6 Companies That Quit Phone Support
Phone is the default choice of communication for many companies. Almost everyone offers it (without thinking) but it might not be necessary.
Though most customers expect it, phone support is, more often than not, a frustrating experience. It’s often relegated to a call center, where customers are confronted by long queues, annoying hold music and poorly trained reps.
For businesses where phone is their primary channel, they can’t offer fast service at low costs. An agent can only serve one customer at a time, which means customers are inevitably left in waiting lines. You also need enough staff for peak hours, which could prove very expensive.
If you’re selling an online product or service, it’s difficult to explain how to move a website, for example, over the phone. Instead, it’s more efficient to send the customer screenshots, links to tutorials or show them exactly what they need to do, in, say, live chat.
If turning off phone support seems radical to you, it doesn’t have to be. Many companies have dropped the phone while maintaining or even improving their customer experience and service ratings, or never offered it in the first place. Here are six such examples:
As a customer-centric company, Moz used to communicate its phone number in multiple places on its website. But the company soon realized this was hurting the customers who used chat and email.
Many calls involved issues that needed to be looked into and followed up via email. Phones also isolated the Help Team from the rest of the departments.
So the company decided to prioritize the channels where they could offer value — chat and email, the latter of which makes up the base of their support.
A lot of customers send queries about technical issues, which need to be forwarded to engineering and development teams. Unlike calls, emails can easily be turned into tickets that can be tracked. It’s also easier to understand technical explanations when they’re written out.
But customers like to help themselves . That’s why Moz invests a lot of resources into its Help Hub . Acting as a one-stop-shop for customers’ questions or known issues, the Help Hub allows customers to get fast answers to their questions, through a wide range of tools and resources.
And because responses are public and therefore, more scalable, Moz doesn’t need to grow its support team in proportion to its customer base.
As a video marketing platform, providing great support has always been part of Wistia’s mission. Part of that included phone support. For customers venturing into video for their business, this made them feel they were in safe hands.
However, as its customer base grew, it became harder to balance phone support for existing customers with meeting new and potential customers.
Its small support team couldn’t keep up with the volume of calls, which meant that support simply wasn’t scalable.
So Wistia spent some time contemplating the best course of action. The support team looked at data on the type of customers that were calling in: existing customers, potential customers on trials and prospects. They also reviewed the type of conversations they were having on the phone to see if any could have been handled more quickly and easily via other avenues (i.e. documentation, website, in-app tutorials).
Armed with this information, they considered their options. Since the goal was to maintain or improve the overall level of support, they knew that removing phone support altogether wouldn’t work.
In the end, they decided to remove their phone number from the support page of their website. This means that when a potential customer first gets in touch with Wista, their first port of call is live chat and the Help Center. Once a visitor signs up for a trial, they receive phone and contact information.
As a result, their phone volumes went down by 25%, while email volumes soared. However, this was much more manageable for the support team. With the increased bandwidth, they can now invest more resources in building up the Help Center. They’ve also been able to spend more time with prospects and customers to learn about features that are unclear.
Wistia report, the feedback has been extremely positive overall. Because support is always available when the customers want it, in the form of static resources, it’s faster, more informative and more accessible.
For Acuity Scheduling, an online scheduling assistant, offering online support allows them to keep their pricing low. By offering only email support, they’re able to cast a wider net and dedicate their resources to continually improving their product.
Unlike the phone, online support allows for easier documentation of issues, which provides insights for research and troubleshooting purposes. This way, they can continually build on their Help Center .
They may not be available by phone, but they’ve still got their customers’ backs.
As a learning management platform, TalentLMS only offers phone support as part of its service. For them, email feels efficient: customers can describe their issues in as much detail as they want, while support agents can immediately turn emails into tickets.
This makes it easier for everyone involved in the resolution of the issue to review conversation histories and pick up from where the last person left off.
Email also allows the customer to answer in their own time, instead of waiting in a phone queue or asking them to schedule a time for a follow-up.
That said, the phone does have its merits. Email responses are rarely immediate and often lead to endless email ping-pong with long waiting times. If a crucial detail is missing or where information is unclear, it can lead to miscommunication.
Phone support allows their agents to request all the necessary details in real time until they have enough information to review or resolve the issue.
That’s why TalentLMS offer phone support for those times when customers will likely need extra guidance:
- As part of live product demos, where prospects will have questions
- For bigger plans, where more support will be needed
- As part of their paid training packages
For Kinsta, a WordPress hosting provider, support requires a lot of focus and investigation. Keeping support online frees up engineers to solve customers’ issues with the fewest number of distractions and interruptions possible.
Since all support tickets contain the necessary information (customer and technical), there’s no time wasted in looking up details.
For the times when real-time assistance needs to be provided, this is where their messaging system comes in. Screenshots, links, code snippets and video can be shared, helping support agents to get to the root of issues quickly.
And because all support tickets and conversations are documentable, agents have access to all the information they need when a customer contacts them, meaning no issue repetition.
The added benefit of online support is that it provides valuable insights for research and product improvements.
As an online business, Squarespace never offered phone support. Since website building is a visual process, it didn’t make sense.
In contrast to phone calls, online support allows for screenshots, videos and links to be exchanged. These help the SquareSpace support team see what the customer is seeing and get to the root of a problem quickly. They can also send videos and links in return to point the customer in the right direction.
A common frustration of customers is issue repetition . With live chat, for example, agents have access to all chat histories, which can be sorted, searched and filtered, e.g. by rating scores or keywords.
When Squarespace first started out, they were doing reactionary support but not scaling efficiently. So to lower costs, they worked on making their tool as intuitive as possible. They also invested heavily in self-help, with a particular focus on onboarding.
The result? Agents are able to provide accurate and detailed answers while spending less time searching for information. And customers have access to 24/7 support without agents needing to be constantly available.
Is quitting phone support right for you?
Many companies or departments rely on phone calls to generate leads. That’s because, on the phone, it’s easier to build rapport or to quickly clarify doubts about a purchase.
However, for service or post-sales support, where customers often need immediate assistance, the phone is not efficient, as can be seen from the above case studies.
The problem is that if you display your phone number on your website, you’ll get both pre and post-sales inquiries. What’s more, some of your customers will likely prefer phone support as it’s what they’re used to. They may also not be aware of other (faster) channels such as live chat and messaging.
What you can do is to start by removing your phone number from the main pages of your website, while making other channels (live chat, messaging) more prominent on your contact page.
Once your customers have become accustomed to using other channels, you can then remove your phone number from your site altogether.
For businesses who can’t remove phone support altogether, why not use your waiting queues to advertise your live chat and email options? Instead of forcing your customers to hold music, you could use this time to educate them about other available channels:
“For immediate service, use our live chat at www.website.com or send an email to email@example.com"
If you want the additional channels without the overhead, Userlike is the perfect solution: website chat for the right now moments and messaging apps for when your customers aren’t online.
For the times where issues become too complicated to resolve via chat or for building rapport with promising leads, we’ve added an audio calls feature into Userlike.
Turning off phone support doesn’t mean you won’t be calling your customers or worse still, ignoring them entirely — it just means that it’ll be happening on your terms.
For tips on guiding your customers away from the phone and towards messaging channels, check out our blog post .
If you’re curious about the combined power of website chat and messaging, sign up for your free trial here .