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Business Tips

Customer Contact Channels & Their Key Benefits

April 19, 2021
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The customer journey refers to the customer’s life cycle in your sales funnel. After capturing the buyer’s attention, you need to fuel interest and stimulate action. It doesn’t stop at the first click!

In today’s on-demand economy, you need to reach out personally to every customer, no matter where they interact with your brand. This can be done by using customer contact channels.

Most customers contact your company because of an inconvenience. It is, therefore, a matter of necessity for your customers. As such, providing quality customer support is a must if you want to retain your customers. 

How do you turn an inconvenience into a positive and useful interaction for your customers? 

The answer is simple: by providing quality customer contact channels.

What Are the Customer Channels and Why Do Call Centers Use Several Different Ones?

Customer contact channels are communication mediums that customers can use to get in touch with companies. They can be either written, take the form of chat, vocal, or face-to-face.

The different customer channels are: 

  • Chat channels (Live web chat, Chatbots, Messenger Apps, Social media);
  • Written channels (Email, Post, Web forms);
  • Voice channels (Traditional Phone Calls, Web calling, Callbacks);
  • Face-to-Face channels (Video chat, In-store appointments).

Using several different customer channels is beneficial to companies. This is because you are offering customers the flexibility they require. Using a single customer contact channel will only be detrimental to your business. As different clients prefer different customer channels. This is why offering a multi-channel solution is the optimal solution.

Additionally, offering various customer channels increases your business possibilities. Increasing your business possibilities translates into improved customer satisfaction. And with satisfied customers, your sales will increase.

According to a survey conducted by The US Contact Center Decision Maker’s Guide, 60% of customers consider customer satisfaction as the most important priority for a call center. This means that call centers need to focus on customer satisfaction. A key element to doing this is to opt for a multi-channel system.

Types of Customer Contact Channels and Their Key Benefits

Chat channels (Live web chat, Chatbots, Messenger Apps, Social media)

Chat channels are incredibly effective customer contact channels. This is especially true for young people aged 18-34. Young people prefer to use chat channels since they are already used to social media texting. 

One of the key reasons behind that is that chat channels can provide instant answers. Hence, reducing the hold time compared to a phone call.

Moreover, this type of customer service channel provides clients with the familiarity they want. Since young customers are used to texting, chat channels provide them with the comfort they are used to.

Additionally, one of the key benefits to chat channels is 24/7 availability. This means that customers can get assistance at any time. 

Chat channels are also beneficial for businesses as they provide insights into customer website journeys. This can be useful as it makes it easier to collect customer data. Such data can be used to improve customer experience and satisfaction.

And since we are nowadays witnessing a technological revolution. Chat channels are no exception to this. Automated Chatbots are increasingly becoming a reliable chat channel.

Chatbots present an excellent alternative to human-powered chat channels. They are capable of dealing with multiple requests at once. They are also available 24/7 and provide immediate customer responses.

Chat channels

Written channels (Email, Post, Web forms)

Written channels are traditional customer service channels. While written channels are not the most effective customer channel, they remain essential. This is because the older generation is used to written channels and still relies on them.

The key benefits of written channels are:

  • Email: When an immediate answer is not required, email remains a very effective customer service channel. Emails are optimal for sharing news across an enterprise’s customer base.

One key benefit of emails is the flexibility that they offer. Agents can answers emails during breaks between two live-chat channels. Thus, improving the productivity of your customer support.

  • Post: Even if the post is not a very effective customer service channel. It still presents a major benefit. A handwritten letter is one of the most personal written channels.

Post is also most efficient when used for bills, invoices, and official customer correspondence.

  • Web forms: While web forms are quite similar to emails, there is a difference. With emails, your customers need to leave your website to write the email. 

Web forms rectify this, as you don’t need to leave the website to get customer support. This is a key benefit of this customer contact channel, as it decreases abandonment rates.

Additionally, when a customer writes a web form, he or she receives a confirmation receipt. This is especially beneficial, as it provides customers with valuable feedback.

Written channels

Voice channels (Traditional Phone Calls, Web calling, Callbacks)

While chat and written channels can be very effective customer channels, they cannot deal with urgent requests. This is where voice channels come into play. Traditional phone calls, web calling, and callbacks are all effective ways of dealing with urgent inquiries. This is why companies should always offer a voice channel.

