Support team management

Customer Service Channels: Quick Guide to Picking the Right Ones

It is easy to get lost in the myriad of available customer service channels. Some believe that phone support is king, while others declare the death of it. Live chat is gaining ground, but it’s still living side by side with emails.

Which customer service channels are the best for your company? Should you shut down any of your current ones?

A part of the answer lies in your personal taste and preference. For example: do you want to give your customers the feeling of security that a phone number does, or do you want to use the newest solutions like live chat?

However, too often, decisions are made based on these subjective opinions only. To get a clear picture of the best customer service channels that suit your needs, you need to look at these aspects together with real data and your customer support goals.

Here’s how.

Are your customer service channels cost-efficient?

Just like with all areas of business, you should aim to achieve the best results with the lowest cost. So, to understand which customer service channels are the most cost-efficient in your company, start by calculating their price:

  • Cost Per Conversation (CPC) tells you the average amount of money you spend on each customer interaction. It divides the total cost of operating your team by the total number of conversations, and gives you the average CPC across all support platforms. Calculate your average CPC for each channel separately to find out your most and least expensive channels. Track CPC over time to see how the number changes with new trends disrupting the support scene.
  • However, you should not look at your CPC in isolation. See how it relates to your Conversion rate, Retention rate, and Customer Lifetime Value (LTV). In other words, look at how much it costs you to convert a customer or to retain one in different channels. Sometimes the more costly conversations come with the highest retention rates and LTVs. In this case, the expense might be justified. Read more about the most important customer service metrics.

When you have figured out how much your conversations cost in different channels and which platforms tend to bring the best results, you will have quite a clear picture of what works for you. For example, if phone support is your most expensive support platform, but it also converts the most users to paying customers without spending their LTV, you should probably keep your lines open.

Whenever you notice that the results of the most expensive platform are going down and other cheaper channels are taking over, it is time to consider abandoning the costly means of support. Sometimes it’s a simple numbers game.

Which channels should you add to your customer service?

When considering which new support platforms to put into use, start by figuring out what you want to achieve. Bear in mind that excellent customer service is not about implementing all the possible customer service channels; it is about picking the right ones for your company.

Find the areas you want to improve, and set the right goals that will get you there. All customer service channels have their pros and cons that you should consider:

  • Time metrics like Average Handle Time and First Response Rate (FRT) drop dramatically with live chat, especially when combined with chatbots. For example, Autodesk reported a drop from $15-200 with human agents to $1 per query with virtual assistants. They also saw a cut in FRT from 38 hours to 5.4 minutes for most tier 1 inquiries.
  • Quality metrics like Customer Satisfaction Score and Internal Quality Score are often boosted by phone calls and, even more so, by video chats. The personal touch and the screen sharing opportunities that the latter platform provides will make the interactions efficient and result in higher quality results. And, customers love it, too. According to Talkdesk, 36% of customers would like to use video chat.

Knowing which qualities of your customer service you want to improve will help you focus on the right channels. If most of your phone support is used for giving simple frontline answers, consider replacing it with live chat, possibly with a chatbot.

If you are struggling with long email threads, you might benefit from phone support. This will probably give a nice boost to your CSAT, too, as emails tend to have lower customer satisfaction scores.

Whichever channel you are planning to use, make sure that you have enough people to cover the load. For example, beware that most agents are able to handle 2-3 live chats simultaneously, while a phone call would require their full attention.

Take a look at your Conversation volume and Tickets Per Customer to understand how many tickets you receive every month and which proportion of your customer base tends to open new cases. Combined with your company’s growth plans and statistics, volume analytics will help you plan ahead for months and maybe even longer.

There is no single customer service channel that everyone should use these days. Live chat is trending, and social media is playing an essential role for many companies, but that does not mean that these are the best solutions for everyone.

Calculating the real costs and outcomes will give a new perspective to the discussion. If you have not been tracking your Cost Per Conversation and compared it with Conversion/Retention rates and Customer Lifetime Values so far, you may be surprised about what you find out.

If you feel the need to search for new platforms, pick those that align best with your customer service goals. Surely, you can let your gut feeling play a part in this decision. Just keep an eye on the channel’s performance to make sure it’s cost-efficient (enough).

So, the good news is that you don’t have to implement all the most popular customer service channels - just the right ones for you! And, you can use the conversation review tool Qualitista to make sure you provide top-notch customer service across all support platforms.


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