Phone, Email or Live Support. What to Choose?

Phone, Email or Live Support. What to Choose?

Over the past several decades we all have witnessed the rapid growth of the Internet-based business. For now, it seems almost impossible to run a competitive company without internet-marketing, online-databases and, unsurprisingly, online support.

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Back in the good old days, customer support was carried out over the phone, via email, or even in person. However, those days are gone: as Internet-based forms of communications are overtaking the classical approaches, the customer support game evolves rapidly along with the way we inquire, report and troubleshoot problems.

Since the very beginning of the internet age, we saw a massive increase in the number of projects that integrated web-based support into their customer services in response to a rising demand for top-quality interactions. According to the statistics, 70 percent of buying experiences are based on how the customers feel they are being treated.

Nevertheless, web based customer service doesn’t always get things right. Trading off expensive live representatives for cheap scripting may result in the bad customer experience and drop in sales alike. Choosing a wrong communication channel can cause irrevocable damage to your reputation and competitiveness.

When it comes to interactions with customers, you’ll do everything to land on your feet. We are certain that for your business every single client matters. By writing this article, we want to help you choose the right channel for providing your fellow customers with truly top-notch service.

First of all, we have to single out different kinds of interactions. Underlying each of them is the need for an efficient and well-timed client service. In the 21st century, no one would use a telegraph as a customer support engine, right?

Phone service

Although this form of customer support is gradually losing way and a lot of companies have been phasing it out over the last several years, it is still on the market helping bigger players to satisfy their fastidious clients.

If you want to start offering phone customer service, there are a number of things you should know in order to keep it as your advantage, rather than turning it into a fatal mistake.

Anyway, the good news is always better. So let’s go with the good news. Above all, phone service means better trust. When the customer sees a phone number being a part of your contact details, it corroborates that there are real people on the other end of the line. Even if your client doesn’t need to call, knowing that they can, considerably strengthens your company’s credibility in the eyes of the potential customer.

As noted above, by adding a phone number to the contact information, you can build credibility and add value to your brand, but that’s not all. Phone interactions can stand in a good stead in terms of the improvement of your services. In addition, it makes your clients feel valued since you monitor their needs and build your game plan upon their concerns.

On the other hand, phone service can put your project between a rock and a hard place as the number of interactions increases. The problem is that you need to reserve a staff member for each phone call. Although it may not seem a big deal when you are starting out, but as your business grows bigger you will be receiving more and more calls resulting in the lack of support agents. Considering the price you should pay for handling large call volumes, phone service is going to cost you a fortune.

At the same time, handing over customer support tasks to your programmers and managers can be even worse. Phone calls are disruptive to their main responsibilities of your staff since they have to drop what they have been doing and talk to clients. Granting employees with additional tasks would negatively affect business’s productivity and cut your revenues in the long run.

Surprisingly, attempts to solve complex issues via phone can cause the bad customer experience. If a client doesn’t get an effective and timely solution, they are very likely to quit doing business with your company. Keep in mind that phone support has one the lowest satisfaction levels in comparison with other forms of customer interactions. According to the stats from eDigital’s Customer Service Benchmark, only 44% of clients are satisfied with phone services that companies offer to them.

At a certain stage in development, you may start thinking of the system that can redirect your customers to different agents accordingly to the substance and content of their issues. Although automated phone call system might seem like a good idea for boosting an efficiency of customer service, it would lead to frustration of clients if used incorrectly. In fact, by leaving customers hanging on the line listening to annoying muzak, you ruin your reputation and hand over your hard-earned customer to the competitors.

Remember that it shouldn’t take longer than 2 minutes to get a client to a live agent. Data has shown, that 75% of customers are not satisfied with the time they spend being on hold and pressing numbers on the phone.

In addition to the cons listed above, phone service can potentially lead to lengthy court proceedings. You see, contact centers usually record calls, whereas recording a call on behalf of a client without a permission of support agent can be considered as a violation of law in some countries. This leaves nothing for the customer to refer back to when the same issue that he/she reported about occurs again.
Let’s sum it up.

Does your company have a phone support?

