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Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Support Channels: Which is Better for Agents and Customers? - FCR - Blog

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Support Channels: Which is Better for Agents and Customers?

This article was originally published on August 15, 2018 on CustomerThink as part of Jeremy’s regular advisor column. Click here to read the original post.

I’ve found the topic of support channel mix to be an interesting study in organizations. Traditional channels can be categorized a few different ways. Phone and video are live channels that use both spoken and nonverbal communication. Email, not a live channel, is a written mode of communication. Then there’s chat that straddles the fence between phone and email, offering the ability for a live customer interaction but in writing.

The delineation between voice and text-based, live and not live has increased in complexity with the advent of new channels like text messaging (SMS), social media, Facebook Messenger, Apple Business Chat, and WhatsApp. How should these channels be categorized and handled?

Synchronous vs Asynchronous

In a recent conversation with the folks over at Intercom, a provider of customer messaging software, I learned a new way of categorizing support channels – synchronous and asynchronous.

Synchronous communication is a live conversation with a clear start and end and can typically be identified by faster response times. This always includes phone but, depending on the software we use also includes live chat and other messaging channels. In synchronous conversations you might experience agents saying/writing things like, “Is there anything else I can help you with today?” or “Are you still there?” or “If I’ve resolved everything for you can you please click ‘end conversation’ in the top right corner of your screen?” At that point the conversation is complete.

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Email is a good example of asynchronous communication that’s a bit more open-ended and typically has slower response times. A conversation might be marked as “solved” in the ticketing system after responding but can easily be reopened by customers if they need to write back with more questions. In my conversation with Intercom, I was surprised to learn that their platform is asynchronous. I had initially categorized with traditional synchronous chat providers. With this platform, however customers can visit a company’s website and initiate a chat with customer service. They can navigate away from the site and then come back later to continue their conversation with support.

Initially when I heard about this difference, especially for chat, I was skeptical. But when I recalled the number of times I’ve had customers complain that someone hung up on them during a chat conversation, it started to make a lot of sense. Still, I think there’s a place in your customer support operation for both synchronous and asynchronous communication. Let’s look at the advantages of each and then I’ll conclude with some recommendations.

Advantages of Synchronous

Let’s first look at some of the advantages of synchronous communication – and in this group I would include phone, in person, video, and synchronous chat support.

  • Resolve complex issues more efficiently. There comes a point in escalated asynchronous conversations that we need to cut to the chase and get their issue resolved. A phone call or an in person visit with someone who’s empowered to solve the issue is still the best support channel for these sorts of situations.
  • Focus on the issue and customer from start to finish. While the issue might not always be resolved on the first contact, there’s always a start and a finish to these interactions and it’s generally dictated by the customer. Assuming the customer can connect in a reasonable amount of time, they’re more likely to address all of their concerns quicker through synchronous communication in a less drawn out way.
  • Non-verbal communication and the human connection. The various synchronous channels I mentioned fall somewhere on a spectrum with in-person and chat support being on opposite ends. Nonverbal communication is important to human communication and the absence of it can be an obstacle to overcome. If there are aspects in the customer journey where a genuine human to human connection is required or desired, synchronous communication is the way to go.

Advantages of Asynchronous

There are also some clear advantages to asynchronous communication and this includes email, sometimes chat, and for the most part social, SMS, etc.

  • Allow the customer to go at their pace. Sometimes our customers lead busy lives and only have the time to send a quick message to support before they move on to another issue, appointment, or meeting. The ability to get the ball rolling now rather than waiting for a large enough window of time in their schedule is preferable – especially for issues that aren’t as urgent.
  • Keep the conversation open-ended. This is a sub point to the previous one. Many contact centers have a process, especially with synchronous chat that if customers don’t respond in three to five minutes they say something like, “It appears you’ve stepped away. I’m going to disconnect this chat. Feel free to contact us again when you’re back.” I mentioned this earlier but I’ve reviewed enough of these conversations to know that customers often feel abandoned by support and dread having to initiate another chat to start all over again. Asynchronous communication keeps track of the conversation and doesn’t require the customer to start over because it never actually ends.
  • A more mobile-friendly option. We know that the increase in popularity of new messaging channels is due largely to our ever-increasing dependence on mobile devices. Channels like SMS, social, etc. thrive on mobile because of their ability to send short, quick messages. One of my long-standing pet peeves about synchronous chat support is that once I get an agent on the line, I’m tethered to my computer until that interaction completes. Asynchronous conversations move at the customer’s pace, traveling with them on their preferred device(s).
  • A natural relationship with self-help. Whereas synchronous messaging is better for the human connection, asynchronous paves the way for artificial intelligence to help answer some questions, especially those that might be easily solved with a knowledge base article. But before settings your sights on chatbots, here are some ways from a past column to use AI to understand the customer’s needs and smartly serve up the right self-help content.

