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Types of Customer Support: Introduction

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Types of Customer Support: Introduction

We look at different types of customer support and how to go about selecting the best option for your company.

One way to keep your customers happy is by establishing a well-organised customer support branch in your business. Customer service is an ever-changing sector, so you must be up to date with the latest developments in this field. There are various types of customer support solutions a company can choose from.

The customer support portal system has been evolving for a long time. Every upcoming brand aims to be consumer-centric, claiming to care more about their customers than making profits.

A solid proof of a company’s interest in its consumers is the quality of its customer service. But what is customer service, and why is it such a big deal? First, let us answer this query.

Consumers are responsible for defining the brand and keeping businesses afloat, so it is crucial to give them what they want. Customer support does just that by answering queries and offering the best experience to people. 

Happy and satisfied customers are the main ingredient for a successful business.

One loyal customer will indirectly market and promote your brand to other people. Similarly, an unhappy customer expressing dissatisfaction with your brand will drive potential leads away, affecting your business negatively. 

This blog aims to familiarise readers with all the customer support types and aid while selecting the ideal one.

What are the methods of customer support?

As the term suggests, customer service focuses on assisting those customers who are either using or planning to use a company’s product or services.

Hence, a business must first understand the needs of its customers before anything else. A need in the business world is either related to the product or service. 

A service need is where the customer support department plays its part.

People are always hunting for new products, information, and answers. The customer support department is responsible for providing solutions to customer queries.

The support teams must empathise with the customers and establish transparency because it improves consumer satisfaction.  

Now we are familiar with the basic ideas of customer service. Let us delve into the various types of customer service.

Self-serve customer support

The best way to ensure the staff is not overloaded in the customer support industry is to allow people to find solutions independently.

Self-service is one of the types of customer support which does not need a customer service representative. It is ideal for customers who want to solve simple issues on their own, quickly.

Self-service allows customers to conduct their very own research on the company’s web pages and find the right answer. These customers prefer to educate themselves instead of depending on others.

The “frequently asked questions (FAQs)” of any website is an example of the self-serve section of that brand. Customers can find the commonly asked questions on this page and resolve their queries.

This is really useful as 80% of customer queries are from these frequently asked questions.

By regularly updating this section, you can ensure your customers don’t raise support tickets. It would take a significant amount of load off your customer support team and give them more time to focus on complex tasks. 

It is only appropriate to have a self-serve option for some people. Besides, some software can segregate frequently asked questions and other relevant customer data, making it easy to divert some traffic away from customer support representatives.

The best part about a self-serve option is that you can forget about it until it needs an update, which is a lot more simple than answering the same question frequently. 

Live chat service as a type of customer support

While the FAQ page is an ideal customer support method, most times, what happens is that customers don’t prefer going through the trouble of researching. Finding their questions takes time and patience.

That’s when a live chat service would be beneficial.

People are in a hurry to resolve their issues, and live chat customer support provides quick answers. Live chat is also useful when your customers have complex queries.

Customers need an expert’s help, a human agent who can solve their problem instantly. In today’s competitive atmosphere, every business must have a live chat support system to serve its customers better. 

A particular icon on your website will direct the customer to an agent or chatbot responsible for guiding them to the solution. The only disadvantage is that agents must be present at all times. Many times, agents miss a couple of customers, thus creating a bad image of the company. 

In this case, you also need to train your customer support agents to answer customer queries correctly, and such training is expensive.

Despite all the challenges, the advantage of speed in a live chat setting during business hours makes it ideal for several customers. At times, a live chat service can also function as a marketing opportunity.

Suggested Reading: Live Chat vs Conversational AI Support 

Customer support via social media

Social media has taken the internet by storm and will expand in the coming years. Social media platforms used to be a place dominated by children and young adults until the world realised their utility as far as marketing and outreach are concerned. 

Now it is a business haven, so clearly it can offer customer support. Some platforms such as Facebook enable users to leave business reviews, making it seem like a commercial space. 

However, customer support via social media is not an easy feat.

Customers take their support issues to social media to get a faster response. This is a tricky situation because if you don’t solve the query quickly and accurately, it can negatively impact your company.

