Which is Better: Phone Support or Live Chat?

Part of being a successful business is serving the needs of customers, especially when they need help. While live chat has become a popular choice in the last decade, many people still prefer phone support and speaking with another human being. Long hold times are frustrating, but customers are willing to endure them in order to receive service with a personal touch. The best VoIP company will strive to find the correct balance between live chat and phone support and know when to use each to its best advantage.

Customer Expectation Levels

In the 21st century, the level of support customers expect from businesses is extremely high. Call centers have shifted to more collaborative environments, which has expedited the flow of information and helped customers resolve their issues quickly. When contacting a company, the majority of people feel more comfortable speaking directly with an agent than using a live chat, although the chat may present more convenience. A 2017 report on customer interactions included the following data:

• 80 percent of customers were willing to switch to another company if they experienced poor customer service

• About 70 percent preferred to resolve problems with an agent over the phone, by live chat or through email

• Only one third had a preference for self-service methods

Live chat has found traction in the modern marketplace, but there is still plenty of room for traditional phone support.

phone support

Phone Support versus Live Chat

As much as they might want to, most businesses cannot offer customer service through every channel. There are too many logistical issues, namely data management, the purchase of software and the need for a large number of agents. A more realistic approach is to understand the benefits that each method brings and utilize the ones that work best for the business model. One company may do well with just live chat, but another may need the more personal experience that phone agents can provide.

When Live Chat is the Right Choice

A business that is just starting out may need to watch its expenditures, and this is where live chat can provide a low-cost solution. It also allows agents to handle multiple support requests simultaneously and provides a wide support channel for the company. In general, live chat works best under the following circumstances:

• When a company does most of its business on the internet

• When a business operates only through a mobile app

• When a company needs to reduce operating costs

• When a business is looking to increase its web sales

live chat support

When Phone Support Makes Sense

While live chat has its benefits, it does not take anything away from phone support. Resolving customer issues by phone allows agents to connect on an empathetic level, which helps them to understand why the customer is unhappy or distressed about a product or service. Communicating by text is fast and convenient, but it does not have the human element and misunderstandings can arise. While phone support can present long waiting times during busy periods, it is still the preferred way to get in touch with a business. There are some issues that can only be resolved when one person listens to another, and this is where phone support really shines.

Phone support offers several positive benefits:

• It is the most personal way of dealing with customer issues outside of meeting face to face. A live chat is just words on a screen and does not offer any type of human connection. On the phone, agents can hear customer tone, inflection and emotion, which helps them to perform their jobs better.

• It is the level of customer support that is expected in a high-end market with costly products. Customers who pay a premium price expect premium support to back it up.

• It allows for more nuanced discussion when dealing with complex problems. It is much easier to escalate an issue when a customer is on the phone than it is in a live chat. Agents can make a human connection and quickly get the matter resolved. A customer who feels heard and understood will likely recommend the business to others.

• It is a more practical choice if the company does not have a web presence.

In many cases, different tools work for different businesses. While live chat is a quick and easy way for customers to reach out to a business, it will never be a replacement for phone support. Most people want a personal connection when they need to resolve an issue, and older customers will likely reach for the phone instead of going online. In the digital world, where the human touch is slowly fading away, offering customers real connection is a great way to come out ahead.