Blog

6 Types of Conversational Customer Service + How to Implement Them

14.0
min
-
Tina Donati
-
Nov 27, 2023

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Blog

6 Types of Conversational Customer Service + How to Implement Them

min
-
Tina Donati
-
Nov 27, 2023

‎Today, 80% of customers say the experience a company provides is just as necessary as its products or services. Conversational customer support can provide more memorable experiences that keep shoppers engaged long-term.

And, conversational customer support doesn’t demand an endless investment of personal time. With the right tools and strategies, you can exceed customer expectations.

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What is conversational customer service?

Conversational customer support is an interactive approach to assisting customers with their queries and concerns. This communication style uses a range of channels, including live chat, messaging apps, chatbots, and even voice support, to engage customers in interactive and often real-time conversations across the customer journey.

The goal is to create a friendly and genuine interaction, which in turn enhances customer satisfaction, builds brand loyalty, and fosters long-term relationships with their customers. Consumers who rate a company's service as "good" are 38% more likely to recommend that company (according to the Qualtrics XM Institute). 

Advantages of conversational customer service vs. traditional

When you walk into a physical store, you expect the staff to be knowledgeable, friendly, and ready to assist you. 

The same principle applies to online shopping. However, traditional customer support often involves shoppers searching across a website for a contact center to make a phone call, where they’re then placed on long holds while waiting to contact a real human. 

Conversational customer support, on the other hand, offers immediate responses, operates 24/7, and uses natural language processing for a more efficient and convenient customer experience. In return, businesses see the following benefits: 

Faster responses, anytime, anywhere

Today's customers expect rapid responses. According to Hubspot research, 2/3 of customers expect a reply in under 10 minutes. Embracing a conversational approach and automating your customer support channels can help you meet these expectations. 

One way to achieve this is with Gorgias Automate, which allows you to offer 24/7 support and can answer up to 60% of your most repetitive tickets with a 0-second response time. 

More personalized experiences, more profits

Personalization is one of the most important pillars of conversational service. But “personalization” has become a bit of a blanket statement over the years, so what does it actually mean? 

Personalized customer support is about assisting customers based on their specific needs, preferences, and history with a business. It goes beyond generic responses and addresses customers on a personal level by using relevant data like purchase history and intent-based engagement.

That’s why it’s crucial to use a support platform that can pull relevant information about customers from the rest of your ecommerce tech stack (CRM, marketing automation, logistics), making it easier to automate tailored responses and give your agents all of the context they need to help customers efficiently.

Excellent customer service = more revenue

Conversational customer service isn’t just good for improving customer satisfaction scores; it’s also excellent for your bottom line. McKinsey research has shown that improving the customer experience has increased sales revenues by 2-7% and profitability by 1-2%.

Customers at Gorgias often see this kind of success. For example, skincare brand Topicals increased sales by 78% using conversational customer support. Specifically, the brand uses Quick Response Flows to automate answers to common questions, such as: 

  • How should I use the Faded Serum?
  • Where do you ship?
  • How do I apply to the Ambassador Program?
  • How do I find the right products for my skin type?

All of this takes place within a self-service chat. These chat flows also guide shoppers to additional helpful resources in Topicals' Help Center or product pages. If a customer still has unanswered questions, a customer support agent can take over the conversation and chat with them directly.

Cost efficiency through automation

Businesses often avoid personalized support due to perceived cost and time constraints. However, providing personalized service can actually increase customer loyalty and boost revenue.

Automation, intelligent responses, and customer knowledge bases abstract away the tedious, repetitive questions support teams get daily. This frees up their time, allowing them to focus on driving conversions through pre-sales support and building strong customer relationships. 

Take Stoov, the Dutch company known for its innovative heating cushions. A conversational approach to customer support helped Stoov achieve 10% in cost savings.

Thankfully, automation has come a long way since its earlier days. (We all remember those generic, one-size-fits-all answers that clearly came from a robot.) 

Some helpdesks like Gorgias offer more interactive automation, which provides personalized answers based on customer inputs and key phrases.

Multichannel accessibility

Conversational customer service can be seamlessly deployed across various communication channels, including websites, mobile apps, messaging apps, and social media platforms. 

Taking a cross-channel approach means businesses (and their customers) aren’t limited to a single mode of communication. Instead, they can engage with customers across various channels, catering to diverse preferences and enhancing overall convenience.

Again—offering customer support across various channels doesn’t have to be challenging to manage. 

Gorgias pulls in customer conversations from channels like email, SMS, Messenger, WhatsApp, and more to view and respond to customers in a single dashboard. Omnichannel communication demonstrates a company’s commitment to being present and responsive wherever their customers may be.

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6 conversational customer service channels

As you know, ​​one size doesn't fit all when it comes to customer service. Every shopper has their preference, so a blend of automated assistance and human touchpoints is necessary for exceptional customer support. 

