previous icon Back to blog
Jul 17, 2023
7 minutes read

What are the most effective customer service channels?

If you want to update your contact details, perhaps your address, at a particular company, you'll often send a message and wait for a reply. And you wait. And wait some more. You may feel annoyed. Or perhaps you'll try to get the job done via another channel. Annoying right? Have you considered your customers may face this situation when contacting your business? Or thought how easy it is for your customers to reach you via their preferred channel?

Brechtje van Houtum
Brechtje van Houtum,
Content Marketer

Let’s face it. There’s not one list of the most effective customer service channels that work for every company. Every business, every person, and even every issue asks for a different approach. Demographics, the gravity of the situation, emotions, personal preferences, and physical context all come into play. At, we surveyed over 7000 consumers to determine their behaviour, preferences, and expectations regarding customer service. Hopefully, this data will help you find the most effective customer service channels.

In this blog, we’ll look at the most common channels and everything that impacts channel choice.

Believe it or not, the telephone is here to stay

The phone is still the most preferred channel for customer service, with 69% of consumers preferring to use it. Customers appreciate speaking directly to a person and an expert to solve their issues. Phone support is known for its fast response times. UK consumers expect to be helped within 9 minutes.

Most of our respondents (88%) want it to be as easy as possible to reach a company by phone. They expect to find the phone number on their website. However, four in five respondents say they only make a phone call when it’s really urgent. More than 1/3 are nervous about picking up the phone. When looking at our respondents’ age, an interesting pattern shows. Younger people are more nervous about calling a company than older people. Just under half of respondents assume they must be confrontational when contacting customer service.

Most respondents felt thankful when asked what emotions they generally experience during phone support. The personal approach is still valued in many situations. Although the position and way of communicating via phone might change, it won’t disappear just yet. So, how are you offering service via phone?

Email should be faster than traditional post

39% of consumers prefer to contact customer service via email. Email is generally used when there’s not too much urgency. However, expectations are high. Did you know UK consumers expect a response within 2.6 hours? While most companies aim to respond within one working day. That’s a big gap. Not surprisingly, customers using this channel are more likely to express impatience.

More and more companies see that email becomes obsolete as a customer service channel when their customers embrace other channels' ease and fast responses.

Face-to-Face service is personal, fast, and gratifying

One-third of our respondents prefer to be helped face-to-face, for instance, in a store. Customers using this channel express gratitude more often, making it a good option for handling complex or urgent issues that require a personal touch. UK consumers expect to be helped within 6 minutes, so avoid queuing.

Chatbots, frustrating or good self-service option?

The next favourite service channel is a chatbot. For 21% of respondents, this is their preferred channel. Customers using this channel express frustration more often than other channels. Chatbots can help handle a fair share of queries and provide fast responses, with an expected response time of a few minutes.

67% expect a company to be available 24/7. Most people first try to find a solution themselves before reaching out to customer service. However, when you ask them whether they prefer to be helped directly by a chatbot, or the next day by a human, they choose human support. 67% prefer to wait one day for human support over chatbot support. Chatbots cannot meet consumers’ expectations yet, which frustrates them. Train your chatbot well to ensure you can help your customers adequately.

Live up to consumer expectations with Live Chat

58% of consumers consider it important for companies to be reachable via live chat. This channel provides faster response times than email and allows customers to multitask while waiting for a response, with an expected response time of 1 hour. Customers using this channel express gratitude, but their expectations for service are lower than for phone support. Almost 80% expect more service via phone than via chat.

Whereas companies used to be hesitant to add live chat to their website, it’s fully embraced nowadays. Instead of investing more time and money, it saves them both. Integrate live chat with a chatbot to get the best of both worlds.

WhatsApp, Telegram, and WeChat: keep it short and simple

37% of customers expect customer service to be accessible via messaging platforms. While this may sound low, we see a big difference between age groups. About 50% of respondents younger than 35 expect to be able to reach companies via channels such as WhatsApp or Telegram. These channels are commonly used to communicate with friends and family, but consumers embrace them to contact businesses more and more too.

These channels provide fast response times, but UK consumers also have high expectations. They expect a response within 52 minutes and will let you know when it takes too long. Consumers using WhatsApp express impatience more often than gratitude. Keeping your messages short and simple will improve the conversation and time to a solution.

What impacts channel choice?

As mentioned before, everyone has their own preferences. So how do you know where to focus as a company? A few trends we see in the market impact channel choice. You can consider these to get to know your customers and their preferences and see what fits them best.

47% use multiple channels at once

Who likes to wait? Right, no one. Consumers use multiple channels simultaneously, only to get a faster response. Don’t focus too much on finding your customers’ favourite channel. Focus on efficiently managing all channels.

Prepare for the next generations

Gen Z and Millennials generally have other expectations than older generations. Over 70% of them expect customer service to be available 24/7. Moreover, they are likelier to walk away after a bad customer service experience. These youngsters are even more hesitant to reach out and are anxious about calling a company. Not surprisingly, for these generations, a company must be available via messaging apps and live chat. They are also more embracing chatbots than the previous generations.

