How to Pick the Best Customer Service Channels for your Brand

How to Pick the Best Customer Service Channels for your Brand

Customer expectations are higher than ever. According to Intercom’s recent Customer Service Trends report,  83% of customer service teams are noticing an increase.

Most customers want an answer about their issues immediately, and without a hitch. That’s a big reason why you need to think strategically about how you communicate with customers and the customer service channels you invest in.   

While it’s tempting to sprinkle your attention across a dozen different channels, consider choosing just a handful. That way, you can focus your efforts on resolving customer problems and can become an all-around more efficient team.

Let's dive into the most commonly used channels, like self-service, chatbots, and SMS messaging. Then, we’ll break down exactly how these channels work so you can make a sound investment for your support team.   

6 essential customer service channels

A majority of shoppers these days expect to have their issues solved quickly, successfully, and in their channel of choice. 

Salesforce reports that 78% of customers prefer to have access to a variety of engagement channels for support.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to find the proper channels that best suit your brand and audience demographics. That’s because customer service service channels aren’t one-size-fits-all — different audiences have different preferences. But, it’s helpful to understand basic channels and how they function so you can make an informed decision about where to invest your energy. 

We’ll walk you through the 7 essential channels that most organizations use to support their shoppers, like self-service options, email, and SMS messaging. 

1) Self-service: Help customers help themselves

A growing number of shoppers prefer self-service options, where they can quickly help themselves to solve their problems — no human interaction needed.

Research from Nice supports the trend to self-service options: 81% of surveyed consumers say they want brands to offer self service. 

An added bonus for implementing self-service options? It frees up your team to focus on higher-priority, or more complex, tickets. 

How to implement self-service in your customer support strategy 

A help center, sometimes called a knowledge base, is an example of self-service in customer support. It’s designed to provide detailed information that helps customers answer simple questions, like “Do you ship to my area?” 

This kind of self-service option can reduce ticket volume for your support agents.

For example, office furniture store Branch’s help center created using Gorgias, is like a one-stop shop to help customers solve common problems. 

Branch Help Center

Branch’s help center has an extensive offering of resources, including detailed shipping and delivery information. It also includes informative articles dedicated solely to answering customer’s most frequently asked questions. 

Help centers are a great starting point to power self-service support. Used in tandem with Gorgias’ automation add-on features, like Flows, your brand can become a support powerhouse. 

If you’re not ready to create a comprehensive help center, you can start out with a simple FAQ page. Check out our free FAQ template generator to get started. 

Read our guide on customer self-service to learn about indirect ways to boost customer satisfaction.

2) Live chat & chatbots: Create better customer experiences

Shoppers expect a quick answer to their issues — and 90% of customers in the US agree that an immediate response from a brand is important

One way to meet these rising customer expectations is to consider implementing both live chat and chatbots that work in tandem to provide a seamless experience.  

This way, you can leverage live agents during working hours, then let the bots take over customer queries when it’s time for your reps to clock out. 

Similarly, you can use a Flow via Gorgias to build in personalized, automated responses based on customer input. If the issue isn’t resolved by the bot, it can be automatically elevated to a live agent. 

Sol de Janeiro chat widget with quick response flows

How to implement live chat and chatbots in your customer service strategy 

Live chat is one of the most preferred methods of communication for shoppers. So much so, that 86% would rather interact with a human over a bot

The team at CROSSNET made use of live chat to quickly handle support tickets. Their efforts resulted in massive growth, including $450,00 in a single sale. 

Weaving an automation option into your customer service strategy helps your team provide a seamless customer service experience, working 24/7 to answer customer tickets even after your reps have gone home. 

Gorgias offers a few automation options that act as quick-response tools, like Quick Response Flows, Macros, and Rules, to help resolve tickets faster. 

With Macros, you can build premade responses and set up Rules to that trigger them when a customer asks a common question, like “where’s my order?” 

Gorgias Macros or pre-written templates

3) Email: Gain customer trust by responding quickly

Email is one of the most tried-and-true methods to communicate with customers. 

