Digital customer service channels: Picking up customers where they are

Picture of TCI Redaktion

TCI editorial office

July 15, 2022

Online retail is booming and more and more business models are based on the internet as a virtual space, web applications and digital products in the broadest sense. It is therefore an obvious step to shift customer service from the analog to the digital world. In this article, we present 6 digital customer service channels and name the specific advantages and disadvantages.

6 Digital customer service channels

While some articles already count e-mail as a digital customer service channel, we have deliberately decided against it. After all, email is nothing more than post or fax - just displayed on a screen. The response times are indefinitely long, which means that it basically has none of the advantages that digital customer service channels have.

Below we present six digital customer service channels that Advantages for customers and companies have, before:

1. contact forms

The contact form is still very close to e-mail. Customers can contact customer service via a form on the website. The sometimes nerve-wracking search for an e-mail address is no longer necessary, which is at least a slight improvement. Nevertheless, response times are often unknown and it takes time for customers to receive help. However, an automated email often arrives in the mailbox confirming receipt of the request and stating the maximum response time. In this respect, this is a significant improvement compared to being put on hold by phone or fax.

2. knowledge databases, wikis, FAQs

Frequently occurring problems can be collected and possible solutions described in knowledge databases, wikis and FAQs. The customer receives a kind of self-service version of support. This makes it relatively easy for them to obtain information themselves.

This digital customer service channel is mainly suitable for standard problems, as direct contact is not intended to solve individual challenges.

3. website chat and virtual assistance

Companies can set up a website chat on their homepage for individual and specific problems. Customers or interested parties can reach employees live via a small window (usually located at the bottom right). Conversely, help or advice can also be offered via the chat after a certain period of time (virtual assistance).

Companies can save costs here compared to telephone calls. This is because some questions can be answered automatically with the help of chatbots. Employees can also chat with several customers at the same time - which is not possible on the phone. If there are no or only a few inquiries, there is room for other tasks.

4. messenger apps

Almost everyone uses messenger apps in their everyday life for daily communication. This availability makes them the ideal digital customer service channel. Customers can simply ask their question in passing and then receive an answer directly on their smartphone.

Facebook Messenger is particularly suitable here, as it links the social network with a messaging app. WhatsApp is also a good choice as the most widely used messenger service worldwide. Both platforms offer specific customer service options such as a messenger mailbox, a messenger greeting or a customer chat plugin. However, Telegram, Threema or Viber can also be used for digital customer service under certain circumstances - although they have significantly fewer users.

5. social media

4.6 billion people worldwide use social media every day. It is therefore not surprising that the majority of them also contact companies in this way. The majority of these messages to companies contain complaints or questions - and customers expect a quick response within a maximum of 24 hours. However, they don't always get this - which is fatal on social media. This is because they have a significant impact on the public image of a company. Companies would therefore do well to strengthen their customer service via social media.

6. chatbots

Chatbots can also be used in website chats or messenger services to automatically answer frequently asked questions. A chatbot can also be used to start a conversation until the problem becomes more specific. It should then be possible to switch to an employee to work on a solution individually. The potential of chatbots depends on the technology used: While AI-supported solutions are based on self-learning algorithms that are constantly improving and can answer customer queries with increasing accuracy, chatbots can also be used on the basis of a company-defined decision tree that specifies standardized answers.

In any case, a chatbot can intercept simple standard questions and take the pressure off a team. However, as many people have reservations about conversations with technology, they should always have the choice of contacting an employee.

Digital customer service channels: automated or customized

Every company should find a good mix of digital customer service channels that cover different areas. On the one hand, this involves finding solutions to individual problems and, on the other, standard questions that occur time and again. With the help of digital customer service channels, processing can be made much more efficient and teams can be relieved.

Source cover image: © fizkes | Adobe Stock

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Picture of TCI Redaktion

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