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Phone support

Phone support is the oldest support channel available. If you look back up to our history of support above, it predates any of the others fairly significantly. There has to be something to this channel that might otherwise seem outdated that makes it valuable, right?

Phone support

Phone support has plenty of pros and cons to go through, but before we get there, here are some interesting stats and metrics about phone support that might be useful for you to know:

  • According to Northridge Group, a majority of consumers report finding a solution to their issue on the first try over the phone more frequently.
  • They also uncovered that when it comes to sensitive data such as billing information, customers prefer putting their trust in a human agent over the phone rather than leaving a written trace.
  • Support call length has increased 16% in seven years, despite improvements in call center technology which expedite calls as a whole.
  • 48% of all support interactions take place over the phone and 80% of consumers choose it as their preferred way of interacting with customer service reps.
  • It also results in super high customer satisfaction, coming in with the second highest CSAT score at 88%, just slightly edged out by live chat at 92% in a recent Zendesk benchmark study.

Beyond those metrics, here’s a list of the pros and cons of offering phone support:

Pros & Cons

Promotes trust with your customers. People love being able to see a phone number on a website, because it makes them feel like there is a real person there that they are able to get in touch with. Chat and email can feel very “fake” or distant to people, whereas phone, to some demographics, feels very tangible.

Hard to scale. Because phone support requires so much attention and effort from the agents providing it, it can be difficult to scale. Instead of chat or email where you can implement tools and workarounds that scale as you grow, with phone support you just have to hire more people. That can get pretty expensive.

Creates higher brand value. Phone support can provide a human connection in an otherwise sometimes entirely online experience. If your competitors don’t provide support via phone, it can help increase the value of your brand as it’s perceived as an added product and service that you provide. Also, phone support is the fastest channel for solving customer complaints as you can get the issue resolved within the same conversation.

Phone trees can be a bummer to navigate, and customers can get stuck lost in them or, worse yet, have to call back to re-navigate. If you don’t have a simple, straightforward phone tree it can be an even worst experience than someone giving poor service via email. It’s worse still because it’s not even the fault of any person on the team, and likely the individual that ends up answering the support inquiry call will get the brunt of all of that customer’s frustration.

Better evolution of your brand. Because you’re closer to your customers, instead of simply relying on analytics like bounce rate, click-through rate, and conversion rate, you can talk directly to customers about their thoughts and feelings. You can also solicit feedback about your products to help improve. This not only helps your company and team evolve quicker, but it also makes customers feel valued because you care about what they think and feel.

Phones are disruptive to work. Anyone who has a phone has experienced being deep in something only to be drawn out of it by the buzz or ring of a phone or text. For phone support agents, this is ten times worse, as the volume of calls they receive are so much so that they seldom get the option of working on something outside of their queue, especially not with boxed out time.

Phone support is perceived as faster by customers because they have an immediate response from a person. Even if, ultimately, the time it takes the support agent to answer the question is a little bit longer, the fact that they answered the phone immediately (or very quickly) makes all the difference to most customers.

Slower and more consuming for employees. Unlike email or chat, it is very difficult to multitask when on the phone. For example, if a customer says something over the phone, and an agent doesn’t catch it, they have to ask again. Via email or chat, the agent can just reread the transcript to see if is something is missing. These kinds of small things mean that any agent answering support calls need to always be “switched on” or they might miss a detail that could potentially frustrate a customer.

The phone is great for one-on-one communication. When trying to clarify something with a customer directly, the phone can be an excellent way to gain a better understanding of what they’re running into trouble with.

It is hard to keep everyone in the loop at once on the phone, though. While you can do group calls or conference calls, it’s better to keep context and track of who is saying what in written format. Talking on the phone does not lend itself to multiple people being needed to solve an issue.

Now that you have the lay of the land with what you can look forward to and what you can dread when it comes to phone support, we’ve put together a few tricks of the trade to make it easy as you start your new journey.

Tips on phone support for the company

  • Offer a callback option. If you are offering phone support to a large group of users, you might run into trouble when it comes to scaling. Phone, while the most thorough and easy for customers, can take a lot of energy and effort for employees. Waiting in a phone queue with awful hold music is a bummer for customers — in fact, it’s a bummer even with good hold music. Invest in a system that allows you to give them an automated callback when the next representative is available. This saves them pain and strife in waiting for an available rep and automatically queues up the oldest calls for reps as needed.
  • Keep your phone navigation system simple. When people have to hang-up and call back again because they missed a step in your phone tree navigation, it is endlessly frustrating. Keep your phone navigation system simple and straightforward, and give customers an easy out to go back a step if they need to. You can also have separate lines for your sales, success, and support teams if you offer phone support for all of them to keep customers from needing to navigate one step deeper into a numerical system.
  • Use a phone answering service if you can’t be there all the time. Customers will call at any time of day that works for them, even if you have business hours listed next to your phone number. If you would like to avoid getting a number of voicemails every morning, invest in an after-hours answering service to help cover you when your team isn’t around. Speaking with an actual human is a much better experience than getting shifted into a voicemail that you aren’t even sure anyone is going to listen to.

Tips on phone support for the representative

  • Stand up while calling. Standing up and even walking around while talking on the phone with a customer can allow your voice to sound more energized and engaging. If you suffer from sometimes sounding bored, or getting sleepy while on the phone with customer after customer, standing up and moving around can help get your blood flowing and wake you up a bit more.
  • Smile while you call. This is a common saying where if you smile before you say something, it will sound more positive and uplifting. It’s true! Give it a try when you’re on the phone with a customer and see how different your voice and the things that you’re trying to convey sound. This can be anywhere in a call: at the very beginning, while you are trying to solve an issue, or when you are delivering news that might make the customer feel upset.
  • Save true warmth and enthusiasm until you hear the customer’s name. If you were just meeting a person, you wouldn’t be super excited about it until you actually knew a bit more about them, right? The same goes with talking on the phone with your customers. Instead of turning on the charm and excitement right off the bat, try to save the warmth and enthusiasm until after the customer has introduced themselves and you know a bit more about their situation. This will help it to feel genuine as well as actually be genuine — a plus for both sides!

Suggested Tools

While there are so many great phone services out there, Talkdesk is our favorite. It has a ton of robust features that are important and valuable to anyone trying to do support well. They offer:

  • Interactive voice response, which allows for recorded automated greetings.
  • Automatic caller screen, which gives the agent providing support additional context about the customer.
  • Two-way integrations, to add even more context and make for a better experience.
  • Call conferencing, which allows multiple people to hop on the line.
  • Call monitoring and whisper coaching, which allow managers to help coach and assist support representatives during the phone call in progress.
  • Call recording, to listen back and offer insights on how the call could have gone better.
  • Reporting and analytics to help better understand how your team is doing.

All of these features are so useful, whether your team’s been doing phone support for years or is just getting started.

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