The Difference Between Customer Support and Customer Relationship Management


Customers always go through a buyer’s journey before making a purchase. If you want to get a little broader, you could even count subscribers and followers in that sentence as well.

Whenever a person turns to an organization for anything, whether its content, a product, or a service, they go through stages of a process. From discovering what it is they’re looking for to completing the process of making a transaction or entering into a professional relationship, customer journeys are similar but unique.

Many organizations offer dedicated customer support services. But is this the same thing as customer relationship management? And if not, what are the distinctions between these two important aspects of business?

Support Stands Ready, and Usually Comes Later

Customer support is usually thought of as an after-service, which comes into play once a person has already made a purchase or made a commitment and needs help to ensure they get the most out of it. Customer support can take many forms. There may be a dedicated department on hand that can be contacted via email, phone, or online chat module.

Support may be offered and advertised at other stages of the buying process, such as when a customer is browsing their options and needs some clarification about which offering would best fit their needs. Support is usually a background service in the early stages of the buyer’s journey. It comes into play when the user needs it and is an ‘active’ feature in that customers must engage it in order to reap the benefits.

CRM is a Holistic Process, and Exists in the Background

Customer relationship management is something that any successful business should always keep in mind. Being a long-term success, especially in a competitive market, requires more than good products and services.

Customers want a business that is tailored to their needs – something that advertises to them in a way that is engaging, presents them with a good deal during the buying/subscription phase, and continues to provide them resources and support after the fact.

CRM isn’t a department – it’s an ongoing process that involves many different things across the scope of a business. Likewise, its not something a customer actively requests or engages in. Instead, it could be viewed as a framework or a process that helps ensure customers feel connected to and valued by the organizations they choose to spend time and money on.

How the Two Overlap

There are a few main differences between customer support and customer relationship management. However, this doesn’t mean they don’t have any common ground.

Both customer support and CRM are created around the most common needs of the business’s customers. Understanding your target market is vital for having good support and good CRM. Just as software programs exist to help streamline support services, they also exist to make managing customer relationships a little easier.

Both support and relationship management are vital for ensuring customers feel comfortable continuing to work with an organization. This makes them both vital for long-term organizational success.


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