If you want to improve the support you are offering your customers, you need to be on the channels where your customers are. This mean that if you customers are Twitterholics, you need to have stellar social media support. If they want to chat to someone before making a purchase, your website needs to support live chat.
By learning about the different channels available and which ones your customers prefer, you can start to form a plan and focus your limited resources on offering excellent customer support.
Here are five preferred customer service channels that every business should consider:
1. Hop on the live chat trend
Live Chat consistently comes up as the top preferred customer service channel. Microsoft's 2016 State of Multichannel Customer Service Report found that 64% of people polled use live chat for customer support on a regular basis. An emarketer.com survey found that 62% of respondents were likely to return to a website that offers live chat and a further 38% said they made their purchase due to the chat session itself.
Why is live chat such a popular customer service channel?
The online chat system is a convenient and instant way for customers to find out information without the pain of having to dial a number and navigate through the maze of numeric options.
With a live chat option, you can tap into consumers pain points while increasing sales at the same time. By making your team available to answer any questions you can eliminate bounce rates and ensure customers make it all the way to check out.
2. Email support is NOT dead
Despite some rumours that email is dying, it is still very much a part of our daily lives. Whether it's an endless supply of promotional updates, spam or actual work, it takes up a fair amount of our time, and it's still well alive and kicking.
According to Microsoft's report, email still ranks high in terms of satisfaction for support even though it is not known for its rapid rate of response. However, when you consider that 91% of consumers use email every single day, it makes sense they would opt for that channel especially if their query is not time sensitive.
3. Have a presence on social networks
In the last decade, we have witnessed the rise of consumer support via social media. More and more people expect to find brands across the various channels and expect them to be available to answer their questions and complaints.
But just how important is it to have a social media support? According to one Gartner study, companies who ignore support requests on these platforms see an average churn rate that is 15% higher than companies who don't.
That alone is a pretty strong reason to include social media in your customer service strategy.
For example, when Esai Velez flew JetBlue airlines, and his seatback TV gave him nothing but static, he took to Twitter to complain. In 23 minutes, his complaint was addressed, and he tweeted out: "One of the fastest and better customer service: @JetBlue! Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving."
By dealing with a complaint in a prompt manner, JetBlue managed to keep a customer from straying by delighting them with stellar service. If they did not have a customer support team checking their Twitter mentions, this story might have ended with Esai never flying with JetBlue again.
4. Manage phone support
Customer support via the telephone may be old school, but it's not going anywhere.
Phone-based customer support still rates high among consumers, with 81% using it on a regular basis.
The reason for its popularity? According to eDigitalRearch, customers don't feel safe giving out sensitive information such as their finances on any other platform. This is backed up by Smart Insights who show that over 70% of people prefer telephonic customer support for financial queries.
So while phone support may be losing ground to other preferred customer service channels every year, it still has a place in your contact centre options.
5. Forums or message boards
If you are looking to think out of the box with your customer support - consider message boards. Online forums are places on the internet where your customers come together to socialise. Think of them as the coffee shops of the Internet.
Depending on your niche, you might find that you have shared communities where many of your customers are active. This can be large sites forum sites like Reddit or specific ones like FlyerTalk or Slack Exchange.
Once you have identified these shared communities, consider opening up a dedicated thread where customers can post support questions. It will make you stand out from competitors and give your customers a more convenient way to contact you that is not sending an email or picking up a phone.
There you have it, five of the most effective and preferred customer service channels you should know about. Whichever you choose, the goal is to be where your customers are in order to reduce their effort.
By offering support channels where you customers are active, you can make asking that question much easier and keep them moving along the buyer's journey smoothly.