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While talking to prospects who’re evaluating Zoho Support, I try to squeeze in a particular question during the first few minutes of the conversation. It’s a very simple question, but it defines how the company will use the software. It’s also our poll question this week!

The Zoho Support Poll

Deciding which channels to handle, for customer support, is important, yet tricky. It’s a trade-off of trade-offs.

Conversation versus Transaction

A channel like email, or even a customer self-service portal, is essentially ‘transactional’ in nature. Customers ask for some specific help. Agents extend help. Customers can ask for help with another related aspect. Agents extend help again. This is suitable for situations where grievance redressal takes time (example: changing a part in your mobile phone).

But, in situations where customer grievances can be addressed immediately (like canceling an order in e-commerce), conversational channels like social media will create better experiences.

Personal versus Impersonal

This is largely a debate involving channels like email, web forms, chat and phone. Customers using email or web forms to reach your business don’t really know whom they are talking to. They can’t put a face in the equation. They’re really impersonal channels. Comparatively, channels like chat and phone are personal. Your support agents become the faces of your company. Customers know they’re talking to a human and feel more comfortable. This is really important when customers have to give some sensitive information to your support agents.

Convenience versus Chaos

Is it convenient enough for my customers to reach me? Although channels like social media are far more convenient for customers, one must also note that they can’t be ‘organized’ in the same sense as email. So, they can become chaotic when handled inappropriately.

These are just some of the most common trade-offs. Depending on the complexity of your business, there could be several others.

Do tell us about how you handled these (and other such) trade-offs to choose your channel mix.