customer support

When should your startup offer customer service voice support?

Photo of Mui Yoon
by   Mui Yoon

Nothing beats the sound of a thoughtful and confident human voice when you are concerned, worried, or just want to bring some closure to your question as soon as possible.

We also know that many high-growth brands can differentiate and disrupt their industries by offering a personalized support experience that is faster and better than their generic competitors (Amazon, Walmart, etc).

Here are two more stats that will make you want to launch voice support.

According to Zendesk research, voice support generates the highest customer satisfaction ratings of any channel at 91%, followed by live chat support at 85%. 

In a survey of 8,398 customers conducted by Gartner, the top five customer preferred channels for issue resolution included: phone (44%), chat (17%), email (15%), company website (12%), and search engine (4%). Even with AI-powered systems, people still want to talk to a human instead of a chatbot on the other line. 

OK, so voice support works. 

But when should you launch voice support for your startup, as it can be an expensive exercise?

We identified three common points to start considering voice support and when to offer it.

When it makes your conversations easier and faster

Many of the products we use daily don’t need voice support teams. For example, some software tools do not have a voice line. They’ve found instead that customers get a more effective experience via email or chat. 

Companies like 99designs though - a graph marketplace that has created over 500,000 design projects between customers and a community of independent designers - found they needed to offer voice support.

“If an agent is talking to a consumer via email and chat, and they start thinking to themselves, “It would be so much easier to talk to this person on the phone,” — that’s when you should probably consider phone support,” says Ashley King, director of support of 99designs.

It sounds simplistic, but when it feels like your conversations could be easier and faster if you were having a quick chat on the phone, that’s when it’s time to offer voice support.

When you need to add some extra comfort

“Phone support gives the customer an added sense of comfort,” explains Ashley.

Initially, people often expect a painful support experience and they dread it. However, this negative context allows you to truly delight them. When you delight them, they are more likely to be customer evangelists.


“For us, we provide a business where two humans are interacting. The customer and the designer come from very different backgrounds. When it’s necessary, we must talk to them and make them feel comfortable about the whole process.”

Talking to your customers over the phone offers you an unrivaled opportunity to engage them to share the problems or difficulties they face while using your product or service. You can relax and build confidence with frustrated customers, as they know they are being heard. When a customer is angry or needs a quick solution, they want to talk to someone instantly, instead of having to type out their issue and waiting for a response. And nothing replaces empathy shared over a phone call that connects you to the heart of an issue.

When your company can afford a 3x increase in support cost

Just a few years ago, phone use for customer service has been declining in favour of multichannel support. Among several reasons to do this, delivering an effective voice conversation is much more expensive than delivering three chat sequences at once. Ashley calculates it’s about 3x more expensive.

“Phone support costs about three times as much as chat or email support,” she says. “This is for two reasons:

“First, you can only handle one phone call at a time. With chat support, you can probably serve three customers at the same time.

“Second, when it comes to phone support, you need to invest more in training. If you ring up a support person as a consumer, you want that person to not only be an expert but also be able to have an emotionally intelligent conversation. 

“An effective combination of these two things — expertise and emotional intelligence — takes time to develop, especially when an agent is still learning about the product.”

How to launch voice customer service

Setting up a customer support channel that scales with your business is crucial, especially one that clears up your ticket backlog fast and comes complete with management training that is essential to enable the team to launch in one week.  

All new support channels need strong management, and this usually starts with your first hire.

“A start-up should hire their first full-time customer support agent from day one, and this is so important,” says Ashley.

To launch your new voice support channel, bring in a strong first hire who can set standards for the entire function while building management systems for the next hire.

Get started with our customer service voice solutions

Ready to repeat and scale your voice support channel in a simple month-to-month format? Get started with our flexible support teams.

About the author

Photo of Mui Yoon

Mui Yoon

Mui Yoon writes for Influx. A lifelong learner and passionate writer, she believes that the best stories come from curiosity and conversations with people.