The 12 Most Important Customer Communication Channels and How to Improve Them

min read
The 12 Most Important Customer Communication Channels and How to Improve Them

If you run a business, whether you make a consumer product for the mass market or offer a niche service for a select target audience, you want to reach as many potential customers as possible — and make it easy for them to reach you

Today, there are many diverse channels, digital and offline, that you and your customers can use to interact with each other, including for customer service and support. That’s why omnichannel customer communications — using multiple channels to connect seamlessly with customers anytime, anywhere — is becoming so important for today’s brands. 

In this post, we’ll look at the most important customer communication channels in use today, what benefits they offer, and ways to improve them so that your business can provide a better overall service experience to your customers in an omnichannel world. 

What Is a Customer Communication Channel?

Simply put, a customer communication channel is what your business uses to communicate in real time with your customers, and what they use to communicate with you. Commonly used channels, which we cover in more detail in this post, include:

  • Phone calls
  • Mobile messaging
  • Live chat
  • Video calls
  • Email
  • Face-to-face/in-person
  • Webinars
  • Forums
  • Chatbots
  • Contact forms

What Is the Importance of Real-Time Communication?

Real-time communication is communication between two or more users without transmission delays and with minimal latency. Essentially, it refers to the time it takes for speech or data to travel from Point A to Point B. 

“Real time” is a vital element in customer communication because the people have come to expect instant gratification and immediacy. Few customers today find it acceptable to be asked to wait for action. They want to know that someone is aware of and dealing with their concern or problem right now.

How to Implement Real-Time Communication in Your Business

What’s the easiest way for your typical customer to reach you and vice versa? For example, is your target audience dominated by the 65-plus age demographic? Most of those customers probably prefer phone contact or face-to-face meetings. Customers in the 15-18 age bracket, meanwhile, are typically more comfortable using channels like live chat and mobile messaging.

Meeting the communication preferences of a target audience will likely require you to employ more than one channel. Studies show that omnichannel customer communications are generally favored by most consumers today. Many customers are even inclined to buy more from you if you advertise to them over multiple channels. 

It’s critical to make sure the customer experience is seamless across all the channels in your omnichannel customer communications strategy. The worst thing for customers is if they have to continually input the same information into a web form online, an app on their phone, or relay it to a call center agent. 

How Can You Improve Your Business’s Customer Communication Channels?

Regardless of how many customer communication channels you deploy, you’ll want to ensure they’re all working optimally and supporting a great customer experience.

You can get overall insight into communication channel effectiveness by seeking regular customer feedback. For example, you might ask customers to provide reviews or participate in short surveys to answer questions such as, “How would you rate the quality of your phone call today?” and “Did our virtual assistant fully address your issue?” 

You can also monitor online review sites and social media posts for clues. 

Next, let’s look at some ways to improve the 12 most important customer communication channels, starting with the phone:

1. Phone 

Research from Invoca shows that 68% of consumers will make a call at some point in their buying journey. Many customers (42%) will make a call to get more information about the product, and nearly one-third (30%) will do so to complete a purchase.

The phone is an ideal channel for offering real-time, human-to-human interaction that earns customer trust. But you need to make sure that experience is stellar because the stakes are very high if you don’t. Our research also found that 76% of consumers will stop doing business with a company after just one negative experience.


Phone calls are a tried-and-true method of communicating effectively with customers in real time. Customers of all ages, but especially older customers, are used to the idea of picking up the phone to communicate with a business. Using a call center is a relatively simple and cost-effective solution for managing this critical customer communication channel.

How to Improve This Channel 

Phone calls have a huge advantage over other communication channels with customers because call center agents can actively listen, express empathy, and build a rapport with callers. These are key elements for creating a superior customer experience and aren’t easily achieved by chatbots, emails, or even live chat. 

This gives the phone communication channel a huge boost in its ability to not only convert leads to sales but also stay close to the customer along the buying journey. And you can improve this channel significantly by strategically deploying the right technology to provide call center agents with even better tools to do their jobs well.

