Live Chat, Social Media Or Phone? Which Do You Prefer For Customer Support?

I’m not normally an impatient person, but I can’t think of anything that can be more of a time suck than being placed on hold by a company’s customer support department for long periods of time, often leading to my disconnecting because I have run out of time and patience.  You know you are in trouble when you hear a recorded message at the very beginning of your call: “Your wait time is approximately 45 minutes”!

Valuing a customer’s time is critical to great customer service.  Online live chat is proving to be one of the best service channels for meeting customers’ needs throughout their journey, from first contact through post-sale support. As an online tool, it meets customers in the very place they increasingly turn for answers: the Internet. And unlike other channels such as email, live chat provides instant support, with minimal customer effort required.

Since the arrival of social media platforms like Facebook & Twitter, service providers have found that many of their customers spend plenty of time on them daily.  To make it more convenient to customers, many service providers have set up a webcare team as a support channel on their social media profiles.

I’ve become a fan of these on-line alternatives to speaking directly to customer support representatives over the phone.  Whether it’s an issue with my cable company, tech support from my cell phone manufacturer or my cell phone service provider, or an inquiry about a rebate on my washing machine,  I’ve had better luck with live chat.  There are no hold times, the conversations are quick and painless, I can chat at my convenience ( most are 24 hours), and I even get a record of the chat.  I even used live chat to purchase a mattress when I had questions regarding a product while navigating the website.   I recently took to Twitter to ask questions of my cable provider when I was having trouble streaming on one of my devices.  I was pleasantly surprised the issue was resolved promptly and without any inconvenience on my part.  Live chat and social media aren’t always the appropriate medium for connecting with a company, like for discussing complex financial issues, but for shopping or tech questions, or straight forward customer service inquiries, I think it can be ideal.

A recent study found younger people (ages 18 to 34) are more likely to have used live chat “once,” “a few” or “many times,” while older people
(aged 55 and over) are more likely to have “never used” live chat, or to have used it without success (meaning, they were
unsuccessful in getting their question answered).

Is preference for speaking to a person a generational thing or more of a “connectivity” thing?  If you spend a lot of time on-line and prefer not to interrupt for a phone call, live chat might be for you.  However, if you are the type of person who actually enjoys the phone interaction, you might not mind the wait time.  You might even enjoy the conversation, get your issue resolved, and make a new friend!  At least, we now have choices!

Please share your thoughts regarding your customer support interaction preferences!

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