The 3 types of customer service: pros and cons

Piotr Zolnowski

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There are many customer service channels available. Which of them suits your business best? That depends. Every type of customer service has got its strengths and flaws. Knowing them will allow you to get the best out of your customer service.

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Types of customer service: phone, email and live chat support

Phone, email, live chat – they all serve the same purpose, but different situations may require different forms of communication.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but we can give you an overview of all channels, so you can choose whatever fits your business best (because no one else knows it better, right?).

Let’s do it!

1. Phone support

The good old telephone.

The foundation of call center.

The most popular type of customer service in countries all over the world, according to Microsoft’s report.

What pros and cons does this channel have?


  • Empathy: phone is a verbal form of communication, so it adds another dimension to the interaction (as opposed to the nonverbal channels). Thanks to that, it’s easier to measure how customer feels about the situation, and in the process – understand and address these emotions.
  • Average handling times: if you’re looking for high efficiency, it’s a great option. Why? Because people talk faster than they type (especially if your customers aren’t that comfortable with texting).
  • First contact resolution: it’s much easier to communicate the core of the problem verbally, and resolve it when the customer is right there and you can ask them some additional questions.


  • The age of millennials: it’s no secret that millennials are inseparable with mobile devices. They prefer to type and text instead of making a call. If this trend continues, it may mean the end of phone support.
  • Hold times: when the line is busy, your customer has to wait until one of the operators is available. And it can make them impatient and frustrated. This is where phone loses the battle with live chat, where you can copy-paste a piece of your knowledge base and resolve the issue in a matter of seconds. And your customer doesn’t have to wait.
  • Phone lines: even today, phone lines experience interferences. It can be pretty annoying when trying to reach phone support from areas with no mobile reach.

2. Email support

Email may be old-fashioned, but it’s still one of the most common types of customer service.

Microsoft’s report shows that it’s global popularity as a customer service channel is second in line, just behind phone support.

And there are reasons for that.


  • Convenience: calling business over the phone has to be done in their business hours. What about an email? Customers can contact you whenever they want! It’s especially useful when you’re servicing clients from different time zones.
  • Comfort: it works both for customers and support agents. Clients can read and reply to your email whenever it’s convenient for them, but also the service agent has got a lot of time to think about the response. Another advantage is that both parties have control over the speed of the interaction.
  • Conversation history: call centers often use software to record conversations with customers. However, clients can’t access them. With emails, both parties have a record of what has been said and done, and it’s convenient in case the conversation needs to be reviewed.  


  • Expectations: support agents may take their time with emails, but this may lead to high volumes of mail stuffing your inbox. And the longer customer waits, the quicker solution they expect. Replying with a copy-paste response (when they’ve waited so long!) certainly won’t make them happy.
  • Clarification: the tempo of an email interaction is a lot slower (compared to phone or live chat support), so sometimes there may be a need to get some extra information from the customer. And that boosts the average handling time and cuts down the customer satisfaction a little.
  • Empathy: understanding customer’s emotions when reading an email can be tricky. And if you fail to do that, it can make things more difficult.

3. Live chat support

Live chat is another common type of customer service tool. And it’s becoming even more popular due to what I mentioned earlier – millennials prefer texting over phone interaction.

With live chat used properly, it can increase your sales by HUGE numbers. According to B2B Marketing report, live chat can boost conversion by up to 20%!


  • Proactivity: compared to phone or email support, live chat gives you an opportunity to engage your website visitors with features like welcoming messages, offering discount codes or reaching out to clients who abandoned their carts. And this really works!
Tidio Chabots engage a customer abandoning his cart
  • Multitasking: live chat has a significant advantage over phone support – it allows you to have multiple conversations at the same time. An experienced live chat operator can handle as much as 5 conversations at the same time, without the loss of quality or making the customer wait for the reply too long.
  • Wait times: they’re short, because conversations take place in the real time, which leads to short handling times. And it makes your customers love you!


  • Hard to empathise: it has already been covered – text based communication lacks on empathy, compared to a phone conversation.
  • Speed of writing: it’s faster than email, but it’s still slower than a phone conversation.
  • Scripting: with live chat having a lot of automation and chatbot options, you can easily fall into the trap of sending scripted and generic responses. And it can be a little disappointing to your customers.

Sounds interesting? Check out our “what is live chat” guide to get more insight on this tool’s usage.

What types of customer service are best for you?

A quick summary.

The best types of customer service support depend mainly on the nature of your business and the industry you’re operating in.

Email support should be used as a supplement to phone and live chat support by everyone. It’s cheap, easy to set up and lets your customers contact you outside of business hours.

Phone support is the best when your target customer base is older than millennials, you deal with complex issues that are resolved verbally, or your industry demands a lot of empathy.

Live chat support is the best option when you’re running an online store, your target audience is young (and accepts typing), you want to proactively engage your customers, you’ve got high volumes of customers and you need to have them supported at the same time.

And most importantly – live chat is a very affordable tool, compared to an expensive and complex phone system.

Choose whichever tool suits your business and make the best out of your customer service.


Let’s grow your business together!

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Piotr Zolnowski
WRITTEN BY Piotr Zolnowski

Piotr is your friendly-neighbourhood Content Marketer. He’s in love with online marketing and e-commerce; besides content production, he’s a big fan of sports (especially martial arts) and laughing out loud.

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