How to choose the right customer support channel

Customer service is highly important in today’s changing world. Customers need answers and you should provide them. What changes is the means of communication. It can be done with conventional channels or innovative ones. But which one should you choose?

You should take into consideration 3 factors while making that decision:

  • Your team (their capacity, skills, and interests).
  • Your customers (their expectations, needs, context, and abilities).
  • Your industry (trends and norms you need to be aware of).

It’s better for your customers, your team, and your business to focus on a few support channels than it is to spread yourselves thin and provide an inconsistent service across all of them. Customer service will be faster and more efficient if your employees focus on scrupulously selected channels and master them.

In these days of digitalisation, almost everything can be supported with a software solution that increases efficiency even more and adds more features. Also, whichever channel you chose it should correspond with your software and other systems, in short, your systems should be integrated.

                                                                                          

The most popular support channels

The range of options is changing all the time and you should keep up with the pace of the constantly evolving world of technology. Here are several popular support channels:

  • Email – the most widely used and well-established support channel. Emails are conversational and easy to process and manage. Anytime a consultant can go back in the conversation and check the previous arrangements. Unfortunately, emails might be frustrating when an issue requires a lot of back-and-forth.
  • Phone support – the most popular with older generations. Allows for real time direct, personal conversation. Sometimes it might be one of the fastest ways of getting crucial information. But phone support is time-consuming and costly.
  • Live chat – it is something in-between emails and phone support. The back-and-forth is less problematic and an experienced consultant can solve many issues in real time. One off the downsides is that the expected response time is higher than email so it can require more people in a team.
  • Social media – it functions as both, brand platform and a support channel. It might be similar to live chat but also visible for other users. Mostly facilitates conversation around products and services. In public space people typically expect an immediate response.
  • Knowledge base – is an excellent way to scale customer service efficiently by enabling customers to help themselves. It needs an initial investment but allows you to save a lot of time and money at the end.
  • Chatbot – is a tool programmed to answer most common questions asked by customers. Well programmed it is a powerful combination of a live chat and knowledge base but does not require much attention from your employees. When Chatbot does not have a particular answer programmed it can redirect customers to other support channels. Like knowledge base, it needs an initial investment but saves time and reduces the workflow of the employees.

Employee, customer, industry

As it was mentioned before, to make a good decision you should take into consideration 3 factors:

1. Understand your team

You must know who you are working with because not every service agent or consultant is suitable for every support channel. For example, some of them might have exceptional written skills but find phone calls stressful. Of course you can train them and develop their skills but before doing that, you should take an audit of their current skills and preferences. Answer questions like: how busy they are? What interests have they expressed regarding different types of support? What channels of communication do they prefer? What tools and systems do they use?

Firstly identify channels where multiple team members already have experience. Try to increase the performance by training, integrating systems to increase workflow or acquire new software to work more efficiently. Then, offer these channels for customers on a trial basis and look at their reaction.

2. Know your customers

There is a lot you should know about your customers. Where do they spend time online? Which channels do they want to use to talk to you? How old is your customer base? What types of questions do they have? What have your competitors to offer? What preferences do your customers have? If you have help desk software you are probably able to run a report and answer these questions. If not, you should conduct research in order to improve your efficiency and performance. You should know how your customers want to contact you not how they do it right now.

3. Keep an eye on industry

Apart from paying attention to your customers’ needs and wants, your staff preferences and skills, you should also take into account the current situation in the industry and broader business changes. The whole landscape of customer service is constantly changing and customers tend to use innovative channels such as social media or chatbots to find answers. Knowing the industry will allow you to make conscious choices also in terms of support channels.

To sum up

It is highly important to give your customers the possibility to contact you in case of any doubts, questions or feedback. It is crucial to choose the most suitable communication channel but equally important is the software solution that will give you the ability to process and manage the whole communication, problem solving and quickly find the answers. To work the most efficiently, you should be equipped with a powerful software solution or have your systems perfectly integrated. In both cases, Headchannel Ltd. can help you to develop a suitable and vital software solution.

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