You will have to keep an eye on all your social media platforms to deal with queries because they may present them through comments, direct messages, or even alternate posts.

A business needs to establish monitoring software for all the sites. These social media listening platforms notify your team whenever your brand is mentioned in any message over any of the channels.

However, no matter how good your monitoring software is, you will likely miss some complaints. And again, you need to hire and train a team of agents who would be dedicatedly managing such queries on your social media sites. 

Email customer support

Among all the types of customer service, you might think of this one as old-fashioned, but remember that it works well.

Like most customer service types, you will need an individual or a team responsible for handling the customers’ queries and complaints. This way of customer service will prevail as long as people have email ids. 

It is ideal to use email as a platform when the queries are too complicated for a live chat.

Sometimes customers have detailed questions, and an agent on live chat does not have the time to attend to it. However, it is only effective when the customer has spare time to wait because it might take the service agent a long time to reply to the mail.

The average reply time for emails is around 24-48 hours. Additionally, there is no guarantee the query will be resolved in one go. Following up is a common practice.

This method is suitable for old folks who find it hard to understand modern technology and applications, so conversing via email seems more familiar. 

It is easy to begin email customer service because all you need is an email address. You can place it in the “contact us” section of your website and highlight the email used in case of queries. 

Mostly, customers will not prefer writing an email unless the issue is serious because most people do not want the hassle of writing an email when immediate service is available.

You can say emails are mostly dead. Many companies often ignore their emails, giving email support a bad name in the customer service sector. 

Suggested Reading: Email vs Conversational AI Support

Customer care via phone

It is the most common among the various types of customer support because it is affordable and accessible.

Most people have a phone, and they know the simple functions of their device. Everyone knows how to make a phone call, and some people find it ideal to talk with a customer service agent on the phone. 

It guarantees quick solutions and a personal touch to your services. Due to modern web-based solutions, it is easy to install a phone support system in any business.

Like email support, with a toll-free number, phone support makes it possible to cater to a wider audience (spread across the world), thus increasing the fanbase of your brand. 

People prefer to establish direct contact with the expert when they want a quick and immediate solution. Phone support grants the customer more confidence in their issues getting resolved, thanks to direct human contact.

However, phone customer service has its own downfalls. Phone support is outsourced to a call centre or a contact centre, and many customers can’t get through to an agent.

On the other hand, even if a customer’s call is transferred to an agent, they get redirected to another agent and have to repeat their query. And this leads to a bad experience during customer support.

Suggested Reading: Phone vs Conversational AI Support

Interactive voice response (IVR) system

IVR is a type of customer service utilising a telephony system to interact with customers.

It is an old-school method, but it is effective enough to still be in use today. IVR can achieve great results for small businesses and startups that cannot afford modern customer service solutions. 

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system is an automated system that directs your customers to the ideal department. It operates via a dial pad, keypad, and voice recognition systems.

If you have ever come across a dialogue beginning with “press 1 for…”, then you have had the first-hand experience of dealing with IVR customer support. 

This method is tedious and futile for large businesses because the menus in IVR are too complex. However, a well-organized IVR system can do wonders for the customer service department in your company. 

IVR is effective if you plan on dividing the customer service department into small sections, each responsible for handling different types of questions. It is effective because a single agent is not knowledgeable enough to tackle every query.  

One drawback of IVR is that it cannot manage the high volume of calls or an exceptional query.

The IVR has a reputation for losing customers due to the long wait when handling too many customers. Remember that another person is waiting in line each time you are tending to one customer.

IVR is still relevant because it is easy to install. There are three steps involved in the installation process. 

1. Upload your audio files

It is the recording that should play when people call on your customer service number. Ensure that this recording does not seem dull and boring. 

2. Design a menu 

You have to assign options to numbers from zero to nine. You can use a combination of numbers and not fit everything in single digits. Some companies also use symbols on the dial pad for additional options, but you must ensure that this menu is well-organized and easy to remember. 

3. Add the finishing strokes

It includes a welcoming and ending message, settings to disconnect the call after a few non-responsive minutes. You also have to match the phone calls with the working hours of your customer service department. 

Suggested Reading: IVR vs Conversational AI Support

Conversational AI for customer support

Thanks to natural language processing and voice-to-text technology developments, companies have a new, conversational method to support customers.

