Question

How necessary is it to offer phone support as a new brand?

  • 24 August 2023
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We’ve had phone support as a channel since I started at Bespoke Post in 2017 (and before). It’s obviously a little more difficult of a channel to staff well, we often see slightly lower satisfaction scores with it, but we aren’t going to sunset phones or anything, because it feels necessary to offer it as a channel.

However, we recently spun off a private label brand into a standalone site and it’s starting to do well. Right now, we’re just on email support and receiving around 1200 inbounds per month. We plan to launch SMS as a support channel for this brand by the end of Q3.

As I think about the long term future of this satellite brand and how best to staff it from a CX perspective, I always thought we’d eventually offer phone support. I know it can be frustrating for customers who want to call but aren’t given an option to do so. But I’m wondering if similar size brands in 2023 are indeed offering phones or if they’re moving more towards chat/SMS/etc as the main (or sole) communication options.

Any thoughts or insight would be much appreciated, just looking for some thought-sharing here!


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Hey Brian 👋 I’m Amanda, I manage the community here. 

I think this is an excellent question. I’ve worked on numerous SaaS support teams and we didn’t offer phone support, and rarely heard feedback around that. I know this isn’t the same expectation when it comes to retail though.

That said, the Mirror team uses phone support. @nick_at_mirror tagging you in case you have thoughts here!

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Brian, we definitely do see end-customers biasing inbound towards async channels, but that’s seems largely dependent on three components: age demographic, complexity of the product/issue, and brand persona.

I see clients who cater more towards phone-oriented customers double down on that support channel. I also see clients where the brand itself is all about the white glove approach, so it suits the customer relationship to create that connection over a call.

The macro trend is definitely (perhaps sadly,) “if it can’t be said in a text, it isn’t worth saying” - many clients are opting to remove their support phone number entirely from their website as a result. This certainly frees up agent bandwidth/cost. In those scenarios, they still may offer calls to resolve specific complex issues or instruct agents to only offer that if they think it will benefit the relationship/resolution/secure a purchase. I also see clients only present the phone number to high LTV or VIP customers, which feels like a fair middle ground.

Will be curious to hear other’s thoughts on this.

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Hi Brian!

This is a really interesting question. Andrew hit the nail on the head with what I've observed around clients using phone.

I'm curious: do you feel like you have a handle on what creates lower satisfaction scores with phone support? I wonder if people tend to reach out there when they are feeling more upset or dealing with a complex/unsolvable issue in general, so it's always more likely to lag behind other channels in satisfaction. (This is purely a hypothesis. And I am definitely curious if other clients have seen a similar thing with phone and CSAT.)

I've seen at least one client shift volume away from phone support and towards SMS, and one other who was going as long as they could without phone as a way to see if they did need it. But these are just anecdotes.

Thanks for opening up this discussion!

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Hi @brian ! Getting back to a very late tag here!

For a new brand, especially one without a strong association with another known player, phone support can be essential to creating brand trust for your earliest adopters. Additionally, the soft insights you can gain from voice conversations with your users might be essential to developing your product & marketing. Offering a scheduled call service can be a way to target your staffing appropriately, especially if your calls are more “support” based. During holiday spike, offering a concierge gifting service via phone can be a great way to convert high-ticket sales. Hope that’s helpful!

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Hi @brian here at MANSCAPED™ since I’ve been a part of the team - over 4 years - we have never offered phone support. There is of course always going to be those customers who prefer to handle things over the phone but we have been very successful as a brand as a CX org without adding it into the mix. Every brand is different though I will say that. I am down to discuss further if you want! 

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