Regardless of the product or service that you sell, your brand needs quality customer service. There are multiple customer service channels to choose from depending on your target audience and the structure of your business. Some companies might just need a simple phone or email account, while others will have entire call centers to offer support. Keep reading to learn about the common types of customer support and the various channels open to your brand.
What Are Proactive and Reactive Support?
While there are many channels to choose from when offering customer care, there are two main types of customer service to keep in mind: proactive and reactive support.
Proactive customer support occurs when the company takes steps to solve customer problems before they occur, or before they worsen. It also serves to prevent customers from abandoning the company before they complete their purchases. For example, an airline can offer proactive customer support by alerting passengers when their flight has been delayed so they don't spend hours sitting at the airport. They could also be proactive by rebooking some passengers on different flights.
Reactive customer support occurs when the customer already experiences a problem. In this case, the customer reaches out to the company and the customer care team needs to solve their issues. For example, if a retailer ships the wrong dress size to a customer, they will need to reactively issue a refund and ship the correct size.
Most companies offer a mixture of proactive and reactive customer care through their various communication channels.
5 Types of Customer Service
The digital world has opened up new channels to improve the customer experience, though some people still prefer the traditional methods of customer care. Below are five different types of customer service and how they can create a seamless overall experience for your brand.
1. Self-Service Knowledge Base
Oftentimes, your customers don't want to contact your support team. However, this doesn't mean they don't need your help. A self-service knowledge base allows you to answer customer questions through a hub of information. Your knowledge base may come in the form of a Frequently Asked Questions page or in a forum where customers and admins help each other.
While this is a form of reactive customer care, it can proactively solve problems before the customer needs to directly call your team.
2. Social Media Support
Social media has grown as a popular customer support channel over the past decade. Considering that 80% of people use social media to engage with brands, it's easy to develop a connection with customers that can help your customer support.
Social media is also a preferred option for brands with a younger customer base. However, it is starting to grow with older consumers, as well. As a whole, 54% of customers say they would prefer to solve a problem over social media than through phone and email. This means that training your social media team on quality customer care goes a long way.
3. Live Chat Support
Live chat has become one of the most popular solutions for customers in the past few years. Its real-time results are the main reason for the high rates of customer satisfaction. In fact, 79% of customers say they prefer chat support because of the immediate response, and live chat support as a whole has a satisfaction rate of 92%. Brands that invest in this service option need to be ready to respond quickly, otherwise, they may isolate their customers.
4. Email Support
While customers enjoy live chat because of its immediate results, there are also benefits to other forms of customer care, like email support. For example, customers can contact companies via email at any time of day. If they have a problem at night, they can send an email knowing that it will get addressed the next day. Email is also easier than phone support because communication is written and documented. Customers can send over receipts or share photos of the products so the customer care team can see the issue.
When done well, some brands can respond to email messages within an hour, speeding up the pace of this customer service option.
5. Phone Support
Phone support is one of the older forms of customer support, if only because phones existed before the internet. Phone support is often used to solve complex problems that can't easily be resolved in a knowledge-base or chat. It is also typically faster than email. That being said, there are some drawbacks to brands using this. Companies need a call center of people who can answer these calls, and wait times can increase if these centers aren't properly staffed.
That said, there are two types of phone support that brands can use: live answering services and interactive voice responses. Live answering services utilize a real customer service team to answer calls. Meanwhile, interactive voice responses provide information through a series of cues from the customer. Most brands use a combination of both. The robotic interactive voice system will ask a few basic questions and then provide the information to the live support staff.
Understanding Multichannel Support
Multichannel support is the process of adding multiple customer support options for people to choose from. As you can see from the insights above, different people prefer different customer service options. While some people might feel comfortable chatting with a bot or reaching out on social media, others may want to call the company directly for help. The more diverse your customer service offerings, the higher the chances that your customers will be happy with your process. This leads to higher retention rates and a stronger business.
Additionally, many customers engage with brands in multiple ways throughout the customer care experience. They might start with an online conversation and then move to a phone call or email. These multiple customer service touches are essential to guiding customers to their ideal solutions.
The best way to choose which customer service channels you need is to know your audience. If your brand invests in what they want and works carefully to solve their problems, then you may start to retain more customers.