chatcustomerserviceChat has always been right on the bubble in terms of becoming a major customer service channel. But since social media and texting have made short, personalized messaging the mainstream method of communication, chat is now being deployed by more companies across more channels than ever before to improve the customer experience.
Chat allows today’s hyper-connected customers to stay online, avoid hold times, multitask while they’re seeking customer service, and use the brief messaging bursts of language they’ve become accustomed to on their smartphones and social media, all keys to saving time, which is a huge consideration for today’s consumer.
Forrester data shows that 71% of US online adult consumers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide good service, and a 2013 LivePerson Connecting with Customers report which surveyed 5,700 global consumers corroborates this.
The data shows that online consumer expectations are rapidly increasing. Eight-three percent (83%) of the more than 5,000 consumers said they consistently need some type of support during their online journey, and the expectations for speed of service should prove intimidating for most brands:
- 71% expect assistance within five minutes.
- If they don’t receive it, 48% will abandon the site (this percentage jumps to 58% for consumers in the UK).
Consumers also ranked the top three elements of a great online experience:
- Getting my issue resolved quickly (82%)
- Getting my issue resolved in a single interaction (56%)
- Dealing with a friendly customer service representative (45%)
This is why chat makes so much sense as a complementary service channel. Not only is service fast and immediately accessible, but it’s personalized, too. In a new Forrester report, Market Overview: Chat Solutions for Customer Service, Forrester analysts Kate Leggett and Art Schoeller offer some key reasons to view chat as a competitive customer service differentiator, including:
- Chat usage rates have risen in the past three years from 30% to 43%.
- All demographics are comfortable with the channel; even one-third of Older Boomers and the Golden Generation use chat for customer service.
- Satisfaction rates for chat are only superseded by those for voice (63% rating for chat, 69% for voice).
As an example of chat’s ability to increase satisfaction, the Forrester report notes that Virgin Atlantic Airways’ use of the channel has helped raise the brand’s CSAT scores to over 80%.
Here are five additional reasons why a growing number of brands are deciding it’s finally time to chat with customers:
- Cost Efficiency: Live chat is a cost-conscious choice for those organizations that want to provide more personalized service. Customers can get one-on-one assistance from a live customer service representative at their convenience, while companies save because behind the scenes, agents can handle multiple chats simultaneously. Chat is also known to increase first contact resolution rates.
- Functionality: Companies can utilize live chat in a game, on a form, in an application, as part of their knowledgebase or with an online shopping cart. It can even be deployed on a brand’s Facebook page. Many organizations also monitor their web analytics, deploying chat on the pages of their websites with the highest exit rates.
- Increased Sales: Chat is known to improve web conversion rates, as it keeps consumers from abandoning online shopping carts and order forms. It is also considered a key upselling and cross-selling tool. Agents can view a customer’s purchase and service history and suggest related products and services, or upgrades.
- Dual Use: Organizations can use chat solely as a reactive channel, leaving it entirely up to the customers to click on the button for live chat assistance, or brands can use it as a proactive channel, inviting and engaging users to chat based on custom criteria such as if the customer has visited the site often in the past few days, is taking a long time on the checkout page or form, etc.
- Popularity: Forrester data shows that Generations Z and X have higher satisfaction chatting with a live agent rather than speaking on the telephone with a live agent, as talking by typing is the preferred method of communication for the greater part of the younger audience.
Chat as a primary customer service channel has come of age. Watch for it to have an increasingly prominent role as a preferred method as consumers become increasingly connected and turn to chat so multitask and save time.
Click here to access the new Forrester report Market Overview: Chat Solutions for Customer Service to learn more about chat as a customer service channel and review 20 of the top live chat vendors for customer service, including Parature.
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