Customer Service

7 Types of Customer Service: Pros and Cons

Technology brings new communication channels and new channels bring new ways we interact with customers. What are the pros and cons of each type of customer service?

Do you like jigsaw puzzles?

I do.

Each puzzle piece comes in a similar size but differs in its shape and color. You can follow various tactics to solve the puzzles. Whether it would be the right one depends on different factors, such as the total pieces number, image, color contrast, size, etc.

Solving jigsaw puzzles reflects the biggest challenges of today’s customer service.

First of all, all customers are different. They vary in their experience, expertise, expectations. No customer is identical (neither is a jigsaw piece).

Secondly, learning about and analyzing your customers’ problems take time (just like analyzing and sorting the puzzle pieces).

And finally, customers expect fast service so you need to decide what channel of communication with your customers would do the job most efficiently (choosing the right tactics for solving the puzzles will result in a faster task completion).

In this article we cover 7 types of customer service that can help you with your everyday customer service activities:

  1. Phone customer service 
  2. Email customer service 
  3. On-site customer service
  4. Live chat customer service
  5. Social media customer service
  6. FAQ customer service
  7. Customer self-service

There are many areas of customer service where your business may operate inefficiently. Few examples may include:

  • How long do you keep your customers waiting? 
  • Are your customers provided with sufficient resources to resolve their issues on their own?
  • Do you keep your customers up to date with regular updates?
  • Can your customers get in touch with you after hours?

With so many different solutions available nowadays, why don’t you try something new and see how a certain type of service can improve your customer care.

Different Types of Customer Service

Support can be provided by a company staff over the phone, through email, live chat, or social media. It can also take place on-site

Customers can seek answers to their queries with the help of FAQ, or find answers themselves through different self-service options. 

#1 Phone Customer Service 

Good old fashioned customer service.

According to Microsoft’s report, this type of customer support (another term for customer service) is the most popular choice among all service types all over the world

Phone Customer Service Pros and Cons
a telephone allows to assess customers’ emotions betteryoung people tend to text more often as opposed to making phone calls
it’s faster to present a problem verbally than to describe it in writingdue to service staff unavailability customers are being put on hold
complex problems are better explained and elaborated during a live verbal interactioncustomers may be unable to make a proper call in case of poor network coverage
older generations are generally more familiar with telephone devices than with computers so they may feel more secure to make a phone call than to make a written inquiry

Pros:

  • Direct type of interaction which allows better recognition of customers’ emotions
  • People talk faster than they type, which makes a telephone fast and efficient medium
  • Great channel for complex or urgent problems 
  • A telephone is a device known to all generations so even non tech-savvy users can use it

Cons:

  • Trends change alongside the generations – young people prefer texting to calling
  • Long or unspecified hold times when all operators are busy
  • Poor network reception can prevent from making a phone call

What Industries Would Benefit from Phone Customer Service the Most?

The public sector is bound by strict legal constraints, that’s why it’s important the customers understand regulations and procedures correctly. 

In the private sector, many customers feel more secure to resolve high-priority or sensitive problems over the phone.

Industries That Could Benefit
From Phone Customer Service
PublicPrivate
GovernmentAccommodation
LegalBanking
HealthcareCourier and delivery
EducationRetail / Ecommerce
Legal
Healthcare

Examples of Companies Using Phone Customer Service

  • GoDaddy

GoDaddy is a web hosting company that offers support to customers from major cities from all over the globe. Since technical issues can pop up at any time, it makes sense that customers expect fast support.

Example of Using Phone Customer Service
  • FedEx

As a global courier company, FedEx offers phone service to its customers from a range of locations all over the world. Shipment-related issues may happen to anyone that’s why FedEx offers its customers the possibility of immediate support.

Example of using phone customer service

#2 Email Customer Service

In terms of channels popularity, email is still one of the top choices. On average, people send 269 billion emails every day

Nowadays, it is more common for companies to have an online contact form on their website.

