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Brainery | | eCommerce 101: What’s the Difference Between Customer Service & Customer Support?

eCommerce 101: What’s the Difference Between Customer Service & Customer Support?

customer supportecommerce | May 21, 2020
eCommerce 101

Learn about the difference between customer service and customer support, as well as how they work together and tips for mastering both.

As an eCommerce seller, you probably hear the terms customer service and customer support frequently. Countless advice articles and guides tell us that it is imperative to offer stellar customer service and / or support in order to succeed. 

But what is the difference between these two terms? Or are they synonymous? 

While customer service and customer support often overlap and can be seen as two sides of the same coin, they are not, in fact, identical. Let’s break down the difference between the two and explore how they work hand in hand to help your business grow. 

Customer Service

The easiest way to understand how customer service and support differ is to remember that customer service is the less technical and more all-encompassing of the two. Members of an eCommerce company’s customer service team may assist buyers at every stage of the shopping process. 

Questions about item availability, shipping policies, pricing and the like fall under the customer service umbrella. Customer service representatives may also be called upon to handle customer complaints, upsells, returns / refunds and similar duties. The job of a customer service pro is to keep buyers informed and happy. Their relationship with shoppers is transactional and helpful in nature. 

Examples of customer service-related questions include: 

  • Does this shirt come in blue?
  • When will my item(s) ship?
  • What is your return policy?

That said, customer service agents need not necessarily have a deep technical knowledge of the products / services their company sells. This is where customer support comes in. 

Customer Support

A customer support professional helps buyers with more technical issues. Members of a customer support department are responsible for assisting customers with product usage, troubleshooting and in-depth information. 

For example, if a customer has issues with how to use a product or service they bought, the customer support representative may provide a walkthrough or troubleshooting session via phone or even video. Customer support pros also perform product demonstrations, conduct usability testing / surveys, create knowledge base documentation and provide feedback to development teams on how to improve products. 

Examples of customer support-related questions include:

  • I can’t get this software to download on my computer, can you help?
  • Will you walk me through setting up my new smartphone?
  • How do I change the settings on this treadmill?

Stellar Service & Support = Happy Buyers

If handled properly, customer service and support work together to help your business grow. When seeking customer service representatives, look for individuals who are friendly and courteous. And when hiring customer support agents, make sure candidates have a pleasant demeanor and astute technical ability / product knowledge. Employees in both positions should be eager to help customers. 

Also remember: communication is key. Whether customers are looking for service, support or both, quick and accurate responses are crucial. By centralizing and assigning your messages with Replyco, you can get back to shoppers with lightning speed while also making sure their messages are received and handled by the appropriate person.

With customizable templates and affordable plans, it’s never been easier to organize your messaging and delight buyers. 

Start your Free Trial to get your customer service AND customer support under control TODAY!


Jodi Gaines CGO Replyco Helpdesk for eCommerce

About the author: Jodi Gaines

Jodi has been helping eCommerce sellers improve their communication and marketing strategies for more than 20 years. She currently serves as a Strategic Advisor for Replyco Helpdesk. Jodi was also the co-founder, CEO and editor at ReplyManager (sold to Xsellco in 2015) and has helped manage growth strategies for multiple businesses and start-ups, including eBay, VWERL and Stop Aging Now (The Clorox Company). Follow Jodi on LinkedIn.


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