35% feel impatient during service interactions

In customer service, we experience many emotions. Customers and employees. Did you know more than 35% feel impatient when contacting service? Emotions depend, of course, on the situation at hand, waiting times, and other feelings of that day. However, it’s also affected by the channel they choose. For personal contact, more people feel grateful. People tend to feel more impatient for channels with longer waiting times. It also works the other way around – emotions also impact channel choice. When someone is already annoyed, they’ll want a faster, more personal solution.

Not one interaction is the same

Nor is not one issue. When a customer has an easy question they want to verify quickly, a chatbot is probably sufficient. The urgency is not that high. But when it is high, for example, when a present didn’t arrive yet, but the birthday is tomorrow, they want to speak to you on the phone. Fast. Or when it gets emotional, think about when someone got sick or has personal circumstances to deal with; they’ll also want to speak to a real person. The last thing they want to worry about is the service they require—the type of issue and urgency impact channel choice greatly.

Living in the moment

How someone reaches out to customer service doesn’t only depend on the issue at hand, urgency, or emotional state. It’s also affected by the physical context. Where is the customer at that time? You might recognise it yourself: you’re at work when you remember you should ask your insurance if your new medicines are covered. A quick WhatsApp message does the trick. Or when you’re stuck in traffic and remember your new jacket should have arrived yesterday. Then it’s easier to (hands-free) call the webshop. Many interactions start in a moment while they are busy doing something else. Time also matters; if it’s late in the evening, sending an email or SMS is easier. You know you have to wait for a reply. During office hours, it can be easier to call.

So, what are the most effective customer service channels?

Hate to say it, but “it depends”. To be the most effective, be transparent. Show your customers how they can best reach you and what the expected waiting times are. Ensure you can manage all service channels efficiently from one tool.

A customer service strategy is different for every company. Get to know your (potential) customers, ask what they prefer, and use data to optimise continuously. Trial and error will get you there.

Optimise your customer service channels with

Was this article interesting?
Share it!
Brechtje van Houtum
Brechtje van Houtum,
Content Marketer
logo linkedin icon

As a content marketer, Brechtje is responsible for all content about our SaaS products. Loves to be up-to-date about new technologies and believes in 'customer first'.

Related articles

May 13, 2024 •

Happy clients, happy agents: the platform effect in customer service

As a member of the customer service team, you stand on the frontline of customer interaction every day. In a world where customers demand quick and personalised service, long wait times, impersonal responses, or worse, incorrect answers, can quickly drive a customer away. Your goal, however, is to connect customers with your organisation and deliver the best answers and service possible.

WhatsApp New Policy
Apr 15, 2024 • WhatsApp

Create quality customer engagement with WhatsApp Templates

We all want to get our brand messages out there. We want to engage with our customers, raise brand awareness and connect with our target audience. But how? Provide meaningful and relevant customer experiences to help grow your business and safeguard the way you communicate with both customers and potential customers with WhatsApp. In this blog, we'll explore how to create quality customer engagement with the WhatsApp Business Platform.

Feb 26, 2024 • WhatsApp

10 ways to optimise the customer experience with WhatsApp Business

WhatsApp dominates the messaging landscape in the United Kingdom, securing its position as the top messaging channel. According to Statista, WhatsApp stood out as the most used messaging channel in the UK in 2023.

WhatsApp vs Facebook Messenger
Feb 12, 2024 • Instant Messaging

WhatsApp vs Facebook Messenger: which messaging channel is right for your business?

WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are both established messaging channels for customer engagement. But what are the differences? Which advantages does each channel have for what business use case?

Feb 05, 2024 • WhatsApp

Drive engagement and increase conversion with WhatsApp Carousel

With two billion daily active users globally and ten million downloads annually in the UK, WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging channels. The WhatsApp Business Platform enables businesses to utilise this channel to connect with customers. It offers a variety of powerful engagement tools to enhance customer communication and boost sales. And now, WhatsApp has added another innovative feature: WhatsApp Carousel.

Ads That Click to WhatsApp
Jan 29, 2024 • WhatsApp

Click-to-chat WhatsApp ads: what are they and what are the benefits?

Effective marketing means creating personal and conversational experiences for your customers. And what better place to meaningfully connect to your customers than on their favourite social media platforms and channels such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram? With click-to-chat WhatsApp ads, which direct users on Facebook and Instagram to a WhatsApp chat when clicked, you can offer customers direct and personal engagement and make a seamless entry point to your business.

WhatsApp Pay
Jan 22, 2024 • WhatsApp

Build flexible, functional and rich interactions with WhatsApp Flows

WhatsApp Business Platform is adding another new and innovative feature to its repertoire: WhatsApp Flows. But what are WhatsApp Flows? And what can they do for businesses?

Jan 15, 2024 • Authentication

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) on different messaging channels

Data security is an integral part of any organisation. Yet, how can businesses protect sensitive information in a world where employees and customers access online accounts from multiple devices and channels? Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) is the answer.

Dec 14, 2023 • Customer Experience

Elevating experiences: customer engagement technology trends in 2024

As we approach 2024, the ever-evolving landscape of technology continues to shape how customers connect, consume and communicate with businesses. Forrester even predicts customer experience (CX) will improve for the first time in three years, meaning 2024 will be a pivotal year for engagement with every touchpoint becoming a make-or-break opportunity in the customer journey.

Is this region a better fit for you?
close icon