Customer Service Channels: Definition & Types
Forget about the old days of sitting on the phone for hours with customer service. Today, it’s easier than ever for customers to contact a brand through the channels we prefer most, which has ultimately made customer service interactions all the more pleasant. However, each customer service channel has a unique way of meeting your customers’ needs, and piecing together which ones you should use for your brand can be quite the puzzle.
What are the primary types of customer service channels?
When you’re building or expanding your brand’s customer service department, considering which channels your team should plan to support depends on a few factors, including your goals, bandwidth, and target customers. To make this selection process a bit more simple, we’ve provided a quick overview of the primary channels used for customer service below, along with the channel definition.
Before chatbots and email, phone support was the primary customer service channel. Though there are certainly customers now who are uncomfortable or even have anxiety about talking to someone on the phone, 59% of customers still prefer to reach customer support via phone calls. Additionally, because phone support can be a more secure channel for account verification and billing purposes, it’s worthwhile for your team to cover.
Email has become a more popular customer service channel over the years. Customers who utilize email support cannot only elaborate on their issues but also attach screenshots and photos that make troubleshooting more streamlined for the agent. Email also allows agents to handle more than one inquiry at a time, which helps to keep ticket queues much more manageable.
3. Live chat
Many brands use live chat in their customer service strategy because it allows customers to get lightning-fast answers to their questions and creates more opportunities for agents to upsell and cross-sell on the spot. Plus, because 44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a website can offer, live chat is more likely to improve customer satisfaction and conversion rates.
4. Social media
Social media customer service is the support offered to customers on platforms like Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. Though we definitely suggest that you consider providing customer support on social media – mainly because a third of customers talk about a brand experience online with family and friends – the answer is not necessarily to join every single social media platform in a mad rush. Do your due diligence first to identify the platforms your primary audiences & demographics use most, and evaluate whether showing up there will benefit your brand and elevate your customer experience. Either way, be sure to respond to all interactions with customers on your social channels. Each comment, post, and DM – positive or negative – deserves a response, and following up will make sure your customers feel seen and valued by your brand.
Gosh – who doesn’t love a self-service option when looking for a quick answer or solution?!If this sounds like you, you’re certainly not alone. Not only do 81% of customers attempt to take care of matters themselves before reaching out to an agent, but 88% of customers also expect brands to have an online self-service portal for such instances. Therefore, offering self-service options for returns, exchanges, and troubleshooting is hugely important for brands looking to update their customer service strategies. As big fans of a super-detailed FAQ page, we also recommend creating (and regularly updating) one on your website.
Choosing the Right Customer Service Channels for Your Brand
Though the options for customer service channels we presented might feel a bit overwhelming at first glance, remember that you don’t need to implement or focus on all of them at once (or even at all) to create a well-rounded customer service experience. We recommend starting with a few and, first and foremost, researching how each customer service channel will land with your customers. Not only will choosing a select number of channels streamline your customer service strategy, but it will also help you avoid spreading your agents too thin and risk providing a level of support that doesn’t align with the standards your customers expect. To choose the right customer service channels for your business to focus on, check out the quick tips we’ve dropped for you below:
1. Listen to your customers
Trust us – customers will let you know when they are unhappy with a customer service channel or lack thereof. However, you can still ask them outright what their preferred channels are when you’re considering adding a new one to your customer service strategy. By listening to your customers’ feedback or putting together a survey asking them about their age and demographic, the types of questions they typically have, and how they enjoy communicating with brands, you can learn valuable insights into which channels would benefit them the most.
2. Consider your team’s bandwidth
If you have a lean customer service team, adding several more channels will likely result in burnout and prevent your brand from offering the level of support that customers deserve. Therefore, ask yourself the following questions to determine which channels you can reasonably add and still provide a high level of support:
- How many time zones do we serve?
- What training will our agents need to serve customers effectively?
- Will we need to hire more customer service agents?
- Do we need a new system or process to track tickets on each channel?
3. Optimize your existing service channels
If your brand isn’t quite ready to add more customer service channels, the next logical step may be to improve and perfect your customer experience on the channels you already support. Here are a few tips you can use to help optimize the channels in your current customer service strategy:
- Make everything mobile-friendly – Use clear CTAs for contact buttons and make sure your FAQ page & other digital resources are supported on mobile devices.
- Use a helpdesk – Helpdesk software is a must for E-Commerce brands that need to streamline day-to-day operations via automation for repetitive admin tasks, implement omnichannel support, and improve customer satisfaction as a whole.
- Create templates + canned responses – Though we encourage our agents to provide a special touch to elevate the customer experience here at TalentPop, we also value consistency. Therefore, we recommend creating an accessible database of templates & canned responses to help your agents find appropriate answers for each ticket and customize them as they see fit.
Optimize Your Customer Service Strategy by Choosing the Right Support Channels for Your E-Commerce Brand
Creating a well-rounded customer service experience is vital to growing a successful brand, but it doesn’t mean you have to hop on the bandwagon of every support channel overnight. Finding the right channels for your brand requires research, strategy, and thought. By prioritizing the experience and the potential effects of each support channel on your customers and internal customer service team, you’ll be able to identify which ones will positively impact your brand and bring more customers through the door. If you’re ready to learn more about how TalentPop can help you optimize your existing support channels and elevate your customer experience, reach out to our team today to schedule a call. In as little as 3 weeks, we can match you with qualified, friendly agents who will support your brand every step of the way.
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