Effect of telephonic customer support vs email support vs live chat support


Customer support service in the past would predominantly be offered over telephone. Remember the days when your mobile service provider would gift you a ‘Hiddenly-Charged Caller Tune’ ? What would invariably be your response? ‘A complaint call to the customer care’!

You are well aware of the process that would ensue – and the patience it would test!

Yet, telephonic customer support provides the undeniable advantage of emotional subtext. A one-to-one telephonic conversation feels as good as an upfront discussion, and hence allows one to be quite persuasive. This form of communication is also particularly useful to those who aren’t too comfortable documenting their queries or grievances.

Meanwhile, ‘Email’ and ‘Live Chat’ are becoming increasingly popular as channels of customer support; and both, have their advantages, as well as disadvantages:

1. RESPONSE TIME: When it comes to the response time, ‘Live Chat’ is obviously the quickest. Besides, a customer care executive can handle multiple conversations simultaneously via chat – which also makes this medium the most efficient, in terms of resource utilization. Emails, on the other hand, needn’t be answered immediately. This might result in a delayed response; especially if there’s a fair build up.

2. FIRST CONTACT RESOLUTION: Emails provide customers the ability to be very elaborate on a query or complaint. You can support your message with evidences, references etc. Thus, there is a pretty high possibility of First Contact Resolutions with emails; provided, your message is completely understood. This level of ‘clarity’ may be absent on a Live Chat, but it always allows plenty of room for clarification!

3. READY-MADE ANSWERS: Executives make use of templates and scripted conversations in both chat and email communications. While this reduces the time spent on addressing individual issues, it certainly lacks the ‘personalized attention’ of phone support.

4. RECORDS: While most voice calls are recorded by customer care centres, customers often do not do the same themselves. Moreover, if a customer does so, without prior notice, he/she may end up in a legal tussle. The customer is hence left with nothing to refer back to when later dealing with the problem he/she originally called about. E-mails and chat transcripts, on the other hand, can be easily saved and alluded to whenever needed.

It may be concluded that each of the above channels has its own share of merits and demerits. It would thus be in the best interest of any business organization to offer their customer support parallelly via telephone, email and chat.

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