Making Customer Service Non-voice Starts With Chat

Until now, customer service has been dominated by voice telephone support. Recently, however, non-voice support using chat is on the rise. Customer service using non-voice channels is becoming more popular. In this article, we will explain what non-voice customer service is and why it is a good idea to start with chat for non-voice customer service. In the latter half of the article, we will introduce some points to keep in mind when operating chat and the features of recommended platforms.

What is Non-Voice in Customer Service?

‘Non-voice customer service’ simply refers to the use of channels that do not include spoken communication.
Typical non-voice channels include:

  • Chat
  • Email
  • Contact form
  • SMS
  • SNS
  • Support Community
  • FAQ

What is the best channel to choose from among the many? Or which channel should we focus on in the future? 

4 Reasons to Start Non-Voice in Customer Service with Chat

The current trend in customer service is the chat channel. Here are four reasons why companies are focusing on chat to drive the shift to non-voice. 

Smartphone Searches
Chat is essential in non-voicing because of the widespread use of smartphones. It has become common for people to use their smartphones to search for information they do not understand. Customers are accustomed to researching via text, and they feel more comfortable contacting companies via text as well. 

Source: KDDI Evolva, “Actual Communication between Companies and Customers 2021 Edition. 

This data also shows that the number of customers wishing to use the chat service is increasing each year.

Retailers have been quick to react to this trend and are focusing on chat commerce, which leverages the chat channel. 

No Longer Using Phones for Communication

The main means of communication is shifting from telephone to chat such as popular 3rd party channels like Twilio SMS, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat and more. This is because chat is more convenient. It is used more than phone calls because both parties can communicate at their convenience and images, video, and voice can be sent easily. 

The Call Center White Paper 2021 analyzes the current situation in which text-based communication is becoming the mainstream as follows.

”The center of non-face-to-face communication methods has already shifted from telephones to messengers such as e-mail, chat, and LINE. According to the results of a survey released in February 2021 by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications,  Voice Communication Usage in Japan from the Perspective of Communication Volume – Usage in FY2021,” the number of domestic voice traffic communications in 2019 will decrease by about 17% compared to FY 2013. The overwhelming view is that this downward trend will accelerate.” 

The analysis shows that text-based communication is becoming more common than phone calls. 

Working From Home Becomes More Widespread
The environment for companies providing customer service is also changing. The environment has shifted from one in which customer service was provided mainly through call centers to one in which center operations, including work-at-home operations, are required. In this respect, chat support can be handled even in the limited Internet and PC environments of home-based operators. 

Higher Turnover in Customer Service Departments
Chat responses are considered less stressful than telephone responses. Next-generation chat messaging is asynchronous and does not require speedy replies. You can spend ample time researching and checking with your SV without feeling pressured. As a result, turnover in the customer service department is reduced. 

Chat Channels Needed for Non-Voice

You may be thinking, “I want to start a chat operation, but where do I start? First, let’s get acquainted with the three chat channels necessary for non-voice chat operations. 

  • AI Chatbot
  • Manned chat
  • Messaging

Once you know the characteristics of these three channels, you will know what to implement according to your company’s needs. 

AI Chatbot
AI chatbot is a channel that responds to chats while learning and making decisions on its own. It is good at responding 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, confirming the content of the customer’s inquiry, and assigning the inquiry to the most appropriate person. What they are not so good at is deciphering long sentences and responding in context. 

Areas where we recommend implementing AI chatbots areproduct order reception, multilingual support, internal FAQs, and procedural reception in the shipping, medical, and insurance industries. 

Manned Chat
Manned chat is a service in which a human representative responds to inquiries via chat, unlike AI chatbots, which can respond to difficult questions from customers. It can accept multiple questions at the same time and respond with contextual understanding. The drawback is that you need to assign a person to handle the chat, and it is not available outside of business hours. 

Companies that are recommended to implement manned chat are those that have already implemented chatbots and need to follow up, and those that want to operate a hybrid operation with chatbots. 


Messaging is an asynchronous chat service that allows both parties to start a conversation at any time, even on a website, and to interrupt or continue the conversation whenever it is convenient. Furthermore, it is possible to continue a conversation started on a company website and continue it on popular 3rd party channels like Twilio SMS, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat and more, for example, between different channels. However, since messaging is a new channel, be aware that customers may mistake it for a chat and expect an immediate response. 

Messaging is recommended for cases where the customer has questions about a product, or asks questions about his or her registration information. 

Background of the Lack of Non-Voice Customer Service

Despite the global trend toward non-voice, in some markets, the ratio of telephone calls to customer service is still high.

A report by Deloitte Tohmatsu Consulting, LLC shows that compared to foreign companies, Japanese companies have a telephone ratio of more than 15%. The ratio of non-voice, such as chat, is about 10% lower. 

