Illustration featuring a person sitting on a stool while talking on the phone

The Ultimate Contact Channel Debate: Call vs. Live Chat

Emily GregorLast updated on January 2, 2024
3 min

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Aircall’s head of sales and deployment for APAC, Brian Game, recognizes that there’s a right way to share big life news with his family. The same can be said for brands when they’re communicating with customers.

Game was making this point because Aircall’s GROW ANZ session had him debating a question that’s probably being asked within a lot of organizations right now: Are phone calls still the best channel to communicate with your customers or should you shift more toward messaging and chat?

The quick answer is both. Call and chat can be complementary extensions of each other. They can also offer customers options for how they want to contact a business. It all depends on what makes the most sense for the message. What made the debate format useful was the way it showed the tradeoffs and risks of limiting yourself to just one.

Using Call and Chat to Your Advantage

For many customers, their biggest wants include getting their problems solved and resolution speed. Chat delivers quick, convenient resolutions to customers. It also allows you to proactively send a message to customers and get ahead of known problems. Chat can also be complemented by support bots that answer repetitive questions automatically.

Hopping on a phone with a support rep can make a difference in solving more urgent or complex customer inquiries. Game says that when customers are able to reach out by phone, difficult conversations can be turned around. It can even lead to repeat business. Over the phone, you can pick up on tone, understand gray areas, and get to the root of the problem.

Delivering the Best Customer Experience

The moral of that story: Businesses win by toggling between chat and calls based on whatever will offer the best customer experience.

As Intercom’s director of APAC sales, Sam Hoare, said, chat has become popular as a business tool in part because it’s also popular among consumers. Hoare pointed to the fact that, out of the top 10 apps on Android and iOS, five are messaging apps.

Done well, Hoare said, chat and messaging go beyond empowering customers to resolve common issues like resetting passwords or checking on order status—they also provide a level of personalized and contextual support that many other channels can’t.

Offering chat while continuing to let customers call in allows companies to strike the right balance of channels needed to solve customers’ queries to provide the best possible customer experience.

Using Calls and Messaging as a Tag Team

These days, customers expect you to meet them where they are. That can vary widely by who your customers are and where they live. This makes it even more important to design customer support with omnichannel communication in mind so you meet the needs of all customers.

Fabio Pancaldi, director of sales at HubSpot and the debate’s moderator, may have said it best. He suggested the best way forward is an integrated approach that uses both calls and chat. This allows customers to choose the channel they feel would best serve their needs.

“The thing I always ask my team about our customers is, ‘Do we have their mobile number and have we chatted with them?'” he said. “The two things go together.”

Game echoed that sentiment, adding that platforms like HubSpot’s can play a critical role, too.

“If you truly want your clients to come away satisfied, you need the holy trinity—Aircall, Intercom, and HubSpot,” he said. “That’s the only way to truly understand your clients in terms of what they’re feeling and how you can give them the best possible experience ever.”

Only picking one may be the right solution for some teams, but offering both is the best option for many. And what benefits customers, benefits companies. Teams that offer omnichannel support typically see faster response rates and happier customers. It’s a win-win.

Discover more ways to get the most out of voice and chat channels for customer communications.

Published on December 3, 2021.

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