Unlike some of the other channels mentioned in this list, email support is an asynchronous method of communication. This is largely because a customer isn’t immediately connected to an agent or support resource. 

But, that doesn’t mean you can relax on your response time. Treat an email like the first step before a shopper leaves a bad review. Take steps to thoroughly read their message and offer a thoughtful response to resolve the issue.  

How to use email to support your customer service strategy

If an agent receives an email from an angry customer, a great first step is to apologize right away. 

From there, the agent can take steps to de-escalate the situation and offer a solution.  

{{Customer First Name}},

Thanks so much for your feedback on {{Concern or issue they had with the brand or their experience}}.

We strive to provide an amazing experience for all of our customers, and sometimes we fall short of doing that. We sincerely apologize for the experience you’ve had with our brand.

As a token of our appreciation, we’d like to offer you {{Discount code, free gift, free shipping on next order; whatever aligns with your policy}}. Have a great day,

{{Current agent first name}}

Read more about how to use emails in your customer service strategy + templates to respond to angry customers.

4) Messaging & SMS: Make your support convenient

Customer service SMS is quickly rising in the ranks as a preferred way for shoppers to get in touch with a brand. 

One reason for messaging’s popularity may lie in the fast response times. Most customers expect to have a response to their message within 10 minutes

Plus, a text message is convenient. Most people have mobile devices and they’re more willing to respond to a quick text in their day-to-day life. For some shoppers, it’s just easier to send a text than it is to find a contact-us page, or type up an email. 

How to implement SMS messaging in your customer service strategy

OLIPOP has seen an 88% decrease in response time since implementing SMS messaging — powered by Gorgias — in their customer support strategy.  

"Don't treat SMS like email - talk to these folks like they're your friends. That's something that OLIPOP does via SMS really well." - Claire Goodill, Head of Partnerships, Postscript

OLIPOP text messages

Gorgias offers a SMS messaging feature to power your customer support team. Once that’s set up, here are some tips make your messaging strategy even stronger: 

  • Keep the message concise.  
  • Be sure to personalize messages so customers feel valued. 
  • Build out templates your agents can use, so they aren’t reinventing the wheel every time. 
  • Consider infusing messaging with your brand’s voice and tone so it stays consistent with your other channels. 
  • Track first response times so you can be sure you’re responding to customers promptly. 


5) Voice & phone support: Creating person-to-person relationships

Reliable phone support is one of the most traditional forms of customer service channels out there. Voice support is one of the most powerful ways for support agents to foster empathy with customers. 

This empathy can lead to positive support outcomes as well — letting agents earn customer trust and boosting customer satisfaction metrics, or CSAT.

“I've seen that a phone call can actually turn things around,” says  Bri Christiano, Director of Customer Service at Gorgias. “Some people just need to be heard on the phone, especially people who are more used to having conversations over the phone. I've called angry customers, and if you let them speak and hear them out, and repeat back to them their frustrations, that alone will save that customer in the end.” 

Gorgias’s customers prove time and time again that voice is a powerful tool:  Our customers that use phones in their support strategy have an average Satisfaction score of 4.56 out of 5. 

How to use voice and phone support in your customer service channels 

Phone support works really well when it’s integrated into your organization’s overall support strategy. 

Try The World invested in Gorgias to help merge its customer contact channels into one cohesive platform, including phone. 

"Another big time-saver is the fact that chats, emails, and phone calls are united under one customer view. This way, when a customer calls, we immediately see previous conversations with them," says Amanda, the Customer Support Manager at Try The World. 

In Gorgias, when a customer calls for support, agents can pull up all other points of contact with the customer. This makes it easy for agents to give detailed and personalized support to handle customer issues. 

Example of customer timeline view on Gorgias

6) Third-party channels: Leverage social proof to boost brand awareness  

By 2025, Gartner estimates 60% of your customer base will turn to third-party channels, like social media or forums, for information about your brand. This makes a compelling case to invest in these channels and thoughtfully integrate them into your larger support strategy. 

It may be scary to think about shoppers talking about your brand in a place where you have little-to-no control of the narrative. But, third-party channels have a few benefits.