The key benefits of Voice channels are:

  • Traditional phone calls: Traditional phone calls are some of the most efficient customer contact channels. 

Characterized by their tried and tested nature. Phone calls provide reliable customer service.

Traditional phone calls are especially popular among older generations (60+). This is why they are a must for every company.

  • Web call: Featuring WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) technology. Web calling offers an easy-to-use customer service channel. 

With a simple click-to-call button customers can engage in voice calls with an agent. This is a key benefit, as this can be done without leaving the website.

Web calls can also be initiated following a live web chat. This is useful for the company. As it provides the agent with necessary data before a web call is launched.

Moreover, web calling offers free support to customers. Since web calls don’t require customers to dial a costly landline number, clients will be more motivated to call for customer support. This can only increase customer satisfaction, therefore increasing revenue for the company.

  • Callbacks: Technically, a callback is no different than a traditional phone call. However, this customer contact channel presents a major advantage over the other voice channels. This is because, with callbacks, clients can request a call from the company at a time that suits them.

As such, calls back are a very effective way to reduce abandonment rates and waiting intervals. This will leads to increased customer satisfaction and retention. 

Voice channels

Face-to-face channels (Video chat, In-store appointments)

While chat, written and voice channels are all great customer service channels. Face-to-Face channels provide the most personalized customer experience.

Being the most sophisticated customer channels, video chat and In-store appointments are best suited for complex requests. They are also excellent at showing customer products and advertising them.

The key benefits of Face-to-Face channels are:

  • Video chat: Video chat takes customer support and service to a whole new level. This customer contact channel is particularly useful when a situation requires a more advanced explanation. 

Video chats are preferred by the younger generation, as they provide a social media-like experience. 

This type of customer channel is the most effective when dealing with difficult issues. For instance, if a customer is having trouble buying a product on your e-commerce store. A video chat can be used to explain step-by-step, as an agent can share their screen with the customer.

Video chats are also very beneficial during this pandemic. With physical retail stores being closed, video chats can be used to provide a similar customer experience online. This can be done by agents advertising products during a video call session.

  • In-store appointments: This type of customer contact channel provides the ultimate customer service experience. 

In-store appointments provide your customers with the comfort of being in your company’s physical environment. Thus allowing the customer to feel welcomed. Which will then increase customer support. Consequently, this will help shape a positive reputation for the company.

In-store appointments can be used for issues that could not be solved with the other customer contact channels. They can also be used to advertise products.

While video chats and in-store appointments are similar. The latter presents the advantage of providing a more luxurious and personalized experience. 

Face-to-Face channels

Which Contact Channels Does a Company Need to Provide? How to Figure it Out?

A study conducted by the CMO Council in partnership with Pitney Bowes in 2019, sought to identify what customer contact channels clients prefer to use when interacting with the companies they do business with. The results found that the top five customers channels were: 

  • Email (86% of respondents)
  • Traditional phone calls (65%)
  • Website (53%)
  • Chat channels (52%)
  • In-store appointments (48%)

What this survey suggests is that customers nowadays expect companies to provide multiple contact channels. This is why companies should invest in a multi-channel system. 

Moreover, when survey participants were asked which customer contact channels they can’t live without, they indicated two customer channels. These channels are traditional phone calls (28%) and In-store appointments (17%). 

What this part of the survey highlights is that customers prefer channels that provide pragmatic value. As such, companies should double down on traditional phone calls and In-store appointments. And while In-store appointments are harder to organize during this pandemic, video chats are a great alternative.

Additionally, when participants were asked which aspects are the most important in a customer channel. The top three aspects they identified were convenience (50%), reliability (45%), and speed (41%).

This means that any company that wants to improve its customer contact channels should focus on these three aspects.

Summary

Nowadays, we are living in an era of great technological advancement. This is also true for customer contact channels. With numerous customer channels available these days, companies might get confused. This is why implementing a multi-channel platform is the most optimal solution. 

Customers belong to different age categories. They also have different preferences and needs. What satisfies the needs of young people will not necessarily work for elders. Implementing different types of customer channels solves this. 

It does also provide companies with the diversity they need to improve customer satisfaction and retention.

If you are interested in implementing a high-quality multichannel contact center, you are welcome to contact us. Simply contact provides adequate solutions for all of your customer channel requirements.

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