Phone vs. live chat, understand the pros and cons to improve customer support. Read on to learn about an integrated solution every modern online business should consider implementing—omnichannel support.
In today’s world of 24/7 access, building a reliable and responsive customer support channel is crucial for every online business. When your customers are making purchases without in-person assistance, customer support acts as the representative of the entire company. Impeccable customer service assists consumers and fosters a higher conversion rate of leads. In a 2021 study, Microsoft stated that “90% of Americans consider customer service as a factor in deciding whether or not to do business with a company.”
We can’t emphasize this truth enough: customer support is imperative to the customer service experience and your bottom line. Sometimes, it’s even more important than the product or service itself. And often, it’s the difference between company success and struggle.
This understanding poses the question: phone vs. live chat, which is better for improving customer support? Short answer: both! Both of these customer support channels work to achieve the same goals. It all comes down to which best suits your unique business model. They are also designed to work in tandem, so utilizing both phone support and live chat can work wonders for your company. So, if you are considering outsourcing сustomer support, go for both channels.
Both of these systems deliver immediate responses to customers, and many online platforms choose to incorporate them together. While the two offer similar services, they have key differences. Before you invest in either, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of live chat support and phone support.
Live Chat Support: Pros and Cons
Live chat enables customers to have real-time, fully digital conversations with support agents. Embedding live chat software allows for the exchange of dialogues, links, and images. The pros and cons of live chat are as follows:
Pro: Instant to customers
Delayed communication is one of the main qualms customers have about shopping online. Live chat support tackles this dilemma with ease. Potential customers can reach out to live chat support agents with their questions and concerns and expect instant replies. This immediate access to company staff smooths and authenticates the buying experience, prompting consumers to leave satisfied and return for future business.
Pro: Reduces anxiety and stress of phone conversations
Not every potential customer is comfortable with, or capable of, phone conversations. Many people struggle to communicate verbally. It’s important to provide readily accessible, inclusive channels for all of your customers. Not to mention, customers may only have a single, short-answer question. Waiting on hold for a fifteen-second conversation doesn’t exactly translate to a forward-thinking company. As a result, potential customers abandon their carts. By introducing a live chat option to your platform, you enable leads to interact with your staff seamlessly and stress-free.
Pro: More affordable
Live chat software is either powered by artificial intelligence (AI) or staff members with limited skill sets. It’s important to note that this does not diminish the customer experience. Live chat support employees are efficient! They cost less because they don’t need to possess skills like native-level language proficiency or public speaking.
Cons: May feel impersonal to some users
Many potential customers (especially senior citizens) find live chat impersonal. They often find following instructions via chat confusing. As we’ve all experienced in our personal lives, tone can easily be lost between screens. If the support agent isn’t careful, they can appear rude and unsympathetic towards the customer. So, when choosing the best live chat support outsourcing provider, pay attention to the training and professional development of customer support agents.
Cons: Some programs may not be mobile friendly
Most live chat software is designed for laptops and desktops. They may lose some of their functionalities when accessed via mobile phones. As the percentage of mobile users grows daily, this can pose a major issue. However, with some adjustments, live chat functions can be made to be mobile-friendly and ensure great customer service.
Cons: Some customers don’t like canned responses
A significant drawback of live chat is canned responses. Many leads find live chat support robotic, unintuitive, and frustrating. It happens when the software relies too heavily on AI. Not getting the right response can make customers feel unheard and, again, abandon their shopping carts.
Phone Support: Pros and Cons
Technology’s forward march has made human lives easier and more connected than ever. It’s transformed the way we interact with others, especially across long distances. Social media platforms, email, and instant messaging have digitized communication to reach anywhere on the globe at the touch of a button. However, good old phone conversations still hold an important place in customer service. These lines of communication are here to stay, regardless of technological innovation. This is the main reason why call center outsourcing is booming today. However, just like its counterpart, phone support has advantages and disadvantages.
Pro: Offers more personal connection with customers
Phone support is more personal. Communication rests on the efforts to get each other’s point across. It’s far easier for customers to explain their nuanced questions or expectations to agents who can use tone and context to connect the dots. Phone support also builds credibility, as the customer is talking to a real person in real time.
Pro: Better for complex issues
Phone support is the go-to solution for customers who are trying to tackle complex issues. Some complex issues also require collecting private customer information, which many don’t feel comfortable doing online. As customers expect empathy and tailored problem-solving from real people, most of them rely on phone support for complex issue resolutions. Call center management is supposed to accentuate the importance of empathy.
Pro: Call recordings provide more in-depth analysis
Every call made to support is a window of opportunity for online businesses. The support team can leverage the call recordings and use them for staff training. In case of conflicts, these call recordings offer an in-depth analysis of the situation. Nothing is left to interpretation, as it’s a literal recording. Furthermore, if a case requires lots of time or multiple interactions, customer support can use previous call recordings to gather information. This makes the customer feel heard.
