10 Best Customer Support Channels In 2024

From live chat to social media, to cobrowsing & email, here's an overview of the best customer service support channels you should invest in
Published on: Jan 10, 2024
Last updated: Feb 26, 2024

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Companies providing consistent, omnichannel customer support retain 89% of their customers, as per an Aberdeen Group study.

Considering that 90% of customers expect replies in 10 minutes or less, the high retention rate from omnichannel support highlights why businesses are urgently seeking effective customer support channels.

Choosing the right customer support channels can be challenging, given the variety of options, such as phone, email, live chat, social media, cobrowsing, and AI chatbots. We've created a list of the top 10 channels and tips for their effective use.

What is a customer support channel?

In a store, you can seek help by asking a salesperson, using a self-service kiosk, or calling for assistance — which are just a few of the different customer support channels customers can use to get help in person. Digitally, customer support channels function much the same way; they’re where or how customers reach out for help and get it.

Customer support channels are ways a company communicates with customers to answer questions, solve problems, and offer support. Picking the right channel leads to quicker and easier assistance. These channels bridge the gap between customers and the brand, letting them voice concerns, seek guidance, and connect with the brand, whether for simple inquiries or complex issues.

10 best customer support channels in 2024

Now we'll explore the 10 best customer support channels, including cobrowsing, phone, email, live chat, and more. We'll break down what each channel is good for(as well as its weaknesses), so you can pick the perfect one for your business.

Cobrowsing

You and a user can browse your app together with cobrowsing.

Cobrowsing is a new form of support channel that has quickly become a must-have for many companies.

Cobrowsing is a transformative technology that elevates customer support by allowing agents to securely connect with a customer's browser. Agents can then guide users or even control their screens, offering seamless and effective assistance. This enhances the customer-brand relationship.

Cobrowsing uses

  • Take the wheel: Agents, with permission, can assist by interacting directly with the user's screen, like a copilot.
  • Guide users: Your agents can give personalized tours of your product showcasing new features or guide them through complex workflows.
  • Annotate where necessary: Annotations like circles, arrows, and text balloons help draw attention to specific elements on the screen.
  • Open a multi-channel conversation: Use voice, video, and text chat with screen sharing to create a rich and interactive communication experience.
  • Fill forms: Agents can, with consent, lend a hand in filling out lengthy forms or applications, saving users time and frustration.
  • Smooth the onboarding path: Guiding new users through account setup and initial steps becomes a breeze with cobrowsing. Ensure a positive first impression.
  • Help in complicated tasks: When chat and email fall short, cobrowsing bridges the gap for tackling complex issues visually and collaboratively.
  • Demystify paperwork mountains: Insurance forms, online banking processes, and other intricate tasks become less daunting with a support agent guiding the way.

Cobrowsing pros

  • No meeting scheduling: With cobrowsing, you can initiate a call with users right within your own product. No more Zoom or Google Meet invites.
  • Emphasize user-friendliness: Co-browsing allows agents to easily connect with active users in your product through a single click, without needing downloads or scheduled sessions.
  • No downloads: Cobrowsing solutions, such as Fullview, integrate easily with your web app using minimal code or no-code options like Google Tag Manager, enabling quick setup and operation within minutes. There are no downloads involved.
  • Lightweight powerhouse: Co browsing tools like Fullview are lightweight and don't hinder your web app's performance, ensuring a smooth, uninterrupted user experience during co-browsing sessions.
  • Security measures: Fullview comes with data blurring and granular control to ensure privacy. It is 100% GDPR compliant. Keep sensitive information under wraps.
  • Compatible with existing tools: Fullview enables agents to start cobrowsing calls directly from familiar support tools such as Intercom, Zendesk, and Salesforce Service Hub, ensuring smooth workflow integration and allowing agents to use their existing skills with minimal disruption.
  • Personalized journeys: Guide users through your product as a virtual co-pilot, customizing their journey and offering personalized attention. This engaging approach deepens connections and builds lasting customer loyalty.
  • Recordings for Q&A: Cobrowsing recordings can be recorded for Q&A purposes. Vendors like Fullview offer this option to all enterprise customers.

Cobrowsing cons

  • Limited scope: Cobrowsing is highly effective for its specific purpose but may be too limited for broader internal IT support, especially in teams handling various software across different systems. This is because cobrowsing limits screen control to within a single application.
Learn about customer support best practices here.