What to consider when evaluating channel mix

So where does this leave us in the debate between synchronous and asynchronous communication? I’m not sure there was a debate to begin with. Both have clear strengths, but the mixture may look different for your organization depending on the customers you serve and the complexity of issues you handle. Here are some recommendations:

1. Know your customers, their issues, and expectations.

Are the issues urgent, complex, or highly technical in nature? What’s the generational makeup of your customer base? You may find that for certain issues and people synchronous messaging is the way to go. I’ve worked with a number of startups that only offer email support and it’s interesting reading survey feedback where customers say, “PLEASE CALL ME” or “PLEASE GIVE ME A NUMBER TO CALL SUPPORT.” Receive enough of that kind of feedback and it’s a clue that asynchronous communication might not work for all situations.

2. Start by offering great service on existing channels before adding more.

How many companies spin up social media teams because their phone support sucks? That’s a gross generalization but if the motivation to add any support channel is solely to mitigate poor service levels on another channel, the problem will only get worse. Beefing up self-help content is a good first step to help peel off some of the unnecessary volume to existing channels. From there you may need to seriously test whether or not adding a new channel will significantly reduce volume on other channels and improve your overall customer experience.

3. Use fewer tools, not more.

With the right tools you can consolidate asynchronous messaging so agents aren’t juggling several different platforms. I recently had a great conversation with the folks at Sparkcentral about their expansion from a social media engagement platform to include SMS, in-app, and on-web messaging. And it’s not just them. Many others are moving in this direction. This also makes staffing those channels and appropriately prioritizing the work a whole lot easier.

4. Empower agents to move conversations from asynchronous to synchronous and vice versa.

There will be times when the issue at hand is best resolved in another support channel and agents should be empowered and encouraged to understand when it’s time to switch. Here are a few examples:

  • After several emails back and forth we discover the issue is highly technical and we’re getting nowhere. It’s time to pick up the phone and call the customer.
  • A customer sends a question that’s covered in the knowledgebase. We answer the question in the channel they initially used but we also take the time to educate them on some of our fantastic self-help resources.
  • The customer has stepped away from their desk during a synchronous chat conversation and we need to move on to other chats. We open a ticket with a copy of the chat conversation and send the customer an email. They can then reply in an asynchronous channel at their convenience and pick up right where they left off.

Chances are that your customer service operation supports both synchronous and asynchronous communication channels and that’s great. There’s a time and a place for both and hopefully these recommendations help you do them well. If you have a moment, please share your thoughts on support channel mix in your organization and the whys behind it. How did you arrive at that channel mix and what strategies do you have in place to communicate with customers on the channel appropriate to their preference and issue type?


Publish Date: September 26, 2018 5:00 AM

2021 Buyers Guide Cloud Contact Center Solutions

Page: 1234
Accordia Solution

Accordia Solution CIS
Accordia Solution is an innovative developer of seamlessly integrated cost-effective omnichannel Contact Center Solutions specifically targeted at the micro, small and medium operations.Our core business model involves the development and marketing of IP Telephony and IP Contact Center Solutions. We also strive to develop customer interaction solutions which include contact center and customer relationship management (CRM) that enhances Customer Experience Of The Future (CEOTF) and optimizes agent productivity.

Our flagship product, the Accordia Customer Interaction Suites (CIS), offers comprehensive functionality by helping your business meet and exceed the level of service in line with...
(read more)

Adversus Dialer

Adverus Dialer
Adversus is a web-based dialer and practical CRM solution for telemarketing, fundraising, and appointment scheduling businesses.

