Nine out of ten customers are willing to purchase more and more from brands that offer outstanding support across multiple customer contact channels. These figures derived from a recent study indicate the vital importance of customer support and how to select the best channels to provide it.
A customer channel is any method or platform used to interact with consumers at any touchpoint along their journey.
In this article, we discuss the best customer service channels available based on 15+ years of experience serving TextMagic users. These channels range from conventional phone calls and email to AI-enabled communication and self-service support portals.
You’ll also learn how to identify the channels that will be most effective based on actual data, costs, speed of implementation, and more. Let’s dive in.
Customer support channels are an important part of your CX strategy. The most effective options for your business will depend on the type of product or service you offer, the size of your organization, and your target audience.
Salesforce’s 2022 State of Service shows how organizations use different channels to support their customers. Self-service channels continue to be widely used, but channels such as email and phone are decreasing in popularity as the adoption of SMS, messenger apps, and video support increases.
That’s why it’s so important to offer multiple customer contact channels and encourage your support team to master customer communication. Here are some common options to consider in this regard:
Over three-quarters of the interactions between customers and support agents occur over the phone. So, it looks like voice calls still remain the customer’s channel of choice across all age groups.
Moreover, the vast majority of people over the age of 56 prefer reaching a company through phone calls before making a purchase.
What makes this channel so popular among customers? It’s real-time, immediate, and direct.
Customers who choose this support channel tend to be highly satisfied with their overall experience. They feel like they’ve been heard and valued.
Phone calls also allow you to handle urgent issues in real-time rather than waiting for an email response or social media reply that may not come until later in the day (or not at all).
Email remains among the most important communication channels for Millennials, Generation X, and Boomers. About 63% of recipients open their emails at least twice a day.
This support channel is great for customers who want to reach out quickly but don’t need immediate assistance. Email communication allows service agents to respond on their terms while also keeping track of individual conversations.
Email is a viable customer contact channel when using services or products provided by international companies, where there may be language barriers and considerable time differences.
The fact that email is such a commonly used, readily accessible, and affordable contact channel makes it imperative for businesses to incorporate it into their customer support strategy.
According to a SproutSocial study, 76% U.S. of consumers expect brands to respond to their requests on social media in less than 24 hours. Taking more than one day to respond is unacceptable. The same study indicates that 82% of marketers respond via social in less than 12 hours:
Social media is an effective channel for customer service because it allows you to connect with customers in real-time and provide instant gratification. Moreover, when customers are frustrated or confused, they tend to reach out on social.
Responses to Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn posts are public and can also provide information to other customers with similar issues.
This will allow you to build trust with your customers and encourage them to reach out when they have questions or concerns in the future. Here are a few examples of companies that are champions of social media support:
As 97% of the population owns a cell phone, mobile messaging is a great way to reach your customers when they’re on the go. It’s also convenient for them to get answers to their questions almost instantly. This is also one of the most direct and immediate ways to offer customer service.
This channel can be established by using messaging applications like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Viber, Telegrams, and other similar solutions. They are easy to install and free for customers. What’s more, there are over 3 billion mobile messaging app users globally, which makes this contact channel a good addition to your service stack.
Text messaging goes a step further. This mobile messaging solution comes as a built-in feature for all mobile phones and does not require any additional set-up or even an Internet connection to operate. More than two-thirds of buyers will use SMS to contact the support team.
While 81% of customers opt for using online chat to connect with a brand, only half of customer service teams implement this channel. Live chat is an online feature that allows customers to reach out with questions or concerns they may have.
To enable this customer contact channel, simply place a link to the chat platform directly on your website or blog pages.
In the example below, the live chat loads after a visitor has investigated the pricing page several times. This makes it easier for undecided users to receive personalized support.
This is a customer contact channel with great potential as it combines the advantages of real-time communication, 24/7 availability, and a written form of interaction.
It also allows keeping track of essential information and referring back when necessary (for both the service team and the customer).
