Phone is a great channel for customer service because it gives you the ability to deliver an awesome customer experience. But it’s also by far the most challenging customer service channel to scale.

While so many brands hide behind email tickets and make it hard to call them, this is not your only option If you’re struggling to scale phone customer service. By finding the right balance between live chat and phone for customer service, you can provide a real-time awesome customer experience without all the challenges of scaling a phone team.

At HelpFlow, we provide 24/7 LiveChat and customer service teams for over 100 e-commerce stores. In this post, I will walk through how to balance chat and phone in your customer service operations to get customers what they’re looking for. A fast real-time, solution-driven customer service experience.

Let’s get into it…

Customers Don’t Want Calls, They Want Real-time Solutions

When someone picks up the phone to call your customer service team, it’s not because they want to spend time speaking to someone. It’s because they want clarity or something resolved with their order, and they are concerned that email may take too long.

The problem here is that their sense of urgency and frustration rise if they can’t reach you on the phone or if they have to sit on hold waiting for your team to finish up with other calls. Phone starts to work against you unless you offer hold times of seconds, not minutes.

Although email is a channel, it is nowhere near fast enough for customers that need help quickly. Phone is not the only option. In running live chat well and offering it as often as possible, you give customers another easier way to get the real-time help they are looking for.

I won’t dig into details here on how to run live chat for customer service but there are a few key things to make sure you get it right:

  1. Don’t use pre-chat forms. Customers should just simply click the chatbox, ask a question, and get connected to someone on your team. Chat is easier than the phone. Don’t add friction to the experience with forms.
  2. Respond in less than 10 seconds. It’s OK to take some time to look up information about their order, but the first response time is critical to get it right. Once you reach 10 or 12 seconds, the visitor will start to feel like they’re not going to be able to get a solution and they may take up the phone to call.
  3. Be available nights and weekends. Depending on your business, 50% or more of your traffic and revenue will come outside of business hours. In having a chat team available nights and weekends, you give visitors an easy way to get answers to their questions even though they weren’t able to break away from their own workday to call your team.

All of this ensures a really strong customer experience through the chat channel.

Share Chat As A Resource In All Customer Experience

Once you have your chat process dialed in, you can start to emphasize it in all of your customer interactions. This will condition people to use it as a primary channel for customer service, which will bring down your call volume while still providing a great customer experience.

 Here are a few key places to emphasize chat call to action :

  1. Make chat clearly available on the website without using a pre-chat form.
  2. Callout chat as a resource on order confirmation pages so customers are aware of where to go for any questions that come up.
  3. Include a direct chat link in order confirmation emails and status update emails. This will bring down your call volume that gets triggered from some of these emails.
  4. Rather than sharing your phone number throughout the header of the website or in your confirmation emails, direct people to a support page that primarily focuses on chat while still making the phone visible so you are not hiding.

All of these options will drive people to live chat as an initial customer service channel. As long as you do a killer job on the chat, you’ll be able to provide a real-time customer service experience without the hassles of so many phone calls.

What’s next?

For some brands, it’s important to have a direct connection to the customer and that means not hiding behind the helpdesk. But as you scale, it’s not sustainable to have phone as the primary customer service channel.

Hopefully this has sparked some ideas of how to leverage chat on your team to provide a great customer service experience in a more scalable way.

If Providing a great customer service experience 24/7 is something that aligns with your brand values, reach out to us at helpflow.com. We provide 24/7 live chat and customer service teams to over 100 e-commerce stores. Our process for learning the business is bulletproof, and we’d be happy to have a chat about working together.

Jon Tucker

CEO, HelpFlow.com

Jon Tucker is CEO of HelpFlow, a provider of 24/7 live chat and customer service teams for 100+ eCommerce stores. Launched in 2015, their team of agents has produced nearly $100M in chat revenue for a wide range of stores using a conversion-focused approach to live chat.

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