How Slack Is Replacing Email for Customer Support Teams?

Sreyashi Chatterjee
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How Slack Is Replacing Email for Customer Support Teams?

Sreyashi Chatterjee
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Slack has replaced some of the most popular tools to become the top priority for large, medium, and small businesses regarding internal communication. Statista has even projected that the monthly Slack user base will hit 79 million by 2025. 

One of the critical reasons behind Slack’s unparalleled popularity is this tool’s ability to streamline communication and collaboration with customers. But a question has been doing the rounds for quite some time.

Can Slack Replace Email?

The answer to the question is “Yes”. Slack’s famous features, like thread messaging, changing status, workflows, etc., make it a solid contender for replacing customer support emails. If you lead a customer support team and still rely on emails, this article will explain why you should replace emails with Slack. 

‍Why Traditional Email Support Isn't the Best Option?

We are not saying that emails no longer work as customer support channels. Emails have been the solo torch-bearer of customer communication for the last two decades. However, standing in the era of automation, some limitations associated with emails make it a poor fit. These include: 

  • Lack of Collaboration: It’s difficult to loop in team members for their insights or to delegate tasks efficiently within an email thread. Collaboration is often limited to forwarding emails or copying others, leading to long and confusing threads.
  • Thread Fatigue: As mentioned above, email threads are long. Think from the customers’ perspective. Their inboxes are flooded with multiple emails. Why would they want to read a support email with 100+ threads? With so many back-and-forth replies, customers often miss out on critical updates on their complaints.
  • Repetitive Manual Communication: Emails must be more flexible when integrating with valuable tools like HubSpot, Zendesk, Salesforce, etc. Hence, every time a support executive needs to communicate something with the customer, they have to write it down or, at best, send a screenshot. That’s a massive waste of time for your internal team as well.
  • Lack of Effective Tracking Mechanisms: Emails don’t provide any visibility. For instance, if a customer complains about an email today, there is no way to track its status or find a due date for resolving the complaint. These result in delayed responses from support teams and frustrated customers, and it is harder to track key support metrics like response times, resolution rates, and customer satisfaction scores.

Slack vs. Email: Why Support Teams Love Using Slack to Communicate with Customers

Support teams love using Slack to communicate with customers because it helps them save time, communicate more effectively, and maintain better customer relationships. In addition to being easy to use, it provides several features that make it the best replacement for traditional email support:

  • Replacing Long Email Chains with Slack Channels: Slack lets you create channels for different discussions. For example, if your brand has three different offerings, say Products A, B, and C, you can create three different channels for these products and add customers to the relevant channels based on their interests using Slack Connect

You can also create one triage channel to direct all the incoming queries, messages, and tickets to one place and create a single source of information for the team. Furthermore, Slack channels are searchable; customers can easily search the relevant keywords to find the desired threads.

 Related Read: Learn How Support Teams Use Ticket Triage to Improve Customer Experience

  • Integration with Over 2600 Apps: Slack can connect with 2600+ apps for a seamless collaboration experience. The best part is it doesn’t charge additional costs for these integrations. Therefore, support executives can easily integrate CRM solutions like HubSpot, Salesforce Service Cloud, etc., or ticketing solutions like Freshdesk, Zendesk, Intercom, etc., to bring all customer queries to the Slack support channels.

Related Read: Learn How ClearFeed Streamlines Customer Support with Its Slack-Zendesk Integration

  • Automated Workflows to Boost Productivity: Slack’s built-in workflow builder can convert long processes into automated workflows. The best part is users without sound technical knowledge can use this feature as they don’t need to write a single line of code. Support executives can use this feature to build automated workflows that track customer queries from initial to post-resolution.
  • Prioritized Support Through “Save for Later” Features: Slack’s “Save for later” feature is a savior for support teams. Since support executives juggle multiple tasks, it becomes overwhelming for them to keep track of all tasks. With Slack’s “Save for Later” feature, they can save a thread or file for later. Slack reminders let you schedule a time when you want to be reminded about that action, ensuring nothing is missed by sending automated OOO replies, and teams can provide prioritized customer support.