Conversational AI chatbots innovation is multifunctional. It can store large amounts of data because it uses a cloud computing system. 

Its advanced technology allows your company to carry out complex functions such as sentiment analysis and user behaviour analysis.

Such leaps in technology make it possible to develop artificial agents. These agents or bots can understand human speech and carry out long conversations with the customers. They will separate the crucial parts in a conversation and answer accordingly. 

These conversational chatbots are faster, reliable, and secure.

They combine the forces of self-service and live chat support to provide a seamless customer experience.

Conversational AI can understand L1 and L2 level questions and in multiple languages. If the question is too complex, the query automatically gets assigned to a human agent in the right department.

You can say it’s an advanced form of an IVR system as the user doesn’t have to manually select options to reach the right person to help them resolve the query.

The AI behind these chatbots can also be trained to understand user sentiment and respond with empathy and understanding. This makes the customer service a whole lot better.

As mentioned above, conversational AI chatbots are also multilingual, enabling international communication without hiring a language specialist. 

And if customers are not comfortable typing, they can leave voice messages. This makes them more inclusive and quicker.

Suggested Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Conversational AI: How it Works, Use Cases, Examples, Challenges

How to select the best customer support type for your business?

It is not easy to select a single mode of consumer support when there are so many options available in the market. 

Your choice should depend on the stage of business, customer preference and its current success. There are other factors worth consideration while picking the methods of customer support. It will enable customers from all regions to find your company satisfactory. 

Even though your decision must be a judgement call, two types of customer support guarantee success every time. 

Omnichannel customer support

These days, potential customers are scattered all over the internet. It includes all the social media sites, commercial platforms, and everything in between. As a business, it is crucial to expand one’s reach as much as possible.

The possibility of missing out on any customer query creates the need for an omnichannel customer service system.

The idea behind such an arrangement is the concern that some people might want to reach out to you via different modes, including offline platforms. 

Some people do not bother to get in touch if your customer service channel is not present on their desired platform. Hence, settling with a single means of customer support is asking for loss in the 21st century. 

A study conducted by Dimensional Research mentioned that 28% of customers reported that having alternatives for communication allow for a better consumer experience. 27% of the participants said that the lack of a customer service option on their preferred channel resulted in a bad experience. 

This study is proof that omnichannel services should get adopted by businesses aiming to satisfy their customers. Several other types of research are coming to the same results and speculations. Thus, make sure that you aim high when opening a customer service department. 

Omnichannel services also point towards establishing offline channels, so old-school options such as IVR are not out the window. It is ideal to adapt to new technology, but integrating new with old is innovative and inclusive.

What’s important is that your customer support method meets your customer’s preference. For this, you need to identify what your customers want and how you can serve them better.

At the end of the day, providing excellent customer service is the goal.

In short, modern methods such as chatbots could be coupled with more traditional types of customer service to ensure the best outcomes. Place a self-service option along with an easy way to reach your customer service representatives, and your fanbase will have all its queries answered accurately on time. 

In single-channel customer service, a large crowd will feel excluded. Remember that your company will appear more inclusive, empathetic, and modern if there are alternatives for customer service.

React and approach 

A business must decide its style of interacting with its customers, which is either passive or active. Traditionally, the customer service sector has been cold, acting only when a customer approached a company to resolve an issue. 

The only function of customer service was answering people, but this approach has to change in today’s world. Brands go to great lengths to market their products. A business must adopt an active (in other words, proactive) approach to tackle this competition. 

Never wait for customers to approach you, so reach out and interact with them.

Now you may ask why proactive customer support is important? Because, this approach to customer support shows that a company cares about its customers.

Conclusion

As we mentioned before, potential customers are everywhere, and there are many types of customer support you can provide.

Customer service can open several opportunities for business growth, provided it gets executed the right way. Selecting the ideal types of customer service for your business has to do with scale, budget and customer preference.

Verloop.io is the leading provider of conversational AI customer support. Our AI is trained on 2 billion customer queries to ensure the AI accurately understands the intent behind the customer’s question and answers them quickly and on their preferred channel.

Talk to our experts and get a demo of our platform.

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