Case in point: you can use Invoca’s artificial intelligence (AI) to automatically score every call your call center receives, eliminating the manual work of listening to and scoring calls. These scores are available to agents and their managers as soon as the call ends. This provides an immediate “teaching moment” for managers if they see aspects of the communication that can be improved or if agents are straying from scripts or company guidelines that might impair the customer experience. It also provides agents with material to be prepared for the next call, which might be the closing of the sale.

Another way to improve this channel: reduce hold times. If there’s a downside to using the phone, it’s that callers are often held in a queue … for a long time. Reducing wait times can dramatically improve the customer experience. You can also use Invoca to intelligently route callers to the best agent to handle their call, reducing transfers and hold times.

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2. Mobile Messaging

Mobile instant messaging is a rapidly growing customer communication channel. In 2021, an estimated 3 billion mobile phone users accessed messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to communicate. This number is expected to grow to 3.5 billion in the next two years. That represents a little less than half of all mobile phone users.


Instant messaging apps using SMS (Short Message Service, aka “text”) are a cost-effective and convenient way for people to communicate with each other and for businesses to communicate with customers. Engagement is higher with mobile messaging than with most other communication channels. For example, leading mobile messaging channel WhatsApp has 1.2 billion users who tend to check messages more frequently than they do email.  

How to Improve This Channel

You can boost your mobile messaging communications by personalizing messages to customers. Businesses can see a 25% lift in response rate by simply addressing their text with a name, according to Invoca’s research.

Also, it’s vital to know when to send a message — and when not to. Don’t send a text message advertising a product at 3 a.m. unless it’s something that will help an insomniac customer to fall asleep! 

And, when you do send a message, seek to engage the customer by being conversational. In the case above with the insomniac, for example, you might solicit a response by asking questions, like: “When is a good time to reach out and provide information that might help you overcome sleep deprivation?”    

3. Live Chat

Live chat via the web is the communication channel most favored by customers in the 18-34 demographic. Research shows it also has the second-highest customer satisfaction rating (85%) after the phone (91%).


Live chat interactions offer fast responses, often with shorter hold times than the phone. Live chat is a convenient way for customers to communicate with a brand and can also operate as a 24-hour contact channel. Newer chat solutions also offer users the ability to quickly transfer chat interactions to voice or video.   

How to Improve This Channel

This channel can be improved by making sure the human touch is not automated out of the equation. Online chat systems can expedite basic problem-solving situations, and help customers get answers to frequently asked questions. However, when customers have more complex issues or don’t want to interact with a chatbot, the option to interact with a live agent should be available to them.

Invoca’s AI-powered call tracking software helps companies maintain the human side of customer service while embracing automation. Invoca can, for instance, supply agents with information about caller intent. Before a call comes through to an agent, Invoca automatically sends a screenpop with the caller’s name, geographic location, and the webpage or search keyword they called from. 

This insight about the customer’s digital journey frees an agent to focus more on delivering a great experience instead of spending time piecing together the caller’s details. The time savings can be significant, too: It’s estimated that 75% of a customer service interaction is taken up by a live agent researching the issue a customer is calling about.

4. Video Call

Video conferencing has become an everyday part of life for many people, primarily as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, data suggests video platforms have grown 265% since the start of the pandemic. Telemedicine, which uses video as well as chat functions, skyrocketed by 613%. 


Video conferencing allows companies to deliver more personal and human-centered customer experiences through digitally enabled, face-to-face contact. Agents can also help customers solve complex problems faster by using screen-sharing graphics rather than typing responses.   

How to Improve This Channel

Consider giving callers ultimate flexibility by offering on-demand video chat for time-sensitive issues and scheduled video chat appointments for more technical or recurring problems. 

5. Email

Email is one of the most established digital communication channels in business and personal life, with over 4 billion regular users worldwide. Email is also used as a distribution channel by 87% of business-to-business (B2B) marketers, according to research from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI).


Email is a versatile customer communication channel. Emails can be highly personalized and distributed efficiently and inexpensively. 

