The growing number of customer support-oriented omnichannel options are changing the preferences of today’s consumers, posing challenges for businesses that must now manage more channels than ever before.

These days, live chat has passed up traditional service channels, like voice and email support, as consumers’ preferred method of communication with brands, according to a new study from customer engagement software and service provider [24]7. Meantime, the number of consumers who prefer online or app-based messaging, as well as live phone or email support is nearly 30 percent.

With consumers demanding such diverse service options, companies are under some pressure to manage today’s growing range of service channels effectively. Here are three ways to streamline your website’s customer support in order to deliver efficient service and keep customer satisfaction rates high.

1. Integrate Your Service Channels through the Cloud

Trying to manage various support channels in a piecemeal fashion can create headaches for your service team and frustration for your customers. For example, if a support ticket originates on live chat but then moves to the phone, the customer may find themselves having to repeat the same information to two different representatives. This wastes your representatives’ time and irritates your customers.

To solve this issue, many companies are turning to a call center in the cloud to better integrate their support channels. Indeed, investing in and utilizing a cloud-based call center platform allows your representatives to field all support channels through a single interface.

And, ultimately, adopting such a platform makes it easy to maintain information customers have provided as conversations move from one support channel to another. It also improves your ability to deploy remote representatives through the cloud, making it easier to scale up your service team as needed.

2. Leverage Automation for Greater Efficiency

When using the cloud to integrate multiple service channels, leveraging automation tools will allow your customer care team to manage tickets with greater efficiency. Chatbots can automatically handle a large percentage of routine text-based inquiries, while IVR tools can perform the same function for phone-based support inquiries.

When deploying automation tools, it’s important to approach them as a way to supplement live rep support, not replace it. While most support tickets can be handled automatically, a significant percentage need human support, and customers who need personal assistance usually become annoyed when they can’t reach these representatives.

Being unable to reach a human representative over the phone is consumers’ top service complaint, according to a Consumer Reports survey. To avoid having automation backfire on you, use smart automated tools that employ artificial intelligence to efficiently identify tickets that truly need human support, allowing these issues to be quickly routed to available live reps.

3. Make it Easy for Customers to Use their Preferred Channels

Customers also become annoyed when they can’t access their preferred support channels. Ranking high among consumers’ top customer service complaints were companies that don’t provide a customer service phone number, or that hide their contact information on their website in a way that makes it difficult to find. An increasing number of companies also make it difficult for customers to email them, effectively forcing them to use live chat.

While many customers prefer live chat support, it’s important to recognize that an almost equal percentile of customers prefer either phone or email. Forcing your customers to use live chat risks alienating over half of your customer base. To achieve the highest customer satisfaction rates, make it easy for them to find and use their preferred support channels.

Similarly, if you know a customer will be on hold for an extended time period via live chat or IVR, giving them the option to receive a callback or an email shortens wait times and increases their satisfaction with your company.

Streamlining Customer Support Via the Cloud

Managing multiple support channels can be challenging, but you can streamline your support by using a call center in the cloud that lets your representative handle all channels from a single interface. Combining a cloud center with automated tools such as chatbots and IVR can further shorten customer wait time and increase your support team’s efficiency.

When using automated tools, making sure it’s easy for website visitors to find and access their preferred support channels will avoid frustrating customers who don’t necessarily prefer a single channel. Finally, putting these guidelines into practice will help make your customer service more efficient for your support team — and more satisfying for your customers.