In the LIMS, ELN and LES industry, what is customer service versus customer success? For starters, it’s not the strategy of using “best practices” to fit a square peg in a round hole.

At the moment, this particular topic seems to be popular. As such, I thought it would be of interest to people in our industry.

Customer Service

Customer service is what you probably think it is – a customer gets provided with service, as they need it.

For example, we can plan that a customer will have some ongoing issues and we can budget for that in our estimates. We can’t plan what those bugs or issues are going to be but, from experience, we can plan that some will occur. Or that equipment will need service or people will have questions.

Customer Service is a series of transactions. Each time a customer has a need, such as a bug report or question, service is given – the transaction is addressed.

Customer Success

Where Customer Service is reactive, Customer Success is proactive. It’s where you plan the best way to make a customer successful. It’s about looking for ways to ensure that, say, a project best meets its timeline and budget, or that a piece of software a customer is going to purchase has the right features to meet what they need.

Customer Success is concerned with looking at what the customer is trying to do, overall, and mapping out the best way to get there and to make get there. However, it’s not a discrete endpoint. Instead, think of it as being more related to process improvement in that it can always continue. In fact, process improvement can be part of customer success.

Customer Service Versus Customer Success

Almost every customer gets customer service. Most customers buy maintenance plans from their software vendors and make occasional contact with the support group. Not every customer gets treated to customer success efforts, though. In fact, I’m not certain I’ve heard of any of our software vendors or services groups addressing this topic. However, it seems to be a trend in other customer-facing (yes, another popular term I’m seeing, lately) industries. Maybe it will eventually float over our way. You can never tell.