8 Types of Customer Service

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 25, 2021

Published February 8, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Effective customer service is a key part of any successful business venture. In recent years, customers have started using digital communication tools to give companies feedback about products, which has resulted in the creation of new customer service tools. Now that customers can leave public reviews all over the internet, it has become a necessity for companies to offer multiple channels for customer service. In this article, we outline eight types of customer service that agents around the globe have adopted to address customer needs.

Related: 10 Outstanding Customer Service Examples

What is customer service?

Customer service is the support a company offers to its customers. This support begins during the purchasing process and usually extends past the purchasing date. During the purchasing process, companies typically provide customers with advice and information about products or services they sell. This can help consumers make informed decisions. Then, when customers commit to buying a product or service, companies often provide them with troubleshooting tools and problem-resolution support.

Offering excellent customer service is important for businesses looking to grow their brand loyalty and maintain their customer base. Successful companies create an environment where customers feel comfortable coming to customer service agents for assistance. When customers are confident that they will receive the help they need, they're more likely to return to that same company for future purchases. Customer service is all about fulfilling the promise your brand makes to customers during the purchasing process.

With the increasing use of digital communication tools, many companies have started offering customer support on various platforms. Beyond the telephone, customers can now find support via email, webchat, text message and even on social media. There are many tools at a company's disposal to help agents provide customers with the help they need.

Read more: Guide To Customer Service

8 different types of customer service

Here are eight different types of customer service that companies can offer:

Live chat support

Customers can use live chat support to instant message a service agent on a company's website. Agents instant message back and forth with customers to provide solutions and answer questions. This tool is very popular because it provides customers with quick and direct support compared to typical phone conversations. Not only do customers usually reach service agents within a matter of seconds with live chat, but the instant and web-based format usually means customers can multitask when wait times do occur.

Email support

Email was one of the first digital innovations used for customer service purposes, and it's still a great way for companies to offer support. Customers contact companies by sending messages to a designated email address, which is typically displayed on the company's webpage. While email support is often a little slower than live chat support, it still provides customers with the ability to contact service agents through a text-based format without directly interacting with another human. This helps customers document important information, explain themselves clearly and avoid time-consuming efforts to receive support.

Related: 20 Customer Service Tips

Self-service support

Self-service support primarily exists in the form of frequently asked questions (FAQs) published on a company's website. This tool works well for customers who typically do their own research before contacting customer support through more direct channels. Also, customers who know a fair amount about the products they use can usually navigate self-service support technologies easily to find the exact answers they're seeking. Most companies offer self-service support options nowadays, and they typically supplement other direct forms of customer service.

Interactive voice support

Interactive voice support is an automated telephone system that interacts with customers in a limited fashion through a dial pad and voice requests. Interactive voice is a great way for companies to support customers with very simple questions without needing to have actual agents present. Also, interactive voice systems can be updated frequently to store relevant information that customers are looking for. This makes it so that live support agents don't need to answer every single question customers have. They can focus on helping them resolve issues that the voice support can't handle.

The fundamental challenge of using interactive voice systems is that customers aren't interacting with an actual human, which means they will sometimes be redirected or put on hold many times. Companies can avoid this if they strategically and purposefully design their interactive voice systems to allow customers to request help from a live agent when necessary.

Related: Working in Customer Service: Everything You Need To Know

Social media support

Now that social media is one of the most popular digital tools used for communication across the globe, companies have adapted it to serve as a powerful channel for customer service. To offer social media support, agents constantly monitor a company's social media presence on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to answer customer inquiries in comments and messages.

A large portion of social media support is done through crisis management—customers often publish reviews of companies and products on these public platforms in order to get the help they need urgently. Agents then respond to these reviews publicly and offer solutions, which can help maintain customer loyalty. An added bonus occurs when other users read positive exchanges between customers and service agents. This can be a great marketing tool for a company, as it shows their commitment to meeting customer needs.

Related: 15 Online Customer Service Jobs

Web commerce support

Web commerce support is when companies offer advice and information for customers during the purchasing process. It typically occurs when customers sign on to a website to purchase a product or service and find themselves with questions. To answer those questions, companies often publish Q&As about certain products or allow customers to ask each other questions on the product's page within their web platform. This type of support helps customers find answers on their own—similar to self-service support—but makes it easier for customers to find product-relevant information in a timely manner.

On-site support

On-site support is offered in person at business locations or customers' homes. Companies use on-site support to provide repairs and troubleshooting services to customers with technological issues or consulting needs. The biggest advantage of offering on-site support is that it allows agents to interact with customers on a more personal basis, which can help them build stronger customer relationships to make repeat business more likely. Even further, customers are typically drawn to support solutions that are convenient for them, such as when service is delivered to their door.

Telephone support

Telephone support is a classic way of offering customer service. To receive telephone support, customers call agents on the phone to ask questions and explain their problems verbally. This allows them to describe complicated situations with ease. There are some challenges in telephone support processes, like poor cellular service that can lead to dropped calls and limited staff availability that can lead to long wait times. Nevertheless, telephone support allows agents to better assess a customer's tone and emotions, and it helps older generations who are not as technologically savvy access great service.

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