Email can also be an important part of an omnichannel strategy, as it can easily be used with other channels, such as to send documents to customers while they’re engaged in live chat or phone calls for customer service and support. It also has the highest return on investment (ROI) of any digital marketing channel, with a $38 return for every $1 spent.

How to Improve This Channel

Studies suggest personalization increases click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%. And, you can give customers more options by including a phone number in your email. Offering click-to-call can be especially effective when paired with a call to action (CTA), given that phone calls convert to revenue 10-15 times more often than web or other leads.  If you use a call tracking solution like Invoca, you can see how many call conversions your emails drive, and which CTAs are most effective at driving customers.

You can also automate certain emails. So, when a customer signs up on a mailing list, for example, they receive an immediate welcome message. 

6. Face-to-Face

Face-to-face is the ultimate real-time communication channel and the best way to provide personalized customer service. It’s more than just “old school” — it’s the oldest channel of communication with customers. And it remains a very relevant channel for many businesses and their customers, even in an increasingly digitized world.  


Face-to-face communication is highly personalized and not just real time, but also real (i.e., human). It’s hard not to understand the other party when you can speak with them in person and take full stock of their demeanor and body language.

How to Improve This Channel

Be sure to train your agents so they can be effective at interacting with customers during in-person interactions. For example, they need to be mindful of their facial expressions and other body language, which will now be on full display in customer conversations. Help them feel more confident by equipping them with the right scripts and talking points, and rehearsing common scenarios.

7. Webinars

Webinars are a digital channel for communication that can employ many other communication channels at once, including video, email, phone, and chat — even social media, in some cases.


Hosting a webinar is a cost-effective approach to reaching a global audience and boosting brand awareness while providing key information about your company, product, or market through an informative and educational experience.

How to Improve This Channel

You can drive audience engagement by providing the ability to take polls during an interactive webinar or addressing audience members’ questions at the end of the presentation during a Q&A period.

Make sure you’re providing participants with content that delivers a value-add, not just marketing for your company, service, or product. Also, repurpose appropriate webinar content in other channels, like email, that you may be using in your omnichannel strategy.

8. Social Media

An estimated 5 billion people worldwide frequent social media platforms, and an average user spends time on seven social networks each month. While growth in users has been slowing across social media, platforms such as Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube (plus other major players) still attract and maintain vast audiences.


Many Millennial and Gen Z consumers discover new brands and products via social media, so it’s an important tool for engaging with these younger audiences. One of the fastest-growing trends in social media is the addition of click-to-call, chat, and messaging features that all brands and customers to connect directly inside leading platforms.

How to Improve This Channel

Fully utilizing the omnichannel capabilities of key platforms can help you boost your social media communication with customers. For example:

  • Instagram has a direct contact button that connects customers to businesses via email with a single click.
  • Google allows businesses to embed call buttons in search results, a feature used by 70% of mobile searchers.
  • Facebook offers a suite of tools that assist users in locating businesses on the platform as well as its Facebook Messenger app.  

9. Forums

Online forums can be a fruitful channel for customer interactions. Know that online forums have evolved significantly since the AOL chat rooms of the early days of the public Internet. Some of the biggest online forums today are Reddit, Quora, and GitHub.


Forums are a cost-effective channel for connecting with customers already interested in your brand or industry and reaching your target audiences. Online forums promote discussion, so users can share their views and suggest ideas that can inform your brand strategy moving forward.

How to Improve This Channel 

Make sure you’re present in conversations about topics that are relevant to your business and take the opportunity to interact with forum members by joining the discussion. Pay attention to what forum members are saying and add value to the conversation where you can. (Just take care not to sell overtly in online forums, or you could face some backlash.)

10. Surveys

Surveys are vital for gathering information and feedback from customers. They’re also effective tools for customer outreach, provided you don’t overwhelm your target audience with questions or inundate them with survey requests.

You can conduct surveys face-to-face, by phone or online. Online services like SurveyMonkey and Google Forms help businesses create and distribute customer surveys, often for free.


