What's the difference between customer service channels?
This article is an overview of pros and cons of customer service channels.

Self-service aka knowledge base

Pros:
  • Very fast response - users don't need to wait for anything, they just go to your site and find the answer.
  • Visualization - screenshots, videos and descriptive instructions, moar of it!
  • Low cost - does not require constant money investment.

Cons:
  • Lack of individual approach - you cannot address unique issues with generalised answers.
  • Management - updates are required from time to time (and better not forget about it).
  • Usability - if your self-service portal is difficult to use, no one is going to use it.

Live chat

Pros:
  • Quick reply time - should amount to 1-2 minutes.
  • High satisfaction - customers usually have a positive impression after a chat with your support team, even if their issue is nasty.
  • Simple to use.
  • Possibility to share files or links to graphic and video instructions.

Cons:
  • Busy hours - multitasking like Caesar during busy hours is a must.
  • Perfect wording - in live conversations your support heroes do not have time for being grammar nazi.

Email

Pros:
  • Cost effectiveness - utilizes every minute of your support heroes.
  • Customers are used to it.
  • Possibility to share files or links to graphic and video instructions.

Cons:
  • High reply time - allows 12-24hrs answer delay (or more, depending on how well you cope with remorseful thoughts).

Social networks

Pros:
  • Warm and friendly tone - allows building customer relations.
  • Public reply - you can turn situation from "lose" to "win" by publicly replying to disappointed customers. Others will see that you stand by your product.

Cons:
  • Reply time - it is normal for a business to take up to 12 hrs to answer, but the world of social media demands faster reaction. One unanswered angry comment can be seen by several potential leads. Or it can turn into several angry comments if someone decides to join the fray.


Phone

Pros:
  • Quick reply time.
  • Live conversation - grants better understanding of the problem.
  • Simple to use.


Cons:
  • Language - your call centre must gather native speakers.
  • High price - and native speakers cost good money.
  • Communication skills - in real-time conversations your support heroes have no chance to polish their answers.
  • Automation - your support reps also do not have time to pull up customer's order and conversation history.
Customer service
is the new marketing
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