As I’ve posted before, Live Chat is another customer service channel that has been added to the arsenal for engaging and satisfying customers, increasing sales and production, and keeping staffing costs at a comfortable level.
Why add it?
- Younger consumers are used to communicating through this medium and more business customers are beginning to embrace it.
- It is the perfect channel for those who prefer to interact in a format that gives them the flexibility to think over their questions and answers before committing to them and to step away from the chat to perform requested actions.
- The long latency of email is eliminated.
A study by Internet Retailer shows that 10% to 15% of people who are browsing a site will buy if they are engaged in online chat versus 2% when engagement through online chat is not offered. In addition, proactive chat, where the agent offers to interact based on online customer behavior, has proven to increase conversion rates by as much as 20% versus purely reactional sales interactions. Obviously these are more retail service considerations, but could be included in a support setting if it appears the customer is not finding the answers she needs.
Live Chat is not yet in the mainstream as a customer service channel, but its use is quickly accelerating. There is still a window of opportunity to use Live Chat to differentiate customer service from competitors, but it is closing fast. If done well, that differentiation will continue to earn customer loyalty even after it becomes a common service and marketing channel. Key phrase in that last sentence: If done well.
Any new channel done well will attract customers. Do it poorly and it reflects back on the entire business. Not only will all of your support channels be labeled in the customer’s mind as hopeless, he will likely think the entire company is shoddy. So do your homework first. Don’t go live until all the kinks are worked out.
In order to leverage Live Chat to its highest capabilities, the application features and the customer service agent skills must be chosen in consideration with customer service goals. The better these features and skills match goals, the quicker the return on investment. This doesn’t mean you have to hire more CSR’s so much as you will need to find out what your existing CSRs’ talents are and who is most suited to running a chat support line. Training should no be overlooked, either.
So get your chat on and go help those customers!