Online surveys are typically rapid response. A customer receives an email or text and acts on it almost immediately because the survey can be completed in just a few clicks. Responses can be gathered automatically and analyzed.

How to Improve This Channel

Online responses to surveys are more immediate and reliable, and, unlike paper surveys, they can be targeted to respondents anywhere for little or no cost. 

Make sure you define your goals and identify your target audience before drafting questions and choose a survey format designed to elicit simple, concise responses. But don’t let respondents take shortcuts. You want all the input you can get from the investment.

Also, consider offering incentives for your audience to secure wider participation, such as a special discount or prize. 

11. Chatbot

In many cases, communicating with a chatbot via text or audio is an experience similar to communicating with a real person. Chatbots can interpret words and phrases typed or spoken to them and provide instant, predetermined answers. 

Chatbots are also a growing communication channel. Chatbots and intelligent virtual assistants (IVAs) are part of the rapidly growing conversational AI market, which is projected to be worth US$4.9 billion by 2032.


Chatbots are conversational agents used in almost every industry today, including education, healthcare, and insurance. They can operate as salespeople, customer support, and take food orders for delivery. Chatbots are relatively inexpensive and easy to develop, and they can be deployed quickly.

How to Improve This Channel

PwC found that 71% of consumers would rather interact with a human than a chatbot. So, the key to making chatbots work for any business is to stay on top of your brand’s emotional quotient (EQ). Make your chatbot “human” by giving it a name (Amtrak’s IVA is named “Julie,” for example). But be sure to set customer expectations from the outset; don’t let people think they’re speaking with a human when they’re not. 

12. Contact Forms

Contact forms on websites are a convenient channel for customers to engage with businesses and ask questions, and for businesses to collect customer data. Users type in their information, like their name and address, in the form’s fields. Once the customer submits the form, they receive an email response from the company.


If you use contact forms on your business website, you have no need to publish email addresses. So, one of the major benefits of using forms is cutting down on spam emails coming into your business. 

From a conversion perspective, customers can use forms to contact you without leaving your website. If you run an e-commerce site, that’s good news, because it means your customers are less likely to leave without checking out. 

How to Improve This Channel

Make sure to use a well-designed contact form. Poorly designed forms are quickly abandoned. Don’t ask customers to fill in too many fields but gather enough information to make the exercise valuable. Experts suggest limiting the number of fields to five

Also, make sure you optimize forms for viewing on the smallest-screen smartphone. Consider that more website visits in the United States (and many other countries, including in Asia) are on mobile devices than on computers today.

Using Invoca in Customer Communication Channels

Leading companies use Invoca to improve their customer communications strategy. Invoca’s automated quality assurance, intelligent routing, and in-platform coaching features work together to create seamless contact center experiences. The result: higher satisfaction, more conversions, and less churn. 

Invoca allows you to give your contact center agents real-time comments on their performance

In addition, Invoca’s conversation intelligence capabilities can help you understand your customers’ wants and needs on a deeper level. Invoca’s AI can identify trends from customer conversations at scale, and that insight can help you improve customer communication, elevate customer experiences, and improve engagement and retention.

That’s what happened when Spectrum Retirement Communities, a leading operator of retirement, assisted living, and memory care facilities, used Invoca’s Signal AI to improve its customer communication at an especially critical and unusual time.

Spectrum Retirement faced a dilemma at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic: It had just launched a major marketing campaign, but had to pivot to crisis response swiftly as lockdowns unfolded across the 48 states where it operates.

Using Invoca’s Signal AI, Spectrum’s crisis response team tracked 16,000 calls from patients and their families which referenced the pandemic. They used insights from the tenor and tone of those calls to craft effective messaging and responses to calm their customers’ fears.

Spectrum Retirement also incorporated these messages into proactive communications to keep its customers informed about shifting guidelines and how the company was responding. As a result, they kept residents safe, secured more than 160 favorable customer reviews, and achieved a 20% reduction in resident turnover.

Read the full story here

Additional Resources

Want to learn more about how Invoca can help you improve customer communication in your contact center? Check out these resources:

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