Let’s talk about six key channels to leverage.

1) Live chat

Live chat is like having a helpful assistant available at the click of a button. It involves instant, text-based communication between a customer and a live support agent, accessible through a website or messaging platform. 

This approach provides immediate assistance, helps resolve issues promptly, and adds a personalized touch to customer interactions. 

One of our favorite examples is from Princess Polly. In its live chat widget, Princess Polly highlights several FAQs upfront. These are based on the most common questions the support team gets and help customers be more self-serve. Plus, it’s easy for the customer to get in touch with a live agent if they still need support.

2) Phone support

Phone support is the classic, tried-and-true method of customer service. Customers can call the business directly to seek assistance, ask questions, or resolve issues. Interaction happens in real-time with live human agents, creating a direct and personal connection.

Did you know an annual study on buyer behavior shows that 59% of consumers prefer the traditional medium of phone calls to reach customer support representatives?

In other words—yes, shoppers still use phone support, and it can be beneficial for you to offer it.

You can also manage phone support with the rest of your channels under one roof using Gorgias. For example, Try The World, a gourmet subscription service, uses live chat, email, and phone support as its three primary support channels. 

"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."
- Amanda, Customer Support Manager, Try The World

After switching to Gorgias as its helpdesk to centralize all support queries, the team also integrated the helpdesk with Chargify and Shopify to pull in subscription and order data. All this information is readily available for each support agent — whether they’re providing support via phone or live chat. 

This approach transformed Try The World’s efficiency — as a result, the team increased ticket handling from 80 to 120 per day while reducing response time to just one business day.

3) SMS and WhatsApp

Messaging apps like SMS and WhatsApp have become integral parts of our daily communication. Both of these channels are helpful for brands that want to offer “on-the-go support.” 

While these two channels are great for marketing purposes, they’re also perfect support channels. Think about it: SMS always has the highest open rates and is one of the most convenient ways for shoppers to connect with the brands they love.

As a support channel, you can complement your SMS marketing efforts. A good example of this is from Printfresh. The Printfresh team uses SMS often to share updates with customers. Customers can also use the same number to text the brand back and ask any support-related questions. 

4) Email support and ticketing systems

While not instant like live chat, email and ticketing systems allow customers to submit inquiries or issues, which support agents address in an organized manner. Automated responses and ticket tracking enhance the efficiency of this method. 

You may be wondering, how is email support conversational? First off, conversational support doesn’t always have to be in real-time. 

Sometimes, providing well-thought-out, detailed responses via email or tickets can be equally effective, allowing customers to digest information at their own pace. 

When you’re pairing these responses with personalized information (perhaps you already know the customer’s size, preferred tastes, or skin type), you’ll be able to respond effectively and guide customers through their decision-making.

Love Your Melon uses this approach with customer service email and social media support. Pulling Shopify variables into Gorgias, the team enables Macros to streamline personalized responses. 

Aside from using usual variables in canned responses, such as the requester's name, email, or the support agent’s name, Macros allow users to add information pulled from Shopify. These order-specific variables include the order ID, the tracking URL of the last order, the delivery status, the shipping address, and many others.

With this single strategy, Love Your Melon can answer 25% of tickets automatically, reducing response time from 10 minutes to a few seconds.

5) Social media support

For the most part, social media support is straightforward: it involves engaging with customers through social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. 

You can take this strategy one step further by responding to comments on these channels—all under the same roof that you handle other conversations.

Shinesty uses Gorgias to address their Facebook ad comments. And since they’re using automated responses to answer common questions, the customer support team has more time to get creative with responses to social comments (which has driven more conversions for the brand). 

The best part? Your CS team doesn’t all have to share a single login anymore 😉

“The Facebook ad commenting has been very interesting. People have been converting right there, thanks to a simple social interaction.”
- Cody Szymanski, Customer Experience Manager, Shinesty

6) Self-serve portals

Customer knowledge bases might not involve direct human interaction, but they provide customers with a conversational interface to find information, troubleshoot problems, or access FAQs independently. 

These portals are designed to be user-friendly and intuitive, empowering customers to find solutions on their own. 

Tools like Gorgias’ Quick Responses via Gorgias Automate or article recommendations in live chat enhance the conversational aspect, allowing self-service portals to feed into chat interactions and make the experience even more engaging.

BrüMate's Help Center is a good one to get inspiration from. BrüMate addresses two common customer queries at the top of the page: returns policy and product compatibility, ensuring quick answers without scrolling.



In case customers aren’t on the knowledge base, the same FAQs are featured in the brand’s live chat. These direct customers to answers immediately, but they can still reach out to talk to someone directly if they need to.