Alcor Consulting, Inc.

Omnichannel contact center platform which can be deployed on-premise, private cloud or public cloud subscription. Our contact center provides all of the modern features expected in a full contact center solution. Includes voice, SMS, chat, email, and social media integration. Built-in integrations for all major CRM's (Plus a built-in CRM). Survey module and QA module are also available.


Alvaria Cloud
Alvaria Cloud is the only enterprise cloud contact center solution that allows you to adopt best-of-breed Customer Experience (CX) and Workforce Engagement Management (WEM) applications modularly. Start with one or more applications and then add applications with ease when ready for additional capabilities, as your needs change. With the Alvaria Cloud Platform, you have the advantage of knowing that all provisioning, security, user management and other administrative tasks are already configured and in place.


Genesis Intelligent Series
Genesis is the latest advancement in Amtelco’s long line of call center solutions. This call center technology is entirely software-based and virtualized, with cloud-based capability. Genesis provides skills-based automatic call distribution (ACD), built-in speech recognition, text-to-speech (TTS), and voice services to improve call routing and management.

Arise Virtual Solutions

The Arise Platform
Arise is a pioneer of on-demand customer management business process outsourcing solutions, headquartered in Florida. Through the cloud-based Arise Platform, Fortune 50 and other companies connect to Service Partners who deliver authentic, loyalty-building interactions with their customers. Delivering radical flexibility to meet even extreme contact volume fluctuations, the award-winning Arise Platform is an innovative alternative to the traditional contact center.

Astute Solutions

Astute Agent
Astute Agent gives your agents everything they need to work cases confidently and efficiently. This modern case management CRM is the preferred choice for Consumer Relations and Customer Care teams who support some of the world’s most prestigious brands.

Astute Agent balances agent efficiency with customer experience. Here’s how:

- Automated email responses
Using natural language processing, Astute Agent reads incoming customer emails and automatically supplies a response to agents to review and send.

- Auto-populated case fields
AI capabilities automatically suggest reason codes, product codes, and other case information, saving agents minutes per case.

- Time-saving case feat...
(read more)

Britannic Technologies

INBOX allows any digital interaction to be blended into single or multiple queues with zero service interruption with implementation. Organising them by business context with smart tagging and search filters, the events can be automatically prioritised and categorised. Automating the route to the correct agent or business orchestration rule. It also connects with all your social media channels, enabling you to respond and route accordingly in real-time. Customer sentiment is also indicated. Use it to measure trends across your business or by a single event so that your agents can easily prioritise responses.

Brook Trout Solutions

CCaaS, SIP Trunking, SD WAN, Interconnectivity
Brook Trout Solutions provides Technology Guide services to help Contact Centers to the best possible solution for their business. This includes:
CCaaS: Talk Desk, Five 9s, Nice, Genesys and more
SIP Trunks: Many Global Providers to lower cost and improve operational efficiency
SD WAN: Connect to customers rapidly with the latest network technology to scale with flexibility.
Our service are at no cost to our customers. We look forward to meeting you!

Call Center Studio

Call Center Studio
Call Center Studio is the world’s first call center built on Google and is one of the most secure and stable systems with some of the industry’s best reporting. It is one of the most full-featured enterprise grade systems (with the most calling features, one of the best call distribution, outbound dialing features and integrations—including IVR, AI Speech Recognition, blended inbound/outbound calling and includes Google’s new Dialogflow and Speech API. Call Center Studio is the absolute easiest to use (with a 10 minute setup), and is the price performance leader with lower equipment cost and less setup time.

Call Tracking Metrics

CallTrackingMetrics is the only contact center solution with marketing attribution software built in. Our powerful UCaaS platform lets you know upfront who is calling in, what campaigns they were referencing, and their previous history with your company. Partnering this data with tools to automate and streamline your team’s workflow frees you up to focus on truly delighting your customers.