Video chat (for eg., Zoom)

Video chat, providing face-to-face interaction, adds a human touch to customer support. Its importance has surged with the pandemic, as evidenced by a 500% increase in web and video conferencing in recent years.

Uses

  • Enhanced Troubleshooting and Guidance: Video chat is useful for complex issues as it provides nonverbal cues, allows for demonstrating troubleshooting steps, sharing visual aids, and observing customer reactions, leading to quicker and more effective solutions.
  • Building relationships: Video chat enhances human connection beyond text and audio through nonverbal cues like eye contact and smiles, building trust and increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Personalized interactions: Video chat enables agents to customize their communication style to each customer's comfort and preferences, enhancing their sense of being valued and understood.

Pros

  • Enhanced understanding: Nonverbal cues and visual demonstrations can clarify complex issues and ensure both parties are on the same page.
  • Increased customer satisfaction: Building personal connections and resolving issues efficiently leads to positive customer experiences and higher satisfaction.
  • Improved agent morale: Seeing the impact of their work on real people can boost agent morale and engagement, leading to better employee satisfaction and performance.

Cons

  • Technical requirements: Video chat relies on stable internet connections and compatible hardware, which can be an obstacle for customers with limited resources.
  • Privacy concerns: Security and data privacy considerations are crucial, and robust measures must be in place to ensure customer trust.
  • Distractions: Background noise, visual clutter, and technical glitches can be distracting and disrupt the flow of communication.
  • Limited non-verbal cues: Compared to in-person interaction, video chat can make it more difficult to read subtle non-verbal cues, potentially leading to misunderstandings.
  • Outdated technology: While video chat has unique advantages, compared to a cutting-edge solution like cobrowsing, it can feel slightly less advanced.

Phone

Despite technological advances, phone support remains a key pillar in customer service, offering a direct and familiar connection between agent and customer in a digital world.

Uses

  • Tackle complex issues: Nuances sometimes get lost in writing. The phone allows for back-and-forth dialogue and clarifying details. It also makes it easy to navigate complex problems.
  • Emergency lifeline: For urgent issues, phone support is crucial. In crises requiring immediate action, a human voice can calm anxieties, quickly assess situations, and offer real-time guidance until the issue is resolved.

Pros

  • Build instant rapport: The phone creates an immediate connection through a friendly voice and warm greeting. Unlike impersonal text, a genuine conversation quickly builds trust and rapport, fostering empathetic and effective problem-solving.
  • Empathy: Phone calls offer genuine empathy and a human touch that bots and emails can't match. A sympathetic voice significantly contributes to building trust.

Cons

  • Limited visibility: The phone lacks visual capabilities, making it less effective for complex issues that need visual demonstrations or software navigation, where cobrowsing is more suitable.
  • Time-consuming explanations: Explaining a website layout or software feature over the phone can be frustrating. Cobrowsing eliminates this by removing the need for extensive verbal explanations.
  • Reliance on memory: Phone conversations depend on the customer's memory and the agent's comprehension, creating the potential for misunderstandings and errors.
You can learn more about customer service phone etiquette from this article.

Email

Email, with over 4.03 billion users globally and growing, remains a potent and relevant communication channel, not just a relic of the past.

Uses

  • An asynchronous option: Email allows customers and agents to respond at their own pace, providing a less pressured environment. This approach enables detailed explanations, researched solutions, and carefully crafted responses for more thoughtful problem-solving.

Pros

  • Detailed documentation trail: Emails provide a permanent record of interactions, benefiting both customers and agents. Customers can refer back to solutions or instructions, and agents have a clear communication trail for ongoing support
  • Knowledge base builder: Emails help agents create knowledge base articles for future use, benefiting the entire support team with accumulated knowledge.

Cons

  • Time lag: Email's asynchronous nature can benefit complex issues but may frustrate customers seeking immediate resolutions, potentially harming satisfaction and loyalty due to longer response times.
  • Miscommunication risk: Text-based communication lacks tone, nuance, and visual context, leading to potential misunderstandings. Solutions like cobrowsing are better suited for avoiding these issues.
Find great customer support email templates here.

Live chat

Live chat is vital for customer support, with 42% of US online adults expecting it on every website. It helps companies meet the demand for instant gratification.

Uses

  • Provide real-time solutions: Answer customer questions in real-time to reduce frustration and increase satisfaction.