Email Customer Service Pros and Cons
email allows customers to send a query whenever it is convenient to them, even beyond working hoursit’s slower to present (and read) a problem in a written form
each email conversation history can be archived to be available at any time to a customer and support agentcomplex problems require a series of threads and replies making the overall conversation time-consuming
repetitive queries can be automated with predefined responsesan email is an indirect form of communication which makes the assessment of customers’ emotions tricky

Pros:

  • Queries can be sent at any time of the day or night
  • You can customize your email designs and professional email signatures
  • Conversation history is kept by both sides for future reference 
  • Repetitive email queries can be automated with chatbots

Cons:

  • Reading and writing an email consumes time 
  • Email follow-ups add on top of total time spent on an individual customer 
  • Email prevents from an accurate assessment of customers’ emotions

What Industries Would Benefit from Email Customer Service the Most?

For private companies with a large pool of local and foreign customers, emails can be helpful since they can be automated and sent at any time of the day or night. 

Industries That Could Benefit From
Email Customer Service
PublicPrivate
NoneAccommodation
Retail / Ecommerce

Examples of Companies Using Email Customer Service

  • China World Hotel, Beijing

China World Hotel is an example of a business operating in the accommodation sector. To meet the needs of customers living in different time zones, the hotel offers the possibility to make an inquiry through an email – a channel perfect for questions coming from any time zone.

Example of Using Email Customer Service
  • Waterstones

Waterstones is an excellent example of a company using the omnichannel approach. Customers can choose to call the customer service directly, send an email, or chat in real-time.

Example of Using Email Customer Service by Waterstones

#3 On-Site Customer Service

This type of service is delivered to the customers’ homes or workplaces. On-site support includes therapeutic services, appliances repairs, teaching, and consulting.

On-Site Customer Service Pros and Cons
a very convenient solutions for customers – the service is delivered to the doorservices delivered to local or global clientele tend to be more expensive and time-consuming due to the traveling aspect
offers an excelent opportunity to learn more about your customer in a natural face-to-face conversation
offers an excelent opportunity to display expertise in a field your companyoperates in and as a consequence, to improve the perception of your brand as a business partner

Pros:

  • Convenient for the customers as they do not need to visit the service providers
  • Allows for better understanding of customers’ pains and needs
  • Allows for strengthening the brand quality through the display of expertise

Cons:

  • It takes time and money to reach customers’ places as scheduled

What Industries Would Benefit from On-Site Customer Service the Most?

This solution would be most suitable to companies offering repair/maintenance, or beauty services. It’s also suitable for entrepreneurs deliver training, therapy or consulting sessions.

Industries That Could Benefit from On-Site
Customer Service
PublicPrivate
GovernmentBeauty & Wellness
LegalConsulting
HealthcareMarketing
EducationTelecom
SaaS / IT
Legal
Healthcare
Education

Examples of Companies Using On-Site Customer Service

  • AT&T

AT&T aids its customers with on-site technical support. Technicians install and troubleshoot network and devices in their customers’ locations. 

Example of Using On-Site Customer Service by Beauty Bus
  • Beauty Bus

Beauty Bus, a foundation operating in a beauty and wellness sector, delivers beauty services to ill patients and their caregivers directly at hospitals and social service partners.

Example of Using On-Site Customer Service by Beauty Bus

#4 Live Chat Customer Service

What is live chat? A must-have online business tool. The main strength of a live chat channel lies in its possibility of integration with chatbots turning it into a very viable customer service solution to any company – private or state.

It shares some strengths and weaknesses of the email service. However, due to its unique advantages over the phone and email channels, live chat has a huge satisfaction rate of 92% among customers.