It’s a massively useful form of brand awareness that taps into social proof — aka, that your brand and its products are as great as they seem on your website. Plus, you can turn great posts from customers into marketing collateral, like user-generated content (UGC). 

When you take the time to respond to customers in third-party channels, it also shows prospective shoppers that your brand is dedicated to providing a really great experience. 

“It's really important to be monitoring social posts, even if you don’t have a massive following. These are public platforms where potential new customers are going to look at your brand and see immediately how you engage with customers,” says Bri Christiano, Director of Customer Service at Gorgias. 

Social media: Meet customers where they are

A growing number of younger shoppers — particularly Gen Z-ers — treat social media like a search engine. These shoppers use social platforms to answer their questions about brands and products by scrolling through content created by real customers. 

As social media customer service becomes more common, more and more shoppers will turn to social media platforms, whether through comments or DMs, to engage with brands.

Ecommerce, or direct-to-consumer brands, might see more success on platforms like Instagram or TikTok, while B2B organizations might want to lean heavily into a more professional platform like LinkedIn. It all boils down to where your target audience is already spending time online. 

A helpdesk can help your team keep track of customer communication on social channels.

These platforms are designed to integrate into your existing social media presence.

Gorgias, for example, pulls social media channels into one central space for your agents to easily monitor, respond to, and track comments or tags from customers. 

For example, Everyday Dose turned to Gorgias to help manage the massive influx of comments and DMs they received from shoppers on their social profiles. 

The main goals were to lower first-response and resolution times while maintaining high CSAT scores.

everydaydose Instagram post comments

After implementing Gorgias, Everyday Dose met their goals, reducing response time by 60% and saw resolution time reduced by 45%. On top of this, the brand was able to convert 30% more tickets into sales, giving their revenue a nice boost.  

Forums: Build community with your audience

Online forums are excellent spaces for community building. For shoppers, forums are useful to swap experiences or get information about a brand and its products. 

Some brands opt to build their own forums from the ground up, but there are many free options available you may already be familiar with, like Discord, Reddit or Facebook groups.

Do your research before building from scratch to see if your brand already has a word-of-mouth presence on a third-party forum.

Read more about the best practices to leverage online forums as spaces for community building. 

How to choose the right support channels to manage customer interactions 

We’ll let you in on a secret: When it comes to choosing the best customer support channels to invest in, there’s no perfect answer. 

You don’t need to use every channel out there in order to successfully and efficiently support your shoppers. The communication channels used by your team to manage customer expectations will differ across organizations. 

That’s largely because of who your target audience is and how your customer service team best communicates with them. 

For example, at Topicals, the customer support team leans into SMS messaging to follow up with customers. 

This works because an important part of their communication strategy is to sound relatable to skincare-conscious millennials and Gen Z-ers. 

SMS messaging is less useful for a company like Comme Avant, who sees a bulk of their customer support tickets come through social media DMs. 

To choose the best right channels for your brand, start by thinking about your audience. Some questions you may want to ask include: 

  • Where is my audience already hanging out online?
  • How does my audience prefer to communicate? 
  • How do our support agents typically interact with shoppers? 
  • Does my audience want a self-service option over a service agent? 
  • Is there a process to route complex customer issues to a different channel? 
  • How long is my audience willing to wait in a queue to troubleshoot their issues? 

The future of customer service is omnichannel

The old-school way of customer service was single-channel, mainly by way of call centers. 

Then, as technology evolved, customer service became increasingly multi-channel. This meant customers could reach a brand through channels like email, chat support, or phone calls, etc. 

Now, customer service has become about omnichannel support — allowing multiple channels to work together to form a cohesive system. 

Gorgias leverages omnichannel support by connecting a customer service team’s tools into one simple system. That way, agents can handle tickets across social media, SMS messaging, live chat, and more. 

It also gives your customers multiple touchpoints to reach your brand and allows them to communicate through a preferred channel for troubleshooting issues. 

Achieving true omnichannel support with a consistent customer experience across all channels is tough, but it is possible with support from a modern help management platform, like Gorgias


Frequently asked questions

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Alexa Hertel
The customer service platform built for ecommerce brands

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