5 Types of Customer Service
Posted on August 8, 2018 by Danny Leffel
Quality customer service is an essential component in the day-to-day operation of any company that wants to remain in business. Nowadays, dissatisfied customers have the power of social media at their fingertips to vent their frustrations about a poor service experience. What restaurant owner hasn’t cringed after seeing a negative review on Yelp? On the other hand, a satisfied customer will return again and again and happily refer your company to friends and strangers alike.
Employees on the front line who deal with customers face to face play a critical role in guaranteeing a positive customer experience. Servers in restaurants, firefighters and paramedics, and grocery store employees are a few of the many workers who can provide you with valuable feedback on what your customers want and need.
However, an effective customer support system offers multiple channels for customers to use to contact your company to get their needs met. Knowing your customer base intimately will help you determine which of the following types of customer service channels will be most effective in ensuring customer loyalty.
1. Self-Service Knowledge Base
Some customers are comfortable getting their questions answered by searching through a self-service knowledge base. These customers don’t need a lot of hand-holding. They want to be able to easily access the information they need for a quick answer to their questions. Moreover, there’s little to no wait time when the knowledge base is well organized and includes rich descriptions, images, videos, and instructions. A big plus for your company is that this channel doesn’t require a huge monetary investment like some of the other channels described below.
While customers can quickly access general information, a knowledge base may not have information that addresses their unique situations. You also need to keep the information up to date as company policies and procedures change. Despite these disadvantages, a well-conceived knowledge base gives your customer support staff the time they need to address customer concerns the knowledge base isn’t equipped to handle.
2. Social Media Support
Just about every company on the planet has a social media presence, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram, to name a few. As a result, customers have begun using a company’s social media accounts to get product- and service-related information, pose questions, and – yes – to complain. As a result, these accounts require a dedicated social media manager to make sure your customers’ concerns are promptly addressed.
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The biggest downside to social media as a support channel is that customers often complain about poor experiences they’ve had with a product or service. However, you can turn these situations into a “win” for both you and your customers by publicly addressing their complaints with honesty and diplomacy. Other customers will see that you care about them and are willing to take whatever steps are necessary to get their issues resolved.
3. Live Chat Support
Live chat offers is an excellent option for customers who want to speak with a human being to get their issues resolved, but who don’t necessarily want to use the phone or email. Depending on your chat hours of operation, a customer can get immediate support, often while in the middle of purchasing your product or service.
Recent research revealed that 73 percent of the customers who used live chat were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the experience. It can, therefore, be an effective means of increasing sales.
In order for this system to work well, your live chat agents must have excellent written communication skills and be able to successfully handle multiple inquiries during high-volume periods. And when chat isn’t available, you’ll need to provide customers with alternative channels to get their questions answered.
4. Email Support
Email is a fast and easy-to-use way for customers to get their questions answered. It is cost-effective in that it only requires an email address where customers can contact you and support staff to answer their questions. Email also lets your support team include links to your website and attach files that provide the specific information your customers are searching for.
Of course, customers don’t want to wait forever for a response, so you’ll need to get back to them within 24 hours of their initial contact. And by all means, don’t be one of the 62 percent of companies that don’t even bother to respond to emails they receive from their customers.
5. Phone Support
Phone support is probably the oldest form of customer service available today. Whether you have a fully staffed call center or just a few individuals responding to customer calls, they need to know your products and services inside out and have excellent oral communication skills. Your phone support team also needs to be courteous, patient and attentive to customer needs.
You’ll also need a dedicated Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system for phone support to work well. While IVR systems are able to route calls to the department where customers will get the best answers, an over-reliance on automated voice response may turn off customers who want more human-to-human interaction.
The number and type of customer service channels you choose will depend on many factors, including the nature of your business, who your customers are, and how much money you have to spend. A multi-channel approach guarantees your customers have a way of contacting you day or night to get their questions answered. Be sure to communicate your customer service goals to your team so everyone’s on the same page.