How is Online Customer Support different from Offline Customer Service?

Customer service experience has always been a priority for businesses, whether online or offline. To be clear, offline customer service refers to a customer service experience in a physical retail store. And both the customer service experiences are obviously different from each other, considering the way that they are carried out. That is not to say that offline stores do not have an online presence, and online markets do not have any physical stores. It all depends on the brand’s business goals. This article will explore how online customer support is different from the traditional customer service experience.

Customer Service

It refers to the kind of service provided to customers by businesses that solve their queries regarding the products or services. In most customer service interactions, customers reach out to the company to make a request, ask questions, and file complaints. In turn, the company’s customer support rep works quickly to provide expertise, support, and any kind of assistance they need. In short, customer service is about solving the customer’s needs, and they are both available in online and offline customer service.

Difference between Online and Offline Customer Service

There is just one principle difference between the two kinds of customer service and that is technology. Technology plays a massive role in differentiating them.

In any online customer experience, the customer’s shopping experience takes place online. He doesn’t need to have a face-to-face interaction with the brand, which could be an advantage in a way. For instance, Xfinity customer service offers online solutions to any queries that customers might have about their products or services, and customers do not have to go to a physical store for that.

But at the same time, this is disadvantageous for retail stores because they need to constantly build rapport to attract customers to their business. Offline business owners can offer personalized service and gain loyal customers through direct interactions.

The experience of an unhappy customer at physical retail stores will only be witnessed by two or three other customers at the store. Retail store owners can quickly cover it up with discounts and promotions. But on the internet, retail store owners are at a disadvantage. When an unhappy customer posts a bad review about any brand, that review is there on the internet for the whole world to see and there is no way for online brands to recover from that.

Moreover, online customer service relies on technology to carry out interactions with the customers. For instance;

  • With live chat software, customer support reps can communicate with the customers in real-time
  • There is also advanced call handling software that speeds up response time in call centers
  • Also, chatbots aid in self-service customer support
  • Software programs having artificial intelligence technology help in streamlining data analysis, entry, and other processes that are time-consuming just for a human customer support rep.

Moreover, with this kind of technology now emerging, offline retailers are now pushing customers toward using their phones for any troubleshooting they experience. While offline interactions with the customers could mean a personalized experience, encouraging them towards the technology means that;

  • They wouldn’t need to invest more in manpower, hence, fewer associates
  • Or the associates that they do have are focused on other pressing tasks

This leaves fewer personalized alternatives for the customers.

Also, Online customer services offer personalized content or self-serving knowledge bases, and that can seem much more personal and useful than associates in a physical retail store. This points toward the final difference between online and offline customer service; there should be a proactive element in online customer service.

When they have an issue with the brand or a product, customers choose to look it up first. As a result, online brands should research potential issues that customers might experience, and then provide helpful materials and easy solutions on their websites for customers to find. Offline retailers do not have that kind of luxury; they have to wait until a customer visits them at their physical store.

Final Thoughts

The major thing that separates online customer service from offline customer service is technology. With the help of technology, the world of customer service has changed like never before. There are certain benefits that online customer service has over offline customer service, as well as disadvantages.

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