. They put themselves in the “shoes” of the customer and try to understand what the customer is trying to accomplish. They aren’t listening to fix, they are instead listening to recommendations. This could be recommending a new product or a different approach.

Different Product Perspectives

When discussing the difference in perspective, I like to use what I call the “word processing example.” When you contact technical support about an error in your word processor, they can always help you resolve that error dialog box that pops up. They can also help you figure out what plugin isn’t working and remove it. 

However, when you say, “I’m writing a paper in APA format and I need to know how to make the first-page header different than subsequent pages,” technical support will probably come up short. This is where customer service steps in and can offer distinguishing value. Customer service means knowing what the customer is going through and helping to find a solution.

Trust Your Tech Support and Customer Service Needs to Pexly

Whether you are looking for assistance with customer service or technical support, Pexly can help you assemble a team that will meet your exact needs. We have extensive experience actualizing projects of all sizes and difficulties in customer service and tech support and we can provide you with services that will help you meet your business goals. 

We are one of the largest and most trusted BPO providers in Europe serving companies of all sizes and helping them provide their customers with great experiences.

Check what our clients saying about Pexly on Clutch


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