With so many customer service channels now available, it’s never been easier for customers to engage with businesses, whether they’re looking for support or they’re making purchases.
This doesn’t mean, however, that more traditional methods of getting in touch are redundant. Certain situations lend themselves better to in-person interactions. For example, a survey found that people are 15 times more likely to buy self-care products, including cosmetics and skincare, in-person despite online shopping sky-rocketing since early 2020.
With this in mind, is there one method of customer interaction that stands above all others? Here, we’ll cover the evolution of customer service and dive into the benefits of each channel.
Before telephones and the internet, face-to-face was pretty much the only way for customers and businesses to interact, besides physical letters. Although it’s now no longer essential for most customer interactions, it’s really stood the test of time.
In-person interactions are undoubtedly great for a personal experience. Many people might prefer discussing important, sensitive, or complicated matters, such as mortgages, face to face instead of over the phone. What’s more, building personal relationships is easier in person, and that’s critical to the value of your customers; research has shown that customers who have an emotional relationship with you and your business have a 306% higher lifetime value.
When should you work facet of ace with customers?
- When selling certain products, like skincare and cosmetics
- To present quarterly or annual performance reviews
- When hosting collaborative strategy sessions
- To discuss complex products, solutions, or services
Over the phone
As technology progressed, the telephone came along and was adopted by businesses. From the days of manual switchboards to modern cloud-based telephony solutions, the phone has held strong as a key channel for customer communications.
A Customer Contact Central survey found that a huge 45% of people prefer to use the phone to contact businesses. Phone calls are still popular because it retains a personal touch. While you might not be facetoface with the person at the end of the phone, you’re still having a real, human conversation.
Often, speaking to someone over the phone is the fastest way to resolve a query because in-person requires travelling, and live chat can be delayed with typing. But customers find automated options before getting to an agent highly frustrating, so it’s good practice to minimise these or allow frequent callers to skip past them.
When should you prioritise phone calls with your customers?
- When customers need support services
- For urgent enquiries, such as cancelling a lost or stolen bank card
The introduction of email marked the death of the humble letter for many. We can receive the majority of letter-based communications, such as household bills, invoices, and service updates, via email now, and it’s also used as a support channel for customers.
Email offers a much faster turnaround time than letters, but it’s considered a slowermethod of communication than phone or live chat.That’s why it’s great for sharing information that isn’t urgent or time sensitive.
When should you offer email communication?
- To communicate sales and marketing messages to customers
- For queries that aren’t timesensitive, like a complaint or updates on a long-term case
- To share useful but non-essential updates about your services
- For day-to-day communications, like project updates
The next evolution in person-to-person communications came in the form of live chat. Customers can still speak to a real person, but instead of talking about their problem, they can type it out on a computer, tablet, or mobile phone. Live chat has high levels of customer satisfaction – 85.6% of customers report being satisfied with the channel.
There is a range of benefits that come with live chat. Many people don’t enjoy talking over the phone, so it’s less pressure for customers. It’s still a fast method of communication, so customers can get answers quickly. For your business, it can improve productivity because agents can juggle multiple live chats at once, and you can also chat to people who are browsing your products or services on your website.
It’s important for your customers to have access to a real person on live chat. While chatbots can serve a purpose in answering basic queries, it’s hugely frustrating when a customer can’t reach a real agent if they need one. Plus, 50% of UK consumers prefer to speak to a human.
When should you offer live chat?
- For all support queries
- When a customer is browsing their account or products and services on your website
- In the early stages of the sales funnel
Is there a standout channel?
Each customer service channel we’ve talked about has different benefits and can serve different purposes. That means there’s no clear winner – customers need different channels at different times. Customers expect an omnichannel experience, where they can get in touch with you via the method that suits them best.
Businesses that limit the number of channels customers can use to contact them have lower customer satisfaction scores than those that offer an omnichannel experience. We also need to take digital skills into account – many customers aren’t equipped with the skills to use digital channels and rely heavily on phone and in-person contact.
For many businesses, offering an omni channel experience is difficult because of limited resources. That’s where taking advantage of customer service outsourcing can help. Plug the gaps in your customer service team with real humans instead of chatbots and automated phone systems.