Here are live chat examples you can make use of.

Pros

  • Add empathy: Live chat enables agents to add personality, humor, and empathy to interactions, creating a more engaging and positive experience.
  • Cleared misconceptions: Real-time text cues and emojis can eliminate the ambiguity of emails. Agents can clarify questions on the spot, provide visual demonstrations, and ensure everyone is on the same page.
  • Multitasking: Live chat agents can handle multiple conversations efficiently, leading to shorter wait times for customers and improved agent productivity.

Cons

  • Agent overload: Although multitasking is a valuable skill, managing too many chats can lead to confusion and errors. Rushed responses, missed details, and a sense of frazzledness can diminish trust and make customers feel like just another ticket in the queue.
  • Lack of documentation: Live chat interactions lack permanent trails like emails. Without proper transcripts or logs, follow-up confusion can occur, potentially escalating minor issues into major problems.
Here are the best customer support chat platforms.

Social media

The customer service arena is no longer just texts and emails. 67% of consumers turn to brands' social media pages for support and an impressive 50% of millennials air their grievances there. It's clear it isn't just for selfies — social media is changing customer service.

Uses

  • Addressing customer inquiries: Social media offers quick and efficient customer support, covering product info and troubleshooting. Agents provide real-time assistance, reducing frustration and enhancing satisfaction.
  • Gathering feedback: Social media captures customer sentiment, including brand mentions, comments, and direct messages. This customer feedback informs product development and marketing strategies and enhances the overall customer experience.

Pros

  • Public platform: Social media's public nature holds brands accountable and encourages transparency. Positive resolutions can influence more customers, creating a ripple effect that boosts brand reputation.
  • Community building: Social media platforms build brand communities. Agents engage with customers, answer questions, and address broader concerns, fostering loyalty and brand advocacy in a supportive environment.
  • Humanizing the brand: Social media lets brands showcase their human side by sharing behind-the-scenes moments, celebrating employee achievements, and engaging in lighthearted interactions. This relatability can increase customer attachment.

Cons

  • Viral volcano: Private issues can become public spectacles on social media, where isolated negative feedback can spread rapidly, harming brand reputation and drawing unwanted attention.
  • Lack of context: Social media's character-limited, text-based format can lead to misunderstandings and tone misinterpretations, particularly for complex issues.

Self-help portals

According to Harvard Business Review, 81% of customers prefer self-service over contacting agents. Self-help portals with comprehensive knowledge bases and user-friendly interfaces empower these customers to resolve their issues independently.

Uses

  • Organized solutions: Self-help portals contain categorized, searchable knowledge bases with solutions for common issues, product tutorials, and troubleshooting guides.
  • Resource hub: Self-help portals can serve as centralized resource hubs, offering downloadable manuals, product comparison charts, warranty documents, and other essential materials for customer convenience, all readily accessible and organized.

Pros

  • Community connection: Self-help portals can include community forums or comment sections, letting customers share experiences, provide peer-to-peer advice, and learn from each other.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Building and maintaining a self-help portal can be significantly cheaper than scaling up a traditional customer service channel.

Cons

  • The frustration fallout: When self-help solutions fail, customers who invest time in navigating portals but find no answers can become even more frustrated and resentful. This can potentially harm brand loyalty and tarnish the self-help experience.
  • Lack of accessibility: Not everyone navigates the digital world with ease. Customers with language barriers might struggle with text-heavy interfaces and lack alternative access options.

Forums and communities

Forums and online communities, rich in user-generated solutions and shared experiences, offer issue resolution and foster brand advocacy. They can also cut support costs significantly by up to 32.9%.

Uses

  • Peer-to-peer problem-solving: Forums allow customers to tap into the community's collective wisdom, seeking and offering solutions to common issues. From troubleshooting tips to workaround hacks, the combined knowledge base empowers users to conquer challenges together.
  • Knowledge creation and sharing: Forums aren't just about asking; they're about sharing. Users can contribute tutorials, FAQs, and even video guides, enriching the collective knowledge pool.

Pros

  • Cost reduction: Reduced support tickets, increased self-service, and proactive issue resolution through peer-to-peer support translate to significant cost cuts.
  • Customer engagement: Forums foster a sense of belonging and community. Customers feel heard, valued, and involved in the brand's story. This deeper engagement strengthens relationships and boosts brand loyalty.

