What’s the Best Channel for Communicating With Customers? Part 1

Recent research by STELLAService revealed that answering a simple email isn’t as easy as it seems for 25 of the top U.S. retailers. Only 54 percent of consumers got a complete answer to their straightforward questions about delivery dates or clothing sizes. For the rest, 80 percent of the time an automated reply was received advising them to read the FAQ section of the retailer’s website. Even the top-scoring retailer failed to completely answer consumers’ questions more than 11 percent of the time.

So how should retailers communicate with customers and prospects? The issue lies with the number of channels there are to choose from: voice, email, online chat, social care (i.e., queries dealt with via social media channels), text message, etc.

In this two-part series, I’ll look at each customer service channel in turn and talk about the pros and cons of each when it comes to their effectiveness as a communication channel for customer service.

Consumers value email as a customer support channel for the following two reasons:

  • Convenience: People can contact the company at a time and place that suits them.
  • Ease of use: Most people use email on a daily basis, so it’s a simple and familiar process for them.

However, the drawbacks of email are numerous. As STELLAService’s research shows, many companies redirect consumers to their websites to source answers for themselves, which isn’t helpful. Customers want to be provided with or directed straight to the information they need.

The back and forth of email can also take time, which isn’t valued in today’s era of direct customer interaction. Customers expect quick responses; delays heighten frustration.

Online Chat
Online chat allows retailers to talk to shoppers in real time via their website. This capability offers numerous benefits, including the following:

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