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Article 4 min read

Should you offer customer assistance alongside customer service?

Last updated August 11, 2021

First of all, you might be wondering what exactly is the difference between customer assistance and customer service?

In a nutshell, customer assistance is the act of working to help a customer troubleshoot any problems they might have with your products or services, particularly technological. On the other hand, customer service is about ensuring customer satisfaction with every level of the service that you provide.

To some extent, you could say that customer assistance is just a branch of customer service. Customer assistance however, is more a way of supporting your customers to help themselves, whilst customer service is more about providing your customers with a level of service that only you could offer them, so that they can either receive or have access to the services or products they’ve purchased from you.

RELATED:Customer service definition, skills, and important principles for 2021

So which is better, and is it a good idea or a waste of time and money to offer both at the same time? Here we discuss both options.

Customer assistance

Customer assistance, or customer support, often includes factors such as fixing technical problems. One of the main advantages here is that these issues can often be corrected remotely.

For example, as long as you have a working internet connection, if you need Apple to troubleshoot any issues with your new phone or computer, their customer support agents can usually talk you through resetting and fixing these for you via their live chat software, solving your problem remotely.

This is a prime example of online customer assistance, yet as it is a service that is so effective and easy to use, it certainly leads to a high level of customer satisfaction, which is a shared goal of good customer service. Your support team will need to be adequately trained in the technology skills they’ll need to provide this level of professional assistance.

Online customer support proves particularly effective as live customer help chat apps are often considered more accessible by customers. Offering real time assistance in this manner often means the customer can resolve their issues faster than if they had needed to phone in and wait for a service operator to be free.

Online customer help actually works to empower the customer, allowing them to feel they have acted to resolve their issue and actively done something about it themselves.

Alternatively, customers who are instructed to phone a call centre are often left at the whims of whoever they manage to get through to first, leaving them wondering if this person has the right training to help them effectively. As a consequence, customers actually tend to have more faith in the capabilities of online customer assistance, even if this is provided over social media.

Another way customers can be made to feel able to help themselves resolve their issues is by having access to a faq page of common questions. Not only does this improve customer satisfaction, but also cuts down your customer care team’s workload, allowing them to focus on more urgent matters.

RELATED: Good customer service: 10 ways to deliver great customer service

Customer care is more about protecting your business’s reputation for creating desirable, durable products or services that fully serve their intended purpose.

Customer service

Customer service focuses more on your customers’ experiences of using your company. Aiming to provide positive customer service experiences for every single one of your customers is the goal of all successful businesses.

Ideal skills you will want to look for when hiring staff for your customer service team include good interpersonal and communication skills. You will also want to look for people who are good listeners and can exercise a lot of patience.

RELATED: 16 customer service skills for 2021 (with examples)

Other good skills to have in this role include an ability to be meticulous in record keeping. If you can encourage your customer service staff to listen to customers carefully and make accurate records of the conversations they have, you will easily be able to analyse your metrics so as to further improve or enhance your products and services in the future.

Like customer assistance faq pages, these can also feed into a company’s online customer service provision. They can help increase your customers’ satisfaction with your brand, which is one of the main aims of sound customer service models.

Is it actually best to offer customer assistance alongside customer service?

Depending on the nature of your business, you might find that these two factors of your marketing strategy are inextricably linked.

Technology companies tend to rely on customer assistance as a way of avoiding issues escalating into complaints that need to be dealt with by a customer service team.

There is then the chance that customer assistance might not work for your company. If there is a way that you think your business could offer troubleshooting support to your customers however, we highly recommend investing in this feature.

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