11 types of customer service (and how to pick the right one)

Ishita Bagchi

Ishita Bagchi

Published on

13 minute read

Keeping customers happy is one of the most important goals of a business. But to achieve that, you need a good customer service team and a suitable support suite.

Companies are now investing in chatbots, live chat support, mobile messenger support, etc. for better customer service support. It can be daunting to select one for your support usecase.

In this article, we have curated a list of the different types of customer service, what they are and what they can and cannot do for you.

customer support meme

But first, let us understand why customer service is important for your business.

Why is customer service important for your business?

  • Providing good customer service can improve your customer retention.
  • Customers feel satisfied when their queries are taken seriously.
  • Personalised customer service makes customers feel valued. And when customers feel valued brand loyalty increases. 33% of customers stopped doing business when they didn’t receive personalised services.
  • Retaining customers with good customer service is cost-effective for you.
  • If your customer retention increases by 5%, your revenue can increase by at least 25%.

In fact, we can give you 20 reasons to stress the importance of customer service.

Types of customer service

To begin with, here's a tabular presentation of everything the 11 types of customer service can and cannot do.

Tip: Expand/save this image in a new tab for a more comprehensive view.

tabular comparison of different types of customer service

Let us now look at all these 11 types of customer service in detail, and what they are best for. Choose the ones that best suit your needs to stay ahead of your competitors.

1. Email support

Ever since the web became a part of daily lives, businesses gradually started switching to emails for marketing and customer support when they realised how efficient virtual customer service was.

Customers contact businesses through an email address, usually available on the company's website.

Listed below are some factors to consider when making a decision about whether to use emails for customer support or not.

  • It helps customers document all the information in detail, attach screenshots and files and explain themselves clearly. This can help avoid time-consuming questions on live support.
  • Providing customer support through emails is cost-effective for your business. You do not need to invest a lot in customer engagement tools. Depending on the scale of your business, a shared inbox might be sufficient for your support needs.
  • Minimal confusion for the customer. A shared support inbox can serve as a one stop solution for your customers and one single place for you to address customer queries.
  • You can use email templates to save time and improve efficiency.

And, of course, you can make emails a part of your customer engagement suite on Chatwoot.

Chatwoot Email inbox settings
Chatwoot Email inbox settings

2. Live chat support

Live chat support is one of the most effective types of customer service. We say this because, amongst many other advantages, this helps you reduce customer churn.

Unhappy customers churn faster when they receive delayed responses to their complaints. 68% of the customers will stop doing business with you if they feel ignored.

This is where live chat support comes to your rescue. When customers receive responses as soon as they raise a complaint through chat support, they feel valued.

And when your customers see that you are resolving their complaints in real-time, the customer churn rate reduces.

website live chat preview

Here are some benefits of live chat:

  • Even if your customers don't need to talk right away, being available to assist them builds trust.
  • Live chat is an excellent way to connect with potential customers and increase their confidence to buy your product or use your service.
  • Agents can customise their conversation strategies to fit the situation during an ongoing chat by observing a customer's sentiment.
  • You can proactively reach out to your website visitors through your live chat widget.
  • Consumers who use live chat are 2.8 times more likely to convert than those who do not.

Pro tip: There are many advanced features you can use to make your live chat workflows smoother. For eg. Dashboard Apps.

3. Demos and knowledge videos on the company website and social media

Self-service is a customer favourite.

At least 96% of customers watch demos and explainer videos of a product or a service before buying. This data itself shows how important product explainer videos are.

Businesses can use various types of videos and demos for customer service. Some of them are as follows. 👇

Knowledge support videos

Knowledge base or knowledge support videos demonstrate product features and/or common customer queries.

Customers might not always read complex PDFs, manuals, and articles. This is where short and engaging visual content in the form of videos can be useful.

Some basic examples of such videos can be, “How to set up your account on our website?, How can you access your purchase history and other account details?” etc.

Product demos

According to Google, How-to or instructional videos are one of the top four types of YouTube content that people watch. Its appeal cannot be ignored.

Things to keep in mind while creating product demos:

  • The basic idea of creating these videos is to demonstrate how to use your product in a simple step-by-step manner.
  • You can break these videos into smaller parts like a series for better customer engagement.
  • Having a narrator or a voice-over in the videos creates more impact.
  • Ensure that your videos have an omnichannel presence and are not only limited to your company website. For example, you can live stream product demos on your website and social media channels. You can also create a separate channel on YouTube for all your product demos so that customers do not get confused about what exactly you are offering them. Make sure your videos are converted, and you can use Veed to do so. You'll be able to convert between multiple formats—for example: MOV files into MP4s or GIFs with ease! You can also convert videos from one format to another. You can upload the video on Veed and then select the format you want it converted into.