Live Chat Customer Service Pros and Cons
the support agent can hold multiple live chat conversations which leads to faster response timesfast means of communication but phone communication is faster
repetitive queries can be automated with predefined responses (in any language)an indirect form of communication which makes the assessment of customers’ emotions tricky
each email conversation history can be archived to be available at any time to a customer and support agent

Pros:

  • One support agent can have multiple live conversations at the same time
  • When integrated with chatbots, repetitive conversations can be automated
  • Conversation history is kept by both sides for future reference

(…) if we do not move customers from Email to a chat experience with built-in intelligent self service then as an industry we are doomed to escalating linear costs as more and more of humanity gets online with their smartphones and starts consuming digital services 

Abinash Tripathy
CSO @ Helpshift | https://bit.ly/2RADdeK

Cons:

  • Live chat prevents from an accurate assessment of customers’ emotions
  • It’s faster than email but still slower than a phone conversation

Pro tip #1
Do not to respond to your customers with generic and dull responses. Use live chat + chatbots combination to your advantage – script smart and unique responses to attract and engage customers in a conversation.
10 Principles of Conversational UI to Design Better Chatbots

What Industries Would Benefit from Live Chat Customer Service the Most?

At first glance, live chat seems to be the best tool for private sector companies due to their casual and innovative nature. However, public sector institutions can also benefit from a live chat type of customer service – live chat is an inexpensive and low-maintenance tool that can potentially ease the burden of daily repetitive tasks.

Industries That Could Benefit From
Live Chat Customer Service
PublicPrivate
LegalAccommodation
HealthcareSaaS / IT
EducationBeauty & Wellness
Retail / (E-)commerce
Games and Entertainment
Restaurants and Food
Banking
Airlines
Legal
Healthcare
Education

Examples of Companies Using Live Chat Customer Service

  • Tidio LLC

Customers of Tidio, a live chat and chatbot company, can inquire about the product or contact support through a live chat.

Example of Using Live Chat Customer Service
  • HP

HP Virtual Agent helps customers with troubleshooting issues with PCs or printers.

Example of Using Live Chat Customer Service by HP

#5 Social Media Customer Service

Social media support is support provided through social media channels (such as Facebook or Twitter). 

How do you respond to a customer on social media? 

On social media platforms, you can engage with your customers in many ways: through private chats, post comments, and group discussions.

Social Media Customer Service Pros and Cons
service can be carried through a live chat (powered by chatbots) allowing users to get in touch conveniently without the necessity of switching channels to email or websitesocial media are available to everyone so be sure to deal with all negative feedback with honesty and diplomacy
questions about your business, product or service are open to the public, meaning that your response can be read by others (and who could potentially have the same question) 
customers have the opportunity to read and provide answers to each other’s questions at the same time decreasing the workload of your customer agents
customers can form a group of your followers where they can share their experiences and knowledge decreasing the workload of your customer agents

Pros:

  • Private conversations can be carried on through a live chat
  • Public replies to company’s post may potentially decrease the number of similar questions
  • Public questions can be replied by a customer service agent or by another user
  • Users can form groups concentrated on your product or service where they can answer each others’ questions and share experiences 

Cons:

  • negative feedback can be easily shared to other users and harm your reputation – be honest and diplomatic to avoid escalation!

What Industries Would Benefit from Social Media Customer Service the Most?

Social media is a great channel for any entrepreneur/ company wanting to utilize the very popular means of online social interactions. It offers various ways of responding to customers’ queries. On top of that, this channel can be integrated with chatbots to chat with customers, make reservations, book appointments, or place orders for them.

Industries That Could Benefit From Social Media
Customer Service
PublicPrivate
GovernmentAccommodation
EducationSaaS/ IT
Beauty & Wellness
Retail/ (E-)commerce
Games and Entertainment
Restaurants and Food
Education

Examples of Companies Using Social Media Customer Service

  • Booking.com

Booking.com engages with customers through the most popular social media platforms.

Example of Using Social Media Customer Service
  • Tesla
Example of Using Social Media Customer Service by Tesla

#6 FAQ Customer Service

One of the most hassle-free among all types of service mentioned so far. 

What does FAQ stand for? The FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) is a list of questions and answers relating to a particular subject. FAQ questions can be grouped into categories or listed in any order.

