9 Leading Customer Service Channels (And How to Select the Right Ones)


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Thursday, February 16, 2023

Customer service is no longer limited to call centers. Nowadays, companies can support their valued clients across multiple channels. But which ones are the most effective for meeting your customers’ needs?

Article 7 Minutes
9 Leading Customer Service Channels (And How to Select the Right Ones)

Most modern businesses are adopting an omnichannel approach to customer service that spans multiple channels and touchpoints. For 89% of consumers, a positive support experience makes them more likely to make another purchase.

There’s no doubt that customer service can have a huge impact on your business’s bottom line. With this in mind, here’s a look at the leading channels for ensuring your audience can access the support they need.

Top 9 customer service channels  

Consider the following channels when optimizing your customer support strategy. 

1. Phone 

Although the phone may seem like an old-fashioned medium when compared to email or social media live chat, the reality is that most customers still expect it from the businesses they interact with. In fact, research by CFI Group found that 76% of consumers preferred the traditional medium of phone calls to reach customer support representatives. Additionally, it provides the most human support experience, as customers can speak to live agents making it easier for both parties to avoid miscommunications and get their issues resolved faster. 


  • Enables agents to offer personalized, one-to-one support in real-time 
  • Preferred method of communication across demographics


Learn more: Empower Your Agents: How to Do More with Less

2. SMS messaging 

SMS messaging is a convenient, fast and accessible way for businesses to provide customer support. In 2022, 70% of consumers opted in to receive texts from businesses and one in three consumers checked their text notifications within one minute of receiving a text. 

Texts have an extremely high open rate of 98%, which makes them a great way to provide customers with timely responses. It’s important to note that mobile messaging doesn’t just refer to SMS, as companies can also connect with customers using messaging services like Whatsapp, Telegram and Facebook Messenger. 


  • Provide quick and simple support for easy-to-solve issues 
  • Texts offer a high open and response rate


  • Can feel impersonal  
  • Limits response lengths 

3. Email support 

IFP’s State of Customer Experience in 2022/23 report found that email is the most common customer service channel used by customer support teams and 61% of respondents said they planned to keep using it in the next 12 months. 

With over 4 billion email users worldwide, it’s no surprise that this ubiquitous medium has become the go-to way for customers to connect with brands with questions or problems - not to mention it’s one of the most low-cost customer service channels for businesses. 

Email is effective because it allows for asynchronous communication, and means that agents can handle multiple requests simultaneously. Although some requests may require real-time communication, email meets a range of support requirements. However, it’s important to ensure emails have an element of personalization to bring a human touch to the experience. 


  • Highly accessible, customers can send and receive support requests from anywhere 
  • Agents can attach files/links to better help customers


  • Not ideal for handling complex issues as this can result in too much back and forth  
  • Can be impersonal and lead to miscommunication

4. Self-service/knowledge base 

Self-service options are a way to empower your customers to seek support on their own time without having to wait for a response from an agent. According to a survey, 77% of customers say they view brands more positively if they offer self-service support options. 

Self-service resources can include your blog, webinars, a knowledge base on your website, downloadable guides or FAQs.. All of these can help customers find solutions to their problems quickly and effectively. Moreover, these resources are evergreen and benefit countless customers so your agents can tackle more complex issues.  


  • Doesn’t require human interaction 
  • Provides customers with quick solutions when they need them 


  • Can be confusing to navigate, which is why it’s important to ensure self-service options are intuitive for users 
  • Lacks personalization 

5. Social media 

4.7 billion people around the world now use social networks and almost half of enterprise companies plan to implement social media support over the next 12 months. 

Nowadays, it’s almost impossible for companies to operate without profiles on ubiquitous platforms like Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. Not only is social media integral to digital marketing, but it’s also an important customer support channel that allows companies to provide timely support where their audience is already spending their time.   


  • Allows customer service reps to provide fast and direct support and decreases customer effort 
  • Enables companies to practicse social listening to highlight problems or feedback they may not be aware of  


  • Social media support can limit the scope of interaction 
  • Customers are more prone to being impolite on social media  

Learn more: 

6. Online forums 

Online communities and forums can provide customers with a way to seek support from other consumers, reducing the burden on your support team and empowering individuals to find solutions on their own terms. Additionally, online forums are a space where customers can share their own opinions and experiences with others. 


  • Bolsters a sense of community around your brand 
  • A form of self-service support that frees up your agents’ time


  • Easy to spread misinformation 
  • Not always under control 

7. Live chat 

Live chat is a great middle ground between phone and email support as it enables customers to get quick answers with minimal effort and wait times. Agents can understand customer needs in real-time, leading to quicker response rates, cultivating brand loyalty and improving customer lifetime value. It’s no wonder that, according to IFP and RingCentral research, 50% of contact center leaders plan to add live chat to their multi-channel strategy in the next year. 


  • Immediate support for customers 
  • Efficient use of agents’ time 


  • Users are often frustrated by scripted and impersonal responses 
  • Availability can be affected by time zones and disappoint customers outside traditional business hours 

8. Video chat 

Although it may not be an option for all companies, video chat is on the rise with 36% of businesses planning to incorporate it in their customer service strategy in the next 12 months. 

Video calls are an effective way to handle certain types of support enquiries, such as technical issues, as agents can share their screens to guide customers through processes.  


  • Highly personalized and interactive 
  • Allows agents to share their screen for faster resolution


  • Requires additional training 
  • Can be expensive depending on the contact center solution 

9. On-site 

Offering on-site, face-to-face support is the ultimate way to offer personalized customer service. However, it’s simply not feasible for everyone, particularly large enterprises with customers all over the world.  


  • Highly personalized, agents can interpret clients’ facial expressions and body language 
  • In-person connections help you to build trust with customers  


  • Limits customers to regular working hours 
  • People may feel uncomfortable asking for help in person 

How to choose the right customer service channels that work for your business and your customers 

You don’t have to offer every support channel available. There are some steps you can take to optimize your customer service strategy to ensure it meets the needs of your business and your customers. 

  • Conduct an audit of your existing support channels: The customer service you provide should be excellent, so make sure to look at how the support channels you currently offer are performing and improve them before adding others into the mix.  
  • Ask your customers: Give the people what they want. Create a survey to help you understand who your customer base is, what type of questions they have and what support channels they expect from the companies they engage with.  
  • Ensure you’re meeting industry standards: If you don’t offer what your customers anticipate from their favourite brands, they’re likely to take their business elsewhere. Make sure you acknowledge their expectations and look at what your competitors are doing to ensure you offer the same, but better. 

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