  • If no, you should weigh its pros and cons and then make a balanced decision on whether to include it in your game plan or rely on other sorts of interactions.
  • If yes, you need to analyse its efficiency and think of making few updates to your phone support strategy.

Email support

With 61% satisfaction level, email support stands out among other interaction channels, ahead of only live chat with 73% rate.

By choosing email support over the phone line, you attack the problem of long waiting times and automated answering systems at its very roots. Nevertheless, email service comes with both benefits and drawbacks to the contact centers that use it.

The biggest advantage email service channel has is that it doesn’t require an immediate response. That allows the support agent to prepare the answer, find the most effective way to troubleshoot the issue, find an appropriate solution and prevent its occurrence in the future.

At the same time, customers normally expect more from an email-based support service. The longer it takes you to reply, the more expectations client puts in your message. You don’t want to write 100 pages novels in response to the single out-dated message? Don’t grow your email queue, provide a short and meaningful response as quickly as possible.

Unlike phone interactions, emails can be saved by your customers. This prevents the issue of repeated requests and helps to save a lot of time and money. On the other hand, customers can use email transcripts in potential claims against your company, making such interactions more accountable and infinitely more demanding.

Probably the biggest problem with email support is that agents are not able to ask any clarifying questions or check if customer understands everything. This, in turn, may result in the growing number of angry customers. Unhappy clients are not always able to express their feelings in the written form, leaving the support agent uninformed about the worsening frustration of the customer. The delay in response to a difficult client can have either negative or positive effect on the emotional state of the customer, which you won’t guess from the text message anyway.

While an acceptable email responding time is 24 hours, angry clients should be handled much faster. If you want to effectively defuse an emotional hurricane of your unhappy clients and turn them into loyal supporters of your brand, consider responding within an hour. Moreover, quick email responses is a strong WOW factor that can increase trust in your brand and boost both online and offline sales. To handle difficult clients efficiently, check out our tips on how to deal with angry customers and gain their loyalty.

Does your company have an email support?

  • If yes, make sure it doesn’t take more than 2 hours to respond. Consider other channels for dealing with angry customers.
  • If no, give it a try. Email support can save your time and money since one agent can handle several customers simultaneously. Moreover, it allows for more professional and well-prepared responds.

Live support

Live chat has the highest satisfaction level, with 73% customers being happy with this kind of interaction. So there is no surprise that over the last decade live chats have taken off quickly, shrinking the number of phone calls and allowing customer support agents to deal with several inquiries at the same time.

Clients go for live chat for a number of reasons, but time is a key factor. According to the statistics, 79% of those who prefer live chat said they did so because their questions were answered immediately.

If you want to provide your customers with a superior support experience, we recommend you to decrease the responding time to a couple of minutes.

Here is more food for thought:

  • 63% of customers are likely to return to a website that offers a live chat, giving it a preference over the one that doesn’t.
  • 77% of customers won’t buy anything if there is no live chat support.
  • 44% of customers pointed out that a live chat agent available during a purchase is the most important feature a company can offer.

Live chat has collected the best from both phone and email support. It makes interactions easier and much less stressful, enables your agents to handle several customers simultaneously and can provide your customers with an outstanding experience. On the other hand, questions in live chat should be answered almost immediately, with little time for making a decent answer.

Does your company have a live support?

  • If yes, check the time it takes your team to troubleshoot and solve a problem. Don’t make your customers wait for more than 2 minutes.
  • If no, we strongly recommend to try it out. Live chat is something that every business must have in 2017. When building a superior live support, tools like Intercom and Drift may stand you in a good stead.

Conclusions

The landscape of customer expectations is rapidly changing. To meet the needs of every customer out there, you shouldn’t focus on the single channel. Text-based communication has a lot to offer regarding the price you should pay for building an outstanding customer support service, but it makes it a way more difficult to interact with difficult clients since it can be more complicated to understand how customer feels and provide them with an appropriate response. At the same time, phone service can be dangerous if you cannot guarantee that your clients will get in touch with a support agent within the first 2 minutes of interaction.

In a market where every customer is valuable, we need to pay attention to all kinds of customer support, including phone, email and live support. For those, who want to get their customer support in black, the best solution is to provide clients with all of them.

George Svash
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