“We have a great help center that attracts tens of thousands of monthly visitors who are then redirected back to the main site and in this circular motion where we don't want those customers to drop off." —Colin Waters, Director of Customer Experience at The Feed & former Associate Director of Customer Experience at BrüMate

Implement conversational customer service in 7 steps

Now that you know it’s easier to manage conversational customer support with the right tools, here are seven steps to implement this strategy without extra effort from your team.

1) Centralize customer interactions with a helpdesk 

Surprisingly, more brands than you realize are handling support by logging in and out of multiple channels. Imagine how much time you would save if you could see every email, phone call, comment, and ticket under one roof.

The first step to conversational customer support is setting up a helpdesk. Centralizing customer interactions allows your team to view message histories across all channels in one unified interface. 

With over 65+ integrations across the ecommerce tech stack, Gorgias gives teams a comprehensive view of customer interactions and data, eliminating guesswork and enhancing efficiency.

2) Automate repetitive queries

Save your agents from repetitive typing. Apply automation tools like rules to share templated responses (called Macros in Gorgias) across support channels, speeding up responses and ensuring consistency. 

And even after responding, you can automate more actions in your workflow. This could be to assign a ticket to an agent, add tags, or even cancel/refund an order right away.

Here’s an example of a Macro being used by the Darn Good Yarn team.



3) Prioritize urgent tickets automatically

Not all customer issues are equal. To solve this, implement rules that automatically prioritize urgent or important tickets. By prioritizing different issues, you enhance customer satisfaction and demonstrate your commitment to resolving the most important concerns promptly.

For example, if you’re in the midst of a busy holiday season, you’ll want to prioritize tickets like address change requests over others. 

4) Route tickets based on agent specialization

Do you have a list of VIP customers? Or agents who specialize in certain products or support channels over others? 

Prioritizing tickets based on agent specialization is one way to increase efficiency so your agents can use their expertise to help shoppers quickly. This also enhances problem-resolution efficiency. 

Consider creating dedicated views that consolidate inquiries so specific agents see only what’s relevant to them. 

5) Empower agents with rich customer data

According to Salesforce research, 63% of consumers expect businesses to know their unique needs and expectations. 

By equipping your agents with valuable insights into customer history and preferences, your agents can personalize interactions and foster meaningful conversations. 

Gorgias pulls in customer information like past order history, support tickets, social media comments, or subscription status. Agents can see all of a customer's past history with a brand in one place when they’re talking with them. This allows support teams to get the full picture of every customer they’re chatting with. 


6) Provide proactive pre-sales support and engagement

One way to be conversational in your customer support is to anticipate customer needs and reach out proactively. That means sharing self-service resources like a help center or FAQ page. It also means addressing pre-sales questions that might be blocking them from making a purchase or making the right purchase. 

BrüMate accomplishes this by featuring an interactive product finder quiz in its customer knowledge base: 

BruMate's help center

7) Make it easy for customers to engage with agents

Remember, offering conversational support is only effective if it's easy for customers to reach out. 

You can do this by prominently featuring support CTAs across your site, from product pages to emails and footer links. Every transactional email can subtly highlight how to reach support, ensuring customers know how and when to engage. 

Make customer support conversational with Gorgias

Conversational customer service bridges the gap between face-to-face interactions and online transactions. But it’s not just about addressing customer concerns; it's about creating meaningful connections and positive experiences, which are essential for customer retention and brand advocacy.

A key part of a conversational support strategy is simplifying the complexity of handling multiple channels. Every customer interaction and data point needs to live under one roof. Otherwise, it’s too difficult for teams to manage.

This is exactly what Gorgias does. We don’t want brands to have to settle for ordinary customer experiences. Your support is your foundation, and it should be easy to manage.

Sign up for free here to see how you can get more conversational with customers.

FAQ’s

What is an example of conversational customer service?

Conversational customer service can take various forms. For instance, imagine a customer reaching out via live chat on an ecommerce website to ask about product details. A support agent responds promptly, addressing the query with a personalized touch, ensuring the customer feels heard and valued. This real-time, interactive conversation exemplifies the essence of a conversational customer service experience.

What channels are used in conversational customer service?

Conversational customer service embraces a multitude of different channels. These include live chat on websites, messaging apps like WhatsApp and SMS, phone support, email, social media messaging platforms like Twitter and Facebook, and even voice assistants. By using these diverse channels, businesses can cater to customer preferences, ensuring seamless interactions.

How can Gorgias help my company implement conversational customer service?

Gorgias is your comprehensive solution for implementing conversational customer service effortlessly. It centralizes customer interactions across multiple channels, providing a unified view for your support team. With Gorgias, you can automate repetitive tasks, prioritize urgent tickets, personalize interactions, and even seamlessly integrate voice assistance. Its intuitive interface simplifies managing these diverse channels, making conversational customer service an efficient and delightful experience for both your team and customers alike.

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Alexa Hertel
Senior Editor at Gorgias
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