Conditionally direct calls, texts, chats and forms based on:

• Actions the customer has taken on your website
• Whether they’ve previously contacted your business
• Which agent they last interacted with
• Custom criteria unique to your business needs
• The location nearest to your customer

(read more)


Welcome to CallShaper – Harnessing the Power of the Cloud for Greater Sales Efficiency
For sales-based call centers, where margins are so tight, it’s all about closing. Thanks to CallShaper, inbound or outbound call center directors can have a dynamic, highly flexible platform that enables sales agents to focus on making the sale.

Thanks to CallShaper’s flexibility, call center directors who are managing multiple vendors from multiple locations can have everything they need on one platform that offers 99.999% reliability. And when it comes to reporting, CallShaper has no equal in providing real-time transparency.

With CallShaper, clients quickly find that they are better able to manage efficiencies at the sales rep level – and make more money!

Cloud Call Center Search

From AI - WFO and everything in between!
Cloud Call Center Search has spent hundreds of hours evaluating and vetting leading cloud software applications (Omni-Channel, Artificial Intelligence, Business Intelligence, Workforce Management and many others) and their actual use in the trenches with real-world clients. As a result, we understand the strengths and weaknesses of cloud-based call center software solutions. At NO charge, Cloud Call Center Search will match your organization with the cloud software providers that are the best fit to drive positive ROI in your customer experience, sales, and back-office operations.

Cloud IT Services GmbH

Dialfire offers you a complete call center solution that is simple and intuitive to use and adapts to your needs. It's completely cloud-based, saving you the hassle of setting up a phone system and installing software. In addition to predictive dialing and call blending of inbound calls, you can create personalized campaigns through an intuitive and easy-to-use interface. Features include automated workflows and full control over the agent screen.

You can see the full list of features here:

Connex One

Cloud contact centre technology with built in gamification tools, workforce optimiser, omni-channel, speech analytics, artificial intelligence, quality assurance, PCI-DSS payment platform, form builder and much more features. All seamlessly integrating with almost 100% of your inhouse applications & CRM systems - creating one powerful workflow platform. Increasing productivity, customer engagement, saving you cost. Available in opex model - pay per license per month. No binding contracts with NO cost for 24/7/365 support and full training with built in SLA.

Consilium Software

Consilium AWS and Amazon Connect Offering
Imagine a cloud-based contact center that can make customer engagement easy, deliver answers, assistance, and resolutions in a very personal manner, and in the context of your customers’ actions. Amazon Connect is a self-service, cloud-based contact center that provides a seamless omnichannel experience through a single unified platform for voice and chat. Contact center agents and managers don’t have to learn multiple tools, because Amazon Connect has the same contact routing, queuing, analytics, and management tools in a single UI across voice, chat, and mobile interface. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform, offering over 175 fully...
(read more)


Cloud contact software that makes customer contact pain free, so your team aren’t worrying about complex technology and can focus on what they do best. Take control, and design the perfect agent interface with a drag-n-drop visual editor. Combined with AI, leverage data-driven contact strategies to ensure the right agent is contacting your customers at the right time & on the right channel.

Content Guru

Content Guru makes engagement easy. A global leader in cloud communications solutions, we deliver off-the-shelf and bespoke customer engagement and cloud contact centre services, through the multi-award-winning 𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝗺® platform.

Europe’s largest Customer Engagement and Experience platform, 𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝗺, brings together intelligent automation, third-party systems integration, and on-demand scalability to enhance all customer communication functions. With true omni-channel engagement capabilities, 𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝗺 gives organisations the power to create consistent and seamless experiences for customers, inspiring loyalty and powering success.


Convoso is the #1 dialer software for outbound lead gen/sales-related contact centers. Our cloud-based omnichannel solution solves the biggest frustrations call centers have with their dialer, including:

*Caller ID reputation
*Call flagging/blocking
*Low contact rates
*Limited insight into list performance
*Time wasted resetting lead lists
*Dropped calls
*Poor answering machine detection

Customers report dramatic increases in contact rates of up to 300%, delivering more conversions and significantly improved ROI.

CSX Cloud

CSX Cloud
CSX Cloud provides a full omnichannel cloud-based turn-key customer communications solution as a service based on a monthly subscription with no long term commitments. Our easy to use solution and top-notch customer service makes it an easy choice to get started today.
Page: 1234

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