What’s more? Unlike emails, with several restrictions when attaching media files, Slack supports sharing all media types, including images, videos, call recordings, and instant messaging. While emails bring the risk of phishing and spam, with Slack, these security risks are almost non-existent.

  • “Canvas” and Additional Features: Slack simplifies collaboration between support executives and customers. One of the best features of Slack is “Canvas,” which simplifies internal brainstorming among support team members. Once you create a Canvas for the internal team, you can add meeting notes and to-do lists, synchronize knowledge-based to maintain your support repository in one place, and enable advanced support functions such as automated answers. Customer support executives can pin required resources like technical documents or tutorials at the top of each channel for quick access.

Related Read: Learn How ClearFeed’s GPT-powered Automated Answers Improve Efficiency of Support Teams

When to Use Slack vs. Email?

To Slack or not to Slack - that is the question! When it comes to workplace communication, choosing the right channel can make all the difference. Shall you send an email or start a Slack thread? Though both have their merits, certain situations call for one over the other. 

Seek instant collaboration and chatter? Slack it up! Need to document decisions or send formal notices? Email is your friend. The key is matching the medium to the message. Slack shines for quick questions, status updates, and team banter. Email excels at paper trails, official records, and mass distribution. So consider your aims before you click send.

How to Transition from Email to Slack for Customer Support?

Transitioning from email to Slack for customer support involves careful planning and a phased approach. Here's a step-by-step approach to help you make a smooth transition:

  1. Conduct a Needs Assessment: Evaluate your current customer support workflow, identify pain points, and determine how Slack can address these issues. Consider the specific features and integrations you'll need.
  2. Select a Slack Plan and Set Up Workspaces: Choose the appropriate Slack plan for your team's size and needs. The platform offers various pricing options, and one can purchase the subscription based on their business needs.

Create dedicated workspaces and channels for customer support using Slack Connect and consider organizing channels by categories (e.g., general support, technical issues, billing inquiries).

  1. Add Tools and Apps: Integrate your existing customer support tools (e.g., ticketing system, CRM, helpdesk software) with Slack. This ensures a seamless flow of information and allows agents to create, track, and manage tickets directly from Slack. Here’s a how-to tutorial for you if you’re looking for Slack-Zendesk integration.
  2. Set Up Automation and Bots: Implement bots and automation to handle tasks like ticket creation, assigning request priorities, and status updates. This helps free up agents' time for more complex inquiries.

Related Read: Learn How ClearFeed’s Request Priorities Work and Reduce Response Times for Support Teams

  1. Establish a Triage Channel: Create a dedicated triage channel where incoming customer messages are initially assessed and sorted. Use this channel to quickly evaluate and prioritize tickets before routing them to the appropriate team or individual.
  2. Implement Channel Naming Conventions: Ensure clear and consistent channel naming conventions to ensure agents can easily identify and navigate the appropriate channels for handling different customer inquiries.
  3. Track Performance Metrics: Monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) such as response times, ticket volumes, and customer satisfaction scores to ensure that the transition to Slack is not adversely affecting customer support operations.

Related Read: Learn How ClearFeed’s Insights Help Support Teams to Improve Customer Communication

Slack Is Changing How Customer Support Teams Communicate

While Slack can streamline many aspects of a customer support environment, the biggest impact it will have is replacing email as the go-to way to handle high volumes of incoming queries and leveraging machine learning and AI. This approach increases team efficiency, reduces the reliance on busy team members, and provides open communication channels for other uses.

However, Slack is not a cure-all for customer support teams. It can be limited when bringing your customer satisfaction scores up or simplifying your workflow using automation. So, if you want to get organized and streamline your communications, ClearFeed can help. Get in touch with us and book a demo today!

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