December 13, 2023 By Keith O'Brien 4 min read

Conducting the best customer service strategy today requires organizations to invest in several customer service types. This way, organizations can ensure their customer base receives answers to their problems in the format they prefer.

Customer service is an integral part of the customer experience. It has increasingly become an omnichannel discipline where every customer prefers to communicate on varying channels. Therefore, meeting customer needs requires an organization to enable different ways customers can receive responses to their issues depending on their preferences. Resolving issues for customers on their preferred channel can increase customer satisfaction, customer retention and brand loyalty.

Read the blog: How generative AI is transforming customer service

Customer service types that organizations should prioritize

By offering different types of customer service and several customer support channels, organizations demonstrate they are investing in customer care. They also demonstrate they understand the importance of customer engagement and will do what it takes to meet customer expectations. Here are some key types of customer service to prioritize:

Phone support

Many customers will still want to pick up a phone and talk to a live customer service agent, no matter how many new ways organizations offer. Maintaining a call center or help desk of customer service representatives who await phone calls can be expensive. But ultimately providing a human touch to those callers who want it is important to provide a great customer service experience.

Organizations are increasingly looking to augment those customer service reps with technology to increase efficiency and reduce costs. One such way is by using Interactive Voice Response (IVR), which utilizes pre-recorded messages and text-to-speech solutions. Used at the beginning of calls, IVR can better route requests, reduce response times and potentially solve issues before requiring a support agent.

Chatbots

Chatbots are computer programs where users are asked to either choose from a list of pre-selected questions or type into an open field the question they’re trying to answer. From there, the chatbot uses automation to scan the database of responses and provide the most relevant response. In most scenarios, chatbots offer the option of live chat support with the customer service team if the chatbot responses fail to answer the customer’s question.

With advances in artificial intelligence (AI) such as generative AI, chatbots can answer more questions more accurately. As such, chatbots are becoming an increasingly important customer service channel for both organizations and customers. Customers like them because they can provide more answers than a human agent and organizations like them because it can decrease staffing costs and reduce errors.

Email support

Many customers prefer to address their needs asynchronously by sending an email and awaiting a response. They can send an email to a general support email address where it can be routed to the most appropriate member of the customer support team.

Frequently asked questions

Also known as FAQs, many organizations use the same template for these simply written questions and answers. Often featured on an organization’s website, they usually list the questions in a row and allow the user to click on the one that addresses their issue, which will then show the detailed answer below.

Knowledge base

Organizations have increasingly invested resources in databases where users can search for articles and forum posts. This form of self-service customer support is increasingly popular for people who prefer being proactive and solving the issue themselves without needing to talk to a human representative or wait for an email response.

Organizations like knowledge bases because they minimize the use of employees, making it a cost-effective way to solve customer problems. It is especially valuable for complex issues that may have multiple causes, which the customers can investigate by reading multiple articles.

Social media support

The rise of company profiles on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others created the need for social media customer service. Customers now either reply to brand posts on these channels or post directly to their followers. This requires organizations to monitor their channels and use tools that create notifications every time their brand is mentioned.

Unlike other communication channels, social media posts are broadcast to the public. That can turn an individual issue into a much larger corporate reputation issue if not immediately addressed. For example, a customer could post on social media that a product is faulty and is at risk of injuring its users. That could lead to many potential customers failing to purchase the product out of fear of the same issue happening to them.

Technical support and troubleshooting

Customers who know their specific issues can reach out to the organization for specific help. There, a member of an IT or DevOps team can walk through the problem with an individual and provide real-time instructions for them to fix the problem themselves. When the issue affects a product connected to the internet like a computer, sometimes the tech support staff can remotely take control of the product and try to fix the problem that way. If both approaches fail, the customer may need to send in the product or visit a repair center for a representative to resolve the issue in person.

Customer service continues to be a technology-driven field

Providing excellent customer service drives increased customer loyalty and therefore has increasingly become a major competitive advantage for organizations that get it right. Studies have shown that poor customer service is the top reason consumers stop purchasing from a company.

While customer service remains a human agent-intense process, advances in technology like AI will continue to supplement those workers and begin to provide a much better autonomous response to customer queries.

Customer service has become the CEO’s number one priority for generative AI investment with the promise of helping organizations meet the dual challenges of rising customer demands and operational costs.
 
IBM has been helping enterprises apply trusted AI in this space for more than a decade. And now generative AI has further potential to significantly transform customer and field service with the ability to understand complex inquiries and generate more human-like, conversational responses. IBM Consulting offers end-to-end consulting capabilities in experience design and service, data and AI transformation. Using watsonx™, IBM’s enterprise-ready AI and data platform, and watsonx™ Assistant, IBM’s market-leading conversational AI solution, we partner with you through the AI value creation process to enhance conversational AI, improve the agent experience and optimize call center operations and data.

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