Con: Costly compared to non-voice channels
From setting up phone lines to providing physical space/required hardware for employees, phone support costs more than non-voice channels. Additionally, as you require more trained support agents, the cost of employees will rise as well.
Con: Longer waiting time for an agent
If the in-house phone support team is small, customers may face longer waiting times to reach an agent. This buildup can compound further if the customer is in a different timezone from the support agent. Endless hold times filled with infamous elevator music can leave customers irritated. This irritation can bleed into the phone call, or lead the customer to hang up entirely.
Con: Some problems require a long phone time
More complex problems require longer phone calls. While this is acceptable as phone support is primarily hailed for being better at solving complex issues, it can become a problem if you don’t have enough in-house employees. In this case, outsourcing is the best and most affordable option.
Live Chat or Phone? Which One is For You?
So, now that we’ve discussed the pros and cons of both phone support and live chat... which one is better for your company? The answer depends on a combination of factors. Before you invest in either, you need to consider the nature of your business, what kind of products or services you’re offering, your near-future plans for expansion, and your target demographics.
So... which one?
Choose live chat:
- If you are dealing with online sales. You can offer a proactive solution where you can reach out to the customer and help them move down the sales funnel quickly. As you will have direct insight into where the customer is in the buying process, an agent can drop well-timed information to nudge them towards the purchase.
- If you operate solely via a mobile app. Embedded live chat software will make reaching out to customers easier for the support team. The customer can interact with the team while simultaneously exploring more items available on the app.
- If you want to cut operation costs. The live chat support option is undoubtedly more economical compared to phone support, as you don’t need to pay for phone lines, extra support agents, or the tools they need.
- If you want to boost your online sales. Live chat software can monitor leads and help qualify them in real time with less effort.
Choose phone support:
- If your business requires more personalized support. Customers feel more connected to the company when they are talking to an actual person. Agents can easily pick up on customer tone and conversational nuances.
- If you are offering VIP or high-end products or services. Customers are more willing to spend money on premium products when they also receive high-end, personalized services to troubleshoot them.
- If you have to deal with complex issues regularly. Live chat is not the best option when it comes to handling nuanced conversations. More advanced issues require phone support.
- If you do not have an impactful web presence. Your customers need assurance that your business can be trusted. If your web presence isn’t as strong as you’d like, you need an excellent phone support team.
Ever Heard of Omnichannel?
Every customer and business has unique needs, so there’s a strong possibility that, in the battle of phone vs. live chat, neither is the definitive winner. What would you do then? Flip a coin? No need! You can have the best of both worlds with omnichannel support.
Omnichannel support focuses on providing customer support across all touchpoints. Email, live chat, phone, chatbots, social media—omnichannel support aims to create a unified experience for your customer base, both potential and existing. Customers have the liberty to interact with support staff on the channel of their choosing. They can even switch channels entirely and pick up the conversation where they left off.
If you want in-depth data analysis, omnichannel support reigns victorious. It enables you to streamline all data gathered from each individual platform and store it in one place. You can easily integrate it by outsourcing. To reiterate: omnichannel support is the clear winner of the phone vs. live chat support battle. A trojan horse, if you will.
Advantages of Omnichannel Support
As omnichannel support provides maximum convenience for both the customer and the support team, many online businesses are making the switch. Here are some of its advantages:
Online brands often rely on multiple channels of communication. It’s common for potential customers to switch between these channels. The information/customer data on each of these channels must merge seamlessly, or you risk losing credibility and consumer trust altogether. Omnichannel support keeps all the information in one place and enables staff to offer quick resolutions.
Easy Collaboration of Departments
Support teams collaborate with other departments (like marketing and sales) to share data or other important information. This is crucial for the growth of the business, as it allows the departments to craft a unified experience for the customers. For effective collaboration between the teams, businesses can invest in great omnichannel support. These channels should also integrate with team apps to better facilitate the flow of information between departments.
Analyzing Channel Performance
It is important to continually monitor the performance of the various channels a business uses. This requires collecting feedback, or the CSAT score. Omnichannel support portals often come with robust business intelligence integrated into their dashboards. Analyzing support channel performance through these dashboards is easier. This is because departments can expect accurate data, which aids in the improvement of customer support.
The Bottom Line
Considering the merits and drawbacks of both phone support and live chat, it’s impossible to declare one clear winner. The reality is simple: if you want to offer the best possible customer support to your clients, an integrated solution is necessary. Omnichannel support allows phone support and live chat to compensate for each other’s weaknesses, creating an unstoppable customer service machine.
Omnichannel support offers a wide range of communication options. It aids in streamlining cross-channel conversations, leads to easy data collection and analysis, and fosters a seamless customer support experience.