You can check out some of the product demo videos by Google Workspace that Google posts on YouTube, for inspiration. You can also click here to check out some of the product demo videos by Morphy Richards.

4. Communities and forums

You can build a support community where users interact with each other and solve each other’s issues.

Here’s why online communities are beneficial for customer support. 👇

  • Online forums provide consumers with a place to share knowledge, ask questions, and learn from one another.
  • They help improve your customer service team’s understanding of the most pressing customer issues, confusions, and concerns.
  • Customers who are using your product see it from a different perspective than yours. This means that they might come up with different kinds of solutions to the same problem.
  • When customers post all this information on the forums, a resource base is created that other customers can use in the future.

For instance, Chatwoot gives a platform to its customers to interact and learn from each other on its Discord community.

5. Social media support

Globally, social media platforms have become very popular communication channels. Companies too are now using these platforms to the best of their capacities, be it for marketing or for customer support.

Apart from direct messages, customer service agents have to keep track of the customers' comments and reviews that they post on the company's social media platforms. Customer service teams can then reply to the messages, comments and address any queries or feedback from customers.

Why is social media important for customer support?

  • When someone posts a review of your products or mentions your brand, you can leverage that to create more conversations around your brand.
  • If it is negative feedback, the customer support teams can immediately reach out to the customer to resolve the complaint.
  • This can also help with branding. When other users on social media see that you take your customer’s feedback seriously, they could get interested in your product.

Some brands such as Netflix, JetBlue, etc. have used social media to take their businesses to the next level.

Netflix, for instance, playfully interacts with its customers on social media. They pay attention to what their users are posting and also reply to their comments.

JetBlue keeps track of what its customers are posting. For instance, once a JetBlue customer posted on his Twitter handle that he couldn’t get Starbucks coffee because it was a small airport. JetBlue took this tweet very seriously and delivered a Starbucks right at his seat.

Read here for more such interesting customer service stories. We also have a complete guide to approaching social media customer support.

6. Customer support via phone

We do not need to introduce this one. But why is customer assistance over the phone still widely used?

Most of the initial customer queries are raised through live chat, emails, etc.

But many of these complaints require additional support. So they end up being resolved only over phone calls. At least 61% of the customers still prefer phone calls for final resolution.

customer service on phone

Here are a few perks of providing customer support via phone. 📲

  • Phone calls have the ability to create responsive and interactive conversations.
  • It can help in building a strong connection with your customers.
  • Customer support via phone can be a very personalised experience which is good for making your customers feel valued.

7. On-site support

This type of customer care is provided directly to a customer's home or place of business.

Installation of a product on the premises, yearly maintenance, and product repairs are examples of on-site customer care services.

  • On-site customer service can be a very convenient option for your customers. This is because customer service is provided right at the doorstep.
  • Reduces customer efforts.
  • Not all problems can be fixed virtually, especially product defects and breakdowns. On-site customer support can be the best resort in this case.
  • Customers can physically verify the repairs done by the agents. They can check the authenticity of the parts replaced.

Thus, on-site support increases trust and improves customer satisfaction.

8. Interactive Voice Response (IVR) customer service

Interactive Voice Response is an automated phone system. It is used to answer customer queries.

It then redirects the customers to the appropriate customer service department.

IVR can be very useful for your customer service agents as well as your customers.

✔️IVR is available 24x7

✔️It reduces the workload for customer service agents

✔️Improves first contact resolution

✔️Reduces call time

Listed below are a few tips that can ensure a good experience with IVR.

  • Make your IVR menu simple and easy to understand.
  • Ensure that there are no frequent changes in your IVR menu as it can confuse your customers.
  • Ensure that there is a “request call back” option on your IVR menu. This will reduce customers’ frustration when the waiting period is long.
  • Make sure that the IVR is more conversational and less mechanical. This will ensure better customer engagement.

9. Chatbots

Chatbots have become a very common type of customer service.

Chatbots can solve customer queries in less than 10 messages. The projected global chatbot market size for 2023 is $0.8 billion. This brings the average ROI for chatbots to 1,275%! If you want to understand the power of chatbots, take a look at this survey conducted by Tidio which reveals more such encouraging statistics about chatbots.

Most apps now have in-built chatbots which customers can use to get answers to some of the most common queries.

For instance, let us assume that a customer wants to book a hotel. He can do that simply by selecting some options while chatting with the bot.

chatbot gif

One thing that we should note here is that if a chatbot cannot resolve the query, it doesn’t mean that the query remains unresolved. The chatbot can, in fact, redirect the customer to relevant customer service agents for further conversation.

But one issue that this type of customer service has is the lack of human touch. Chatbots mostly have mechanical and automated replies.

Thus, customers might not enjoy the personalisation that they get in other types of customer service. But to solve this issue, many companies are now trying to give a human touch to their chatbots.