Cons

  • Source of misinformation: Unverified advice, outdated solutions, and misinformation can mislead customers, worsen problems, and erode trust. Robust moderation, clear guidelines, and fact-checking measures are essential to maintaining quality control and protecting users from false information in forums.
  • Community of negativity: Frustrated customers may turn to forums to vent their grievances, potentially painting the brand negatively. While open communication is valuable, unchecked negativity can lead to echo chambers, harming brand reputation and discouraging potential customers.

On-page support widget

The future of customer service lies in on-page support widgets. These tools provide instant access to answers, resources, and live chat directly on the webpage, offering a sleek and unobtrusive user experience.

Uses

  • Live chat lifeline: For clear communication, live chat features integrated into on-page widgets enable customers to connect with real agents in real time, right from the page they're on.
  • Proactive assistance pathfinder: Advanced widgets can utilize AI and contextual analysis to provide relevant help tips, suggest related products, or guide users through complex processes. This creates a personalized and proactive support experience.

Pros

  • Reduced support costs: On-page widgets can deflect support tickets and streamline interactions, minimizing operational costs and freeing up agents for more complex issues.
  • Valuable data insights: Analytics on queries, feedback, and interactions can inform product improvements, refine website content, and personalize the overall customer journey.

Cons

  • Limited scope: Widgets excel at quick questions and basic issues. Complex problems, emotional concerns, or nuanced inquiries might require the human touch.
  • Technical issues: Glitches, lag, and frustrating loading times can make the beacon a flickering annoyance.

Mobile/SMS support (for eg: WhatsApp)

Mobile and SMS support channels, like WhatsApp, are increasingly replacing traditional phone calls and emails. Consumers prefer the convenience and familiarity of messaging for customer service interactions.

Uses

  • Asynchronous advantage: Mobile/SMS enables asynchronous communication, letting customers send queries and receive responses at their convenience, without the constraints of phone calls or live chat sessions.
  • Immediate Contact: Customers can reach out instantly, anytime, anywhere, creating a seamless bridge between inquiry and resolution.
  • Conversational comfort: Messaging platforms replicate natural text exchanges, avoiding scripts and jargon, which reduces formality and creates a comfortable environment for customers seeking assistance.

Pros

  • Improved agent efficiency: Agents can handle multiple conversations simultaneously via text, increasing their productivity and reducing overall customer wait times.
  • Reduced support costs: Deflected phone calls, streamlined interactions, and asynchronous communication can significantly lower operational costs. Mobile/SMS support offers a cost-effective alternative to traditional channels.
  • Personalization: Past interactions, purchase history, and preferences can be readily accessed, allowing agents to tailor their assistance to individual needs.

Cons

  • Lack of professionalism: The informality of text can border on unprofessionalism.
  • Limited scope: Complex technical issues, emotional situations, or detailed product explanations might require voice conversations or video calls.

Learn how you can implement WhatsApp for customer service.

How to choose the right customer support channel for you

When selecting a customer support channel, aim for options that align with your brand, satisfy customers, and avoid overwhelming anyone.

  1. Consider your customers: Knowing your audience's demographics, digital fluency, and communication preferences is important. A young, tech-savvy audience may prefer the immediacy of live chat and the personalization of cobrowsing, while an older demographic might be more comfortable with phone calls. Whether your audience is B2C or B2B also influences their communication preferences.
  2. Analyze your resources: For small startups, investing in a dedicated live chat team may not be feasible. Instead, build a robust self-help portal or knowledge base with a well-organized FAQ section. This empowers customers to find answers independently, saving resources and maintaining customer satisfaction.
  3. Assess your product or service: Complex software demands different support avenues than a simple e-commerce store. If remote assistance is key, consider solutions like cobrowsing to guide customers.
  4. Focus on a multi-channel strategy: Combining self-help resources with email options, live chat for quick queries, and cobrowsing for complex issues creates a multi-channel strategy that caters to diverse customer needs.

Learn more about the differences between CSAT vs NPS and how you can improve CSAT.

Conclusion

Customers seek not just answers but connections. By combining the right channels, technology, and human empathy, you can create a customer service experience that fosters loyalty.

While self-help portals and social media are valuable, the future of support lies in blending digital convenience with human connection. Technologies like cobrowsing and Fullview are emerging as key players in this evolving customer service landscape.

Sources:

Last checked: 18-Dec-2023

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