The reason for the high percentage of phone calls is that companies are concerned about security. 

The ratio of customer service operations in Japan that require identification tends to be high. In particular, banks, insurance companies, mobile telecommunications carriers, and mail order companies place a high priority on identity verification when making inquiries. And most companies do not support identity verification through non-voice channels. 

Secured non-voice will require the introduction of the latest eKYC technology zero-knowledge proof, etc. 


of customers prefer live chat

Source: Accumen

Benefits of Implementing Chat for Customer Service

There are benefits for both customers and management in implementing chat for customer service.

Customer Benefits Convenience
If customer service is made non-voice through chat, customers can inquire at their preferred time and timing. If they only use the phone, they cannot inquire on the train to work or while their children are sleeping. But with chatbots and messaging, customers can inquire 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. 

Advantages for the Operator Reduced Call Center Operating Costs
The benefit to the operator is the reduction of call center operating costs. Chat channels can increase the number of home-based workers. The number of seats at the base can be reduced. The number of vacant seats can be utilized for other tasks, and the efficiency of the center can be improved. 

Advantages for the Operator: Can Be Used for Marketing Purposes
All interactions with customers can be saved as text data. More and more companies are analyzing the data and linking it to up-selling and cross-selling. In addition to responding to customer inquiries, it is also possible to send special offers and campaign information later on. 

Disadvantages of Introducing Chat for Customer Service

Let’s look at the disadvantages of implementing chat at the same time.

There Are Limits to What Can Be Handled
Chat is handled by exchanging short sentences. Therefore, it is not suitable for complex questions and answers. In some cases, it may be quicker to resolve the issue by talking. 

It Is Hard to Understand Emotions
Since communication is by text, it can be difficult to understand the other person’s emotions. You should proceed with the chat while confirming the other party’s intentions by reciting them. It is important to note that it is sometimes difficult to convey the operator’s emotions. Some companies use designated pictograms for operators to express their emotions. 

Some Customers Are Not Comfortable With Chat
People who are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the Internet and smartphones dislike chat-based inquiries. Please analyze your target audience and determine if you should use voice response in addition to chat response. 

Points to Keep In Mind for Chat Operations

If you are going to use chat operations for customer service, you want to realize CS improvement. Here are four points to keep in mind in order to make your chat operation “useful! Here are four points to keep in mind in order to make your chat operation “useful” and “I want to use it again. 

Choose the Channel That Customers Prefer
Analyze the demographics of the customers who contact you and determine which channels they prefer to use. For example, if the customer is in their teens to thirties, they may prefer popular services like Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat, and if they are older, SMS or e-mail. 

Be Careful With Scenario Design in Chatbot Operations
Be careful with scenario design in chatbot operations. If you can create high quality scenarios, users will get the information they wanted in a short time. Conversely, if the quality of the scenario is poor, the user will be stuck in a loop asking the same questions over and over again, or will be presented with misguided information, wasting valuable time. Excellent scenarios directly lead to improved customer satisfaction. 

Be Mindful of Your Manners When Responding to Chats
Chat responses are text-centered. If you are not careful, you may give the impression of being mechanical or cold. Be sure to use language that is polite and conveys warmth in your chat responses. 

Utilize Phone Support as Well

As we mentioned a while ago, there are certain people who are not comfortable with chat inquiries. Promoting non-voice through chat does not mean eliminating telephone support, but it is a good idea to leave a telephone contact point. 

In order to respond to the diversifying needs of customers, in addition to the shift to non-voice, an omnichannel approach will also be necessary. 

Characteristics of Chat Platforms Recommended for Non-Voice

A chat platform recommended for non-voice is a platform that can operate a wide range of all chat channels. In fact, true chat platforms are still few and far between. 

There are many tools that specialize only in chatbots or manned chat. There are also many tools that allow chat services only with specific applications. 

However, there are not many platforms that can provide AI chatbots, manned chat, and messaging across a variety of applications and services. 

When starting your customer service non-voice conversion with chat, choose a true chat platform that is flexible and scalable. 

Final Thoughts

The reasons why non-voice customer service should start with chat are that smartphones are becoming the primary way to search for information, and communication methods are shifting from telephone to chat. The introduction of chat is also an indispensable measure for companies to promote work-at-home and reduce the turnover rate. 

When implementing non-voice chat, you need to decide whether to use AI chatbots, manned chat, or messaging. If you are not sure which channel is best suited for your company’s challenges, please contact us. 

The environment surrounding you and your company is changing. Responding to the needs of non-voice customers is an opportunity for companies to make a leap forward in customer service. Let’s improve CS and customer loyalty through chat operations. 

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