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6 Support Channels to Improve Your Customer Service

By R. J. Stangle / Mar 08, 2016

The need to provide excellent customer experiences has indisputably never been as important as it is in today’s consumer-driven world.

According to Bain & Company, a customer is four times more likely to take their business to a competitor if a problem they incur with your brand is service-related versus price-related. Considering how much time and money you put into acquiring these customers in the first place, ensuring they receive top-notch support when they need it should be at the top of your priority list.

The next logical question you might ask is, what support channels should I be providing to my customers? Read on to learn what alternatives are out there, why consumers value these alternatives, and even a few tips on how to optimize them.

1.  Phone

Telephone support is typically seen as a traditional support offering by most companies. Apart from face-to-face interaction, telephone support provides the most significant “human-element” into the support experience, as agents and customers are able to have a natural conversation, making it easier for the agent to read the emotions of the customer and reduce miscommunications. Less tech-savvy individuals may also opt to call a company representative to avoid the trouble of having to navigate through a website or customer portal online.

Be sure to train agents to always keep a positive tone when dealing with customers over the phone in order to maximize the customer experience. Other tips for phone agents include making the conversations personalized by using the customer’s name, as well as refraining from over-using scripts.

 2.  Live Chat

Live chat support is becoming a much more common offering in recent years on company websites. Not only is it becoming more popular, but it is a very attractive support option in the minds of consumers. In fact, live chat boasts a 73% customer satisfaction level, higher than any other medium! Many of the benefits that customers experience when using chat support are related to the timely manner which they can receive support in, as well as their ability to multi-task while receiving this support.

One easy way to drastically improve the customer experience during live chat support is to ensure your chat allows image uploads, making communication much easier as sharing screenshots can help your agent diagnose and solve a problem. Be sure to read our past blog post on effective live chat tech support for more tips!

 3. Email

While live chat support and phone support make it easy for customers to converse back and forth with agents in real-time, email support is a more delayed medium of communication, resulting in a longer time period before issues are typically resolved. This being said, many companies consider it a must in their support offerings due to almost universal reach that it provides. Email support may also be seen as a more suitable option for busy consumers who do not have the time in their schedules for a potentially long discussion with a support agent, preferring to check their emails when it is convenient for them.

When delivering email support, keep in mind that most customers prefer the use of a casual tone. An exception to this is when bad news is being communicated (ex: a tech issue will be costly to resolve), in which case a more formal tone is often more appropriate.

4. Social Media

Social networks like Facebook and Twitter might not be the first channel that companies consider when contemplating where to offer customer support. However, it remains an important medium where many of your customers likely reside. In fact, Gartner has estimated that churn rates are 15% higher when companies do not offer customer support on their social media outlets.

Depending on the size of your business and customer base, it can be beneficial to create designated accounts for support inquires only. This can prevent typical social media administrators (usually marketers) who lack technical support skills from having to respond to inquiries that they are not well-equipped to address.

5. Video-Assisted

Easily the most cutting-edge support channel on this list, video-assisted support is an exciting, innovative technology that allows agents to tap into the live video feed from a customer’s mobile device camera to provide them with remote support. With the help of LogMeIn’s Rescue Lens, we at AppHelp have used this technology to give our agents the ability to support any device in the connected home. Consumers will see great value in this technology, as showing an agent a problem can be much easier for them than trying to communicate the same problem over the phone or live chat.

When using this support technology, some consumers may convey hesitations regarding allowing the agent to see through their device’s camera due to privacy issues – certainly a valid concern. To address this hesitation, make it clear to your customer that the process is completely secure and the camera feed is disconnected as soon as the support session has concluded.

6. Self-Service

While the previous support alternatives have all involved the traditional model of an agent helping a customer, organizations are now recognizing that many of their customers place a high value on self-service resources. A recent survey found that 67% of consumers actually prefer self-service to speaking to a company representative. Some of the more common self-service resources include knowledge bases, FAQs, customer community platforms and automated tech support tools. Why exactly are consumers so attracted to self-service offerings?

  • Efficiency – if done right, self-service resources can help a consumer quickly diagnose and solve their issue without having to wait to speak to a support agent.
  • Satisfaction – many consumers enjoy the satisfaction of fixing their own problems without having to ask others for help.
  • Education – tools like knowledge bases will not only help solve a specific issue for consumers, they will also provide them with more insight and knowledge on a topic that could be of benefit to them in the future.

Companies willing to invest in self-service offerings can expect to see more of their customers solving problems on their own, leading to a significant reduction in support costs and ticket volumes.

Despite the benefits of investing in self-service, many companies do not use it fully to their advantage. In fact, 40% of customers resort to contacting a call center out of frustration after not being able to successfully resolve their own issue. To reduce this frustration and optimize their self-service offerings, organizations needs to ensure their resources are informative, relevant, trustworthy and perhaps most importantly, easy to find (answers should be no more than a few clicks away).

Bottom-line – what support channels are the best?

As you might already know by now, the answer to that question is – it depends. The needs of your customers should dictate what support alternatives you should be offering them. Think about the customer benefits discussed in this article for each channel and determine what option(s) line up best with what your customers expect and require from you.

At AppHelp, we’ve been delivering white label premium support services to residential and business customers of world leading service providers via their customers’ preferred channels including phone, live chat, and video-assisted support. Discover how our end-to-end support services can help you provide superior customer experience.