A web form is a tool that lets you organize and manage customer support inquiries. These forms typically contain different sections, each of which is associated with a specific purpose.
Customers can fill out the fields and boxes with information about their issues. This information could be anything from “I forgot my password” to “I want to cancel my subscription.”
Such web forms integrated into different sections of your website can have different fields to fill in.
On TextMagic, we use simple web forms to route customer inquiries. Visitors can share their questions and issues by hitting the Help button in the lower right corner.
Another way to access the web form is by visiting the TextMagic Help Center page and clicking on Contact Us. In this case, the first section of the form provides solutions to common issues upfront.
Web forms are effective as they allow customers to submit their questions in an organized manner. This helps route questions to the right department and reduce their resolution time.
You can’t always be there to answer questions personally. But an FAQ page can. FAQs are an excellent way to provide your customers with answers to common questions in an organized and accessible way.
FAQ pages should be concise and easy to read. They should clearly explain what a customer can expect from your product or service and how they can deal with something that isn’t covered on the FAQ page itself.
FAQ pages can help you:
If your company follows a PLG (product-led growth) strategy, FAQ pages represent one of the best ways to help customers help themselves.
Seven in ten consumers try to resolve issues on their own before contacting the support team. However, just a third of companies provide users with self-service options, like a knowledge base, community forums, or FAQ pages. To be effective at customer support, it’s important to offer multiple avenues for customers to find answers on their own.
A self-service customer support portal available on a business website can go a long way to providing customers with the independence to solve common issues. Such a portal could include:
Our help center provides customers with a huge variety of resources, such as how-to articles, a FAQ section, and video tutorials.
Here’s why you should opt for creating a self-service customer support portal on your website:
Selecting the most effective contact channels without overwhelming your team or creating fragmented experiences can be difficult.
Here are the most important factors to consider when selecting a customer contact channel for your business.
Keep an eye on your competitors to see what is working for them:
All these questions will help you acquire a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t work in your industry.
Here are some ways you can get input from your audience to choose the right customer contact channels:
Remember that what makes a customer support channel effective is whether it’s the platform your leads and customers prefer using.
Auditing the customer contact channels you’re currently using can help determine where your strengths and weaknesses lie. There are a few steps to follow for this:
You can use analytics to compare results across different channels, like the number of customers reached and the number of messages sent per day. Also consider using heat mapping tools to record the users’ experience with channels, such as web forms.
This will give you a sense of which customer contact channels are performing better than others. You’ll also know where to focus your efforts for the maximum impact.
Decide on possible measures to make the improvements. For instance, if your customers typically need to wait a long time for a response from your support team or they try calling many times, you may have to increase the number of your staff. This brings us to the next point…
Customer contact channels can be expensive. It’s important to know what you’re getting into before you go all in. There are three main ways to estimate the cost of your customer support channel:
When you’re considering cost, keep in mind that there are many other factors that go into choosing a support channel besides just the price tag. The amount of time your team spends on support is a good indicator of the suitability and cost-effectiveness of a given channel.
Live chat, for example, is typically more expensive than email. However, it can also be more effective as it allows you to respond to customer inquiries instantly.
So, if you’re a small startup, using email as a customer support channel can be your most cost-effective option. To put it short, striking the balance between effectiveness and cost-effectiveness is the best way to go.
In today’s competitive market, customer support remains one of the main quality differentiators. Choosing the right customer contact channels is the first step to achieving a positive multi-channel customer experience.
Whatever support channels you choose, make sure you bring them together with an all-in-one communication platform like Touchpoint.
With Touchpoint, your team can provide contextual support on any channel (live chat, SMS, call, or email) without switching between different solutions and interfaces. All customer information, history of interactions, and previous conversations are stored securely and a few clicks away.
Raluca Mocanu is a copywriter at Touchpoint and began her content writing journey in 2016. She loves traveling, reading, on-stage drama and recently discovered a deep interest in psychology.
Join Urmo, our product manager, as he explains what AI means for customer support and how our team is incorporating it into the Touchpoint product.
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