5 Customer Service Channels Every Business Should Have

April 15, 2015 in Guest Posts, Product News & Reviews by Perry

As a business owner, it always amazes me the different channels through which people prefer to send me an inquiry.

You’d think everyone would just shoot for the contact page – nine times out of ten it’s in the navigation menu anyways.

And yet everyday I receive a customer inquiry from a channel I wasn’t expecting.

Customer service inquiries are opportunities. Somebody is having difficulty, is confused, or perhaps is just curious.

Regardless, it’s important that I get all of them and that the person doesn’t bounce before asking their question.

Here are the 5 channels we utilize at NinjaOutreach, our blogger outreach software.

Phone Support

Many businesses don’t offer phone support, because they aren’t large enough and don’t have the resources for someone to be sitting by the phone.

Additionally, many customers hate phone support because we associate it with long waiting times, run arounds, and just overall poor experience.

Call me old-fashioned, but I think there is still a place for phone support if it’s done correctly.

As a result, I put my personal cell phone number at the top of our website.

Call Our CEO

And believe it or not, people call, almost every week.

A lot of these people are looking for immediate gratification, or they have some very specific they are asking about.

For example, an agency might call and want some specific insight into a campaign they are running and how our tool can benefit them. It’s not the usual does you tool offer this feature question, and it would be a pain to type out.

Additionally, by saying that it’s the “CEO” they know who they are getting on the other line.

Lastly, for me it’s an opportunity to have a real, person to person interaction with someone and say “Yes, I am a human!

Live Chat Customer Widget

Halfway between phone support and an email is a live chat widget.

On the one hand, they still have to type out their response.

But on the other, they get immediate gratification and get to “speak” with a human on the other end.

It’s a nice balance between the two.

There are dozens of chat widgets that can integrate with your site. We use Zopim because it’s free and simple.

There are two features I like about Zopim.

The first is that it allows me to initiate conversations with people on my website. That’s really cool and there is nothing else I use that can do that.

Not only that but I get a lot of nifty information about them, such as the page they are on, how many time they’ve visited the website, and information about their device:

CRM

If it’s someone I’ve run into before, I might have a name and some notes. It’s a functional CRM in that regard.

The other thing I like is the ability for someone to send me offline messages, because let’s face it; I’m not on 24/7.

24-7

Contact Page

Of course, we have a contact page too – who doesn’t.

But we try to make it not so boring, as well as to collect a bit more information about the customer.

To do this we use the free wordpress plugin contact 7.

Most people just plug this in and forget it, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

But if you weren’t aware, you can customize the fields. Here’s what ours looks like:

Form 1

What’s awesome is I can ask about the plan that they are on, how they’re feeling, what department they need, or anything else.

As a result, my team will get messages in their inbox that look like this (I’ve hidden the personal details):

Form Reply

This way we can all see it and the first person who is able to can respond. We can prioritize the inquiries based on the level of stress the customer is dealing with and make sure we provide the best support to our premium clients.

Knowledge Base

If you’re selling any sort of tool that requires the user to do something remotely technical, you should have a Knowledge Base.

This should be the first line of defense for customer support, as a means to help lighten the load.

It doesn’t have to be fancy. Ours is simply a page that looks like the following and contains videos:

Knowledge Base

One thing I recommend is to include both video AND text, as some people prefer to read, whereas others are visual learners.

We include our knowledge base in the signature of just about every email that goes out, to make sure people have a place to go for the easy questions.

Twitter

Twitter is so much more than a social media channel on which you can promote your content.

It’s a very powerful tool for business. For example:

We use it as a form of lead generation, where we ask people if they are interested in trying out the software.

We also use it in our follow up series, where we ask signups if they have activated it yet.

And it looks like it is developing into a huge customer service tool as well.

studies have shown that 42% of consumers expect a response within one hour when they contact a brand on social media.

Dang!

Luckily, some companies, like Hubspot, have caught onto this.

They created a spinoff Twitter account @HubSpotSupport.

@HubSpot handles basic questions and inquiries, while @HubSpotSupport handles more specific support requests.

Hubspot Twitter

Conclusion

Customer shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to contact you.

You should be inviting them.

Remember that each person is active on their own channel and has their unique preferences.

Customers, like business owners, need help online – so let’s give it to them, shall we?

What Customer Service Channels Do You Use?

Web Hosting

David Schneider is the cofounder of NinjaOutreach an all in one Prospecting and Outreach tool which was created to streamline the process of connecting with influencers. He can also be found @ninjaoutreach and his business blog SelfMadeBusinessman