Which Customer Service Channels Are Right for Your Business?

Customers expect flawless customer service across every channel. As a business owner, it’ll be up to you to decide which channels you’ll support. Your goal should be to offer your customers their favorite channels, even though that will mean more work for your team.

Providing customers with exceptional customer service will encourage them to share their purchases with their friends and family and to return to your store as a repeat buyer. Thanks to the increasing popularity of social media, really awesome interactions can even appear on media outlets and social communities such as Imgur and Reddit.

With new channels and technologies emerging every year, it can be difficult keeping up with trends and evolving customer demands. Let’s explore some of the more popularly used service channels to see which ones are best suited for your online business.

  1. Phone

For most online businesses, phone support is probably the most important yet difficult channel to implement. Depending on the size of your customer base, you may decide to provide your own personal phone number or use a dedicated IVR system and a team of agents to take calls. You can acquire a toll free number and forward calls from services such as Grasshopper and 800.com.

Few channels are as great at resolving issues quickly and efficiently as quality phone support. Moreover, phone support is an easy way to build rapport with customers and turn them into loyal, life-long customers.

  1. Email

Email support is one of the easiest channels you can have. It requires significantly less effort than phone while still allowing you to effectively communicate with customers. On the other hand, because email doesn’t happen in real time, it can be easy to let your quality of service slip. Delaying a reply or missing an important email due to a cluttered, unorganized inbox can quickly turn a customer into an irate one.

To more easily manage your customer emails and ensure all questions are replied to in a timely manner, it’s best to have a dedicated email for your online business. You may be able to acquire email through your eCommerce platform or you can use an inbox service such as Google Apps for Work or Rackspace Email.

  1. Live Chat

Live chat is a fantastic way to communicate with customers in real time.  Because a skilled chat agent can handle multiple chats simultaneously, live chat is one of the most efficient and cost-effective channels you can have.

Many customers are adverse to phone support, which can involve long wait times and annoying music. You can easily add live chat to your online store with tools such as 3dLiveChat, TidioChat, ChatPirate, and Olark.

  1. Helpdesk

The helpdesk is a type of email support that operates on a ticket system. Helpdesks offer tools that make it easy to organize, manage, and resolve customer concerns. A number of helpdesk solutions also provide a self-service feature (discussed below), which can provide you with an additional customer service channel.

Like email, a help desk collects enquiries around-the-clock, but customers can only receive support when an agent is available during business hours. Some Helpdesk solutions include Groove, Freshdesk, Kayako, and Zendesk.

  1. Self-Service

The king of efficiency when it comes to customer service is self-service. Although it can take quite a lot of time and energy to produce self-service documentation, the initial cost is quickly outweighed by your potential return. A great knowledge base allows customers to conveniently find the answers they need on their own, and means one less interaction for your busy agents. A knowledge base can provide information about your products, features, pricing, services, and even identify and address common concerns and problems.

There are a number of knowledge base software solutions, including KnowledgeOwl, Kayako, and Helpjuice.

  1. Social Media

Social media is quickly emerging as the go-to outlet for customers to share their experiences and post their complaints. Customers that post on social media expect a quick reply, so it’s important to maintain an active presence across all of your social media accounts. In some instances, social media support alone won’t be enough to resolve an issue; a concern may need to be forwarded to another channel when sensitive information such as credit card number and address must be discussed.

Conclusion

These are just some of the popular channels available today. Skype, video chat, SMS, and countless other channels can help your business achieve a higher level of customer satisfaction. Research which channels your customers most prefer, and work toward incorporating one a time in order to maintain a high level of satisfaction across all of your channels.

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