FAQ Customer Service Pros and Cons
stays on the website 24/7 so it can be accessed anytime lacks an individual approach – only the common and foreseeable questions are included
reduces repetitive phone calls and emailsrequires regular updates
cost of set-up and maintenance is lower in comparison to phone or email serviceneeds to be skillfully written to answer the question straight to the point

Pros:

  • Accessible any time of the day/ night or weekday
  • Fewer phone calls and email queries
  • Low cost of set-up and maintenance

Cons:

  • No individual approach
  • Requires regular maintenance to ensure the information is accurate and up-to-date
  • Needs to be skillfully written to convert the customer

What Industries Would Benefit from FAQ Customer Service the Most?

The FAQ is an inexpensive way to provide your customers with answers they could seek. There is no fixed number of questions to be included so it can be easily adjusted to the company’s individual needs

Examples of Companies Using FAQ Customer Service

  • USPS

US Postal Services have their FAQ questions conveniently arranged by topic. Topics are broken down into subtopics, and the most common ones are located at the top of the list. 

Example of Using FAQ Customer Service
  • Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch FAQ is short. All the questions are listed one after another. Each question can be conveniently expanded to reveal the answer.

Example of Using FAQ Customer Service by Nintendo Switch

#7 Customer Self-Service

Some customers prefer to solve their problems on their own before they resort to contacting customer support

Many companies offer a wide range of training materials to help their customers to resolve issues on their own. Self-service materials also aim to present the company, product and services. Customer self-service includes webinars, instructional videos, tutorials, help-files, infographics, demos, documentation, online tools, guides – collectively, they are often referred to as Knowledge Base.

Customer Self-Service Pros and Cons
stays on the website 24/7 so it can be accessed anytime lacks an individual approach since it’s impossible to cover all possible issue scenarios
reduces repetitive phone calls and emailsrequires regular updates
enables customers with disabilities or special needs to seek information in an accessible format needs to be skillfully written not to confuse customers
if prepared in many languages – empowers foreign customers to familiarize themselves with the product or service

Pros:

  • Accessible any time of the day/ night or weekday
  • Fewer phone calls and email queries
  • Combines different sources of information (visual and audio) – useful for customers with hearing or visual impairments
  • Content can be prepared in many languages to meet foreign customers’ needs

Cons:

  • Requires regular maintenance to ensure the information is accurate and up-to-date
  • Requires more effort to prepare compared to FAQ
  • Needs to be skillfully written to ensure that all instructions and explanations are clear

What Industries Would Benefit from Customer Self-Service the Most?

This service works well for any industry but could be more useful to enterprises that offer a wide range of services or complex products. It also works well for public institutions that are usually associated with endless regulations and formalities.

Industries That Could Benefit From
Customer Self-Service
PublicPrivate
GovernmentAirlines
LegalBanking
HealthcareSaaS/ IT
EducationTransportation
Legal
Healthcare
Education

Examples of Companies Using Customer Self-Service

  • Atlassian

Atlassian has brilliant documentation for their products and services. 

Example of Using Customer Self-Service
  • Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic created Patient & Visitor Guide alongside a wide variety of topics, such as Symptoms A-Z, Tests and Procedure A-Z, and Patient Online Services among many others.

Example of Using Customer Self-Service by Mayo Clinic

Closing Thoughts on the Pros and Cons of Different Forms of Customer Service

types of customer service

There could be more than one type of customer service that would meet your customer service goals. One thing is sure: customers’ expectations grow and you may face the necessity for adoption of omnichannel customer service strategy. Omnichannel customer approach ensures that your customers’ queries are resolved in a professional and timely manner.

Pro Tip #2
Remember, customers’ satisfaction can be (and should be) measured. Results will give you a hint on whether a given channel is effective or not.
6 Steps to Measure Customer Satisfaction of Any Business

A list of needs and wants is different for each customer. Some of them prefer direct contact, while some may be reluctant to make a contact due to many reasons – they may have disabilities, anxieties, may be unable to communicate well in a language foreign to them, or they generally, prefer to solve problems on their own. 
Ensure that you meet the needs of different types of customers – do not leave any on their own. This a sign of the 5-star customer service!

Agnieszka Sienkiewicz

Agnieszka is a Content Writer at Tidio. She loves running-cycling-swimming, sci-fi movies, and novels. In spare time, she follows the latest news about AI-related stuff.

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