Paolo Fabrizio
May 10, 2022

Why Phone and Live Chat Channels are Siblings

Phone and Live Chat

In the race for Digital Customer Service, many organizations have added new channels in the last few years. Some had set clear goals, others instead had ‘hoped’ that their assumptions came true. Unfortunately, most of the time they just didn’t. Today, after the pandemic rush towards digital channels, it’s time for many companies to sit around the table and have a serious conversation about the next mile. In this article, I’m going to focus on the strange relationship between phone and live chat support.

So Far, So Close

At first sight you may think that customer service over the phone is totally different than live chat. That’s indeed the first impression since the phone is a traditional channel based on voice conversations, whereas the latter is digital and based on written interactions. However, there are also hidden similarities between them that have led some organizations to re-arrange their digital customer service channel strategy over time. So let’s have a look at major similarities between them below in this table.

PHONE LIVE CHAT
– Synchronous channel (real time interactions). – Synchronous channel (almost real time interactions).
– Fast paced conversation. – Fast paced conversation.
– Customers expect in-channel resolution. – Customers expect in-channel resolution.
– The shorter the conversation, the better. – The shorter the conversation, the better.
– Tool: smartphone – Tool: smartphone or desktop.

You may also want to read: How To Master Live Chat Support Conversations Like a Maestro

A Real Case Example

Now, are you still thinking about these support channels with the same eye? I can tell you that some organizations I have conversations with have radically changed their approach in the last months. To give you an example, they’ve started delivering Digital Customer Service over messaging channels (Whatsapp, Telegram) to instill phone deflection. Now, 2 years on they:

  • Enjoyed partial results – i.e. they had expected an even larger volume of enthusiastic customers to use messaging channels instead of the phone.
  • Underrated that people need time to change long-lasting habits and behaviors. Even though the pandemic has boosted the demand for digital support, customers need to try new channels, have good experiences and digest them. Only after this process, which is different for each person, do they feel confident to leave the safe old harbor (i.e. the phone).
  • Want to switch from messaging to live chat in order to pursue the same goal. The reason why? They consider live chat as the ‘the silent sibling of the phone’. Accordingly, they assume it will be easier for them to move customers from one channel onto the other – and viceversa in specific situations.

Is this a winning strategy? Well, only time will tell…

Related: if you deliver support over live chat you will love this article, which includes a customer engagement analysis.

Over To You

When it comes to customer service there is no perfect channel. A channel is just a tool, but it’s THE conversation that permeates customer experience. So when you consider, for instance, phone and live chat, think about the processes and customer engagement you need to build, beforehand. Otherwise, you’ll be tempted to discharge the responsibility for any failure on channels – but that’s not the best way to learn from mistakes and stand out from competitors.

Have great conversations.

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Paolo Fabrizio

Digital Customer Service Consultant, Trainer, Author, Speaker. Paolo has been helping companies to harness digital customer service as a business driver. Founder of CustomerServiceCulture, author of books and speaker at conferences in Italy and abroad. Lecturer at the Bicocca University of Milan