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We’re Listening: Customers Still Want Phone Support!

In these times where customer support is often provided via live chat or even chatbots, we may be tempted to conclude that phone support is no longer needed. However, the customers spoke and we listened: customers still want phone support!

When a customer truly needs help right away, they don’t want to have to deal with chatbots, complex phone menus, or emails. They still want to receive real help from a real person. Before going over the reasons why phone support is still important, let’s briefly define what customer support is and why it’s so important.

What is Customer Support?

Simply stated: Customer support is helping customers overcome challenges while using your product or service. It typically involves solving technical issues such as when a customer needs help understanding how to use a product or service, or when something goes wrong. But customer support isn’t only limited to problem-solving. It also includes any way of supporting a customer throughout their journey. It is a very important part of not only serving but also retaining your customers.

Ways to Provide Customer Support 

There are many ways to provide customer support and this will vary according to your sector. Some examples include:

  • Helpful website content
  • Live chat
  • Chatbot
  • Email
  • Social media
  • Phone or video calls

It is important to establish a consistent presence and prompt response system in your chosen channels so your customers will know how to contact you when they need additional information or have an urgent issue that needs to be resolved.  

While it isn’t necessary to be available on all of these channels, studies have shown that phone support is still a must – even for tech-savvier Gen-Z and Millenials!

Why Phone Support is Still Important to Customers

More than 76 percent of all consumers prefer the traditional medium of phone calls to reach customer support. Another surprising statistic: while social media is a pervasive channel of communication for friends and family, it is the least used customer support channel for all generations. Let’s go over the main reasons phone support is still important, and here to stay. 

  1. Human Touch – Let’s not underestimate the importance of human contact! A friendly, empathetic voice on the other line humanizes your business. As we discussed in a previous blog, while technology can be helpful for easy solutions or quick access to information, companies still need to be prepared to handle various scenarios that require different levels of emotional intelligence. In the words of customer service expert Shep Hyken: “You can’t automate the human relationship. You can’t digitize it. You can’t go all tech with no connection.” For example, if a customer is unhappy or frustrated – this can be read not only by the words they say but by their vocal cues. In this way, phone interactions are an opportunity to turn the situation around by listening calmly, expressing sympathy, and then offering a solution. 
  1. Timely and Complete Resolution – When it comes to more complex issues, customers prefer to speak with a real human who can diagnose the situation and resolve it promptly. If a support representative cannot resolve the issue, then the problem can be delegated to the right department (such as technical support) or escalated to a supervisor or manager. In this type of situation, follow-up is very important to ensure the issue has been resolved to the customer’s complete satisfaction. Customers can let us know about their overall support experience, which brings us to the next important point…
  1. Customer Feedback –  Phone communication is a very important way to collect and retain customer feedback. Customers will let us know what we’re doing well and – more importantly –  where we can improve our product or service. In this competitive marketplace, it’s very important to take consumer feedback – negative or positive – very seriously and see it as an opportunity to build on what’s going well and improve what isn’t. It can also protect the reputation of your company by giving customers a way to express their frustration about an issue other than via online reviews.
  1. Knowing Your Customer – All interactions – especially in-person and phone interactions – give us an opportunity to get to know our customers. This in turn gives us the opportunity to not only provide more personalized service but to tailor experiences according to your customer’s preference. When customers feel that they are known, valued, and heard, they are more likely to remain loyal to your business

In conclusion, even with AI and all the highly-developed forms of non-human support available today – customers still prefer phone support. When a whopping 93% of consumers say they are likely to make repeat purchases with companies that offer great support, it makes business sense to invest in call centers with well-trained customer support teams. This will ensure that your business provides outstanding service and support – with a human touch!

Additional resources:

Emotional Intelligence in The Age of Automation

There is More to Customer Support than Just Answering Questions

Why Soft Skills are an Important Part of Employee Training

8 Examples of Effective Listening

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Customer Service Institute of America