Companies are embedding real-time translation features. This can help people to converse in any language they want at any time of the day.

For instance, Discord has a real-time translation bot called the Discord Translator.

Chatbots are also given an identity like a unique name, description, etc. so that people can feel connected while using the feature.

For instance, Air India has a chatbot called “Maharaja,” which is named after the company’s brand logo.

chatbot example from Air India

Interesting read: Will customer service be replaced by robots?

10. A FAQs page on your website

Why is a FAQs page/section important?

✅ Cost effective

✅ No additional investment

✅ Time-saving

It can be very time-consuming to reply to the same queries again and again on a day-to-day basis.

Plus: your website visitors might just have some obvious questions/queries.

This is why a FAQs page is an essential type of customer support. It can save time for you and your customers.

Your FAQ section can have answers to all your customers' common questions in one place. They can access this section whenever they want with ease. You can update it every time you or your team feels something needs to be added.

Since all the questions are in one place, they don't have to struggle to find them. At the same time, your customer service reps will also have more time to deal with urgent customer queries.

Moreover, this is one of the most efficient ways to help your customers on a daily basis.

Here’s what the FAQ page of McDonald’s looks like:

FAQs example

P.S. Here are 9 clever ways companies are using FAQ Pages.

11. Walk-in customer service departments

Walk-in customer service is a traditional type of customer service.

The majority of businesses still have a dedicated customer service team in their physical stores, even though online shopping has become popular in recent times.

Walk-in customer service still has its own advantages.

  • Face-to-face meetings with customers will help you better understand their issues.
  • You can gain the trust of your potential customers by physically demonstrating the products.
  • You also get the chance to promote additional products by letting them experience the product face-to-face.
  • You get the chance to observe your clients' nonverbal cues (eye contact, gestures, facial expressions, etc.) which is not possible through virtual customer support.

Physical encounters can occasionally put you in a difficult situation if a customer is dissatisfied and wants immediate solutions.

A single customer can sometimes consume most of your time, delaying your work such as solving other customers’ queries, demonstrating products for potential sales, etc.

This is why you can keep the following things in mind to make the most of this type of customer service. 😄

  • Pay attention to the non-verbal cues and try to take the conversation forward on that basis.
  • For instance, if the customer is looking a little impatient and wants a quicker solution, it is important to pick on that signal as a customer service agent. This will help you to change the tone of your conversation according to the situation.
  • Customer service is everyone’s job. Even if you don’t know what the customer is asking about, don’t deny help. Refer the customer to the appropriate person.
  • Don’t push your products on your customers. You can just talk about new launches and hand them leaflets or catalogues. But make sure that you are not pushing them to listen to you against their will.

The million dollar question: How to select the best customer service for yourself?

There are many factors that you must consider when choosing the type of customer service for your business. Here are some of them.

The age group of your customer base

You need to keep in mind who is your target audience. The demographics of your audience are important. This is because it will determine the kind of customer support channels that they are comfortable with using.

For instance, if your product or service focuses more on young users, having strong social media customer support is necessary. Similarly, if your products cater to an older age group, phone support should be the focus.

The size of your customer support team

The next thing that’s important is the size of your customer support team. Say, if you have a smaller team, it’s best to invest in more self-service options like chatbots, demo videos, live chat, etc.

Small teams can also go for email support since the common expectation from email support is longer response times.

The industry you work in

The industry that you work in is important when choosing the type of customer service.

For instance, if your company deals with appliances and gadgets, having on-site support can be your priority. This will increase customer satisfaction and build trust. They will be able to verify everything face to face.

Similarly, when your product is something that needs to be assembled or configured post-purchase, you can focus on product and knowledge videos. This will help customers set up the products smoothly. And it will also reduce the load of calls for your customer support executives.

If you are in travel and tourism, a mix of chat, email, IVR, and phone support can be the right balance for your customer service delivery. That’s because most of the time, issues related to booking and cancellation can be easily handled through chats, emails, and calls.

It is important to keep a track of the type of customer service that is trending and try to adopt the same in your business, if relevant.

For instance, nowadays, chatbots have become a very common type of customer service that businesses are using. It is important to see how this kind of customer service could be useful for your business too.

Here’s a tip

Keep a track of your customer engagements on social media platforms. If you use social media as one of your primary platforms for customer service, keep track of which social media platform has the maximum engagement.

This will help you to understand which platform your customers are using the most. And it will also give you important insights into the demography of your audience too.


The key to your success is putting your customers first. And you can achieve that by choosing the right kind of customer service support. ✔

Hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as we enjoyed writing it for you. 😁

Are there any other types of customer service that you have come across? Let us know. We are also regularly tweeting latest trends and tips around customer service. Good day/night!