When you start up a business, you have to consider how you will run your customer support operation.
If you’re a sole trader it may be hard to man the phones all day, so you may favour email support. Larger companies may also offer email support, but have more resources to offer the customers in terms of phone support.
It’s hard to know what your customers prefer, so here we’ll look at the advantages and disadvantages of phone v email support.
Many small business owners rely on their mobile phones to run their business, but this isn’t always the best way to handle customer queries. Ideally you need someone else to handle your customer support, leaving you free to run your business.
- One of the big advantages of offering telephone support is that your customers usually get a resolution to the query quickly. Sometimes a complex query can involve asking lots of questions and one phone call means your customers can go away with a swift resolution to their problem.
- People still like the human touch, and being able to talk to a human being about a problem can give your customers confidence in your business. It also gives you the opportunity to pick up on other concerns your customers may have so you can address those at the same time.
- The big disadvantage of offering phone support is that you have to offer this service all day. For a sole trader this can be difficult and you may not be able to afford to pay someone to sit by a phone waiting for calls. There is a solution to this as there are companies who can help. One such firm is takemycalls.co.uk/. They offer phone support to companies of all sizes and can provide you with a package based on the size of your company and the number of calls you are likely to take. Smaller businesses will only pay them for calls they actually take.
- For some customers having to phone a company may seem like an inconvenience. It means they have to stop what they are doing to dial, wait for someone to answer and potentially wait on the phone while their query is resolved. If someone has a busy schedule, it can simply be too difficult trying to find the time to make a call.
- If you speak to someone on the phone, you can’t keep a log of the call, which means there is nothing to refer to in the event of a complaint.
One of the most common complaints with customers who phone is the trouble they have getting through to the right person. Pressing buttons to get through to a department can be frustrating and often time consuming. If you do offer phone support, try to ensure that your customers can speak to someone as soon as they can with minimal wait time.
Email support is becoming increasingly popular, though some customers still prefer to speak on the phone.
- Every email sent and received will keep a log of a conversation, and these can be saved or printed to be referred to at a later date. This way there is never any doubt about what was said.
- For some customers, being able to sit and type out their question means they can get more detail in to their query so that it can be resolved easier.
- If you need to refer a particular query to someone else, it’s easy to forward an email on for their input.
- Email support means your customers can send their email and carry on doing something else while they wait for a reply. For some this is a better use of their time than waiting on the phone.
- There can be a delay in receiving an email reply. Most companies have an automated reply set up saying they will respond within 24 or 48 hours and in most cases customers are willing to wait as long as they do receive a reply within the allotted timescale. If the query is urgent, this delay can be too long.
- With a phone call it’s very easy to pick up on a person’s tone but when you email the tone of an email can be misconstrued. When responding to emails you need to be very clear and concise with what you say and be very careful that what you say cannot be taken the wrong way.
No matter which option you decide on, you must make sure that your customer service is set up to provide the best support to your customers. Whether you use email or phone support, or a mix of the two, you should always respond as quickly as you can and always be polite and professional.