Is Live Chat a Benefit to your Business?

It’s not something new that with all these technological advances, it’s a good move to adopt tools to improve your customer services.  But how many know that the costs to use is nothing compared to how much money you can save for the business.  Probably not many!  Live chat and other somewhat self-service component are a huge benefit to any business, and leaders such as LivePerson and Olark have changed the way businesses offer support to their businesses.  In a recent LinkedIn discussion in which I was active on, someone asked whether it was a benefit to use live chat for their customer service or was it a waste of time.

Firstly, I was intrigued by this notion of asking because I have been so involved in technology for customer service, that I had to get involve and see how my insights could help.  I love tools like live chat that help the customer get the support they need.

I decided to ask a few peers their views on the importance of live chat and its benefits.

Jeffrey Rega is Senior Customer Care Manager at Press+.  He said “I love live chat! I think it not only gives your customers more ways to contact you in the manner that they please, it will also allow your agents to have some extra variety throughout the day, thus increasing their morale.

Keep in mind that there will still be “wait times” if you have a rush of customers try and chat with you at once or if your chat option is more popular than you expect.

Things to keep in mind:
– Don’t let your agents handle too many chats at once. Service will slip. I’ve found 2-3 is the max, but it depends on the agent and/or your business.
– Yes, call volume could decrease, but those people are still contacting you – just in a different way.
– Make sure you think ahead about staffing. Agent’s really shouldn’t be on the phones & chatting at the same time, so you may need to *increase* you’re staffing at first to properly manage all forms of customer contact.

In short, it’s all dependent on your business and if chat would really work for your customers. I would highly recommend it. I can make some suggestion for which companies I like – feel free to message me directly if you’re interested. “

It seems that Jeffrey thinks about employees.  Agents need to be happy in order to give a great service.

Sam Markham  works at Click4Assistance.  He has written many articles regarding the advantages and disadvantages of the new communication channel which you can check out at http://www.click4assistance.co.uk

He said that “From a service/technician point of view our feedback shows live chat is a growing area of communication with clients using this as a preferred method of contact.

Reasons for this include: the ability to handle multiple chats at any one time, operators can easily select from pre-defined answers to questions, making their job easier and ensuring clear and consistent answers conveyed in the corporate manner.

Although Live Chat does offer the ability to hold customers in a queuing system in the same way a phone system would, we do not recommend this. These days’ customers expect to be held in a queue on the phone, however with Live Chat they expect quick and direct answers immediately, one of the main reasons for its popularity.

Here is a nice article explaining how live chat can improve customer service.

Some figures we have complied recently from visitors using live chat across various industries (both product and service based):

How responsive they found the operator – an average of 88%
The quality of service the received – an average of 87%
The professionalism of the operator – an average of 89%
An overall rating of their experience – an average of 87%
What the visitor would have done if live chat had not been available:
Left the Website – 43%
Phoned the company – 29%
Emailed the company – 28%

With the ‘younger’ generation so used to text based communication (phone based text messages, Facebook chat, BBM) when given the option between picking up the phone and speaking with somebody or clicking a “chat button” I think we can confidently predict which the majority will choose.”

It seems that the use of live chat also makes businesses seem more technologically advanced and therefore make people who often use SMS, Facebook, Twitter, What’s App etc.

I got the opportunity to hear some thoughts from Richard Dani.  He is head of customer Service at AlleGroup LTD and often has a lot of insight.  He said:
“A bit more than a year ago we launched Live Chat Support – mostly but not entirely – to support our customers’ online purchases. Since then we have experienced approx. 10% higher customer satisfaction among those supported via live chat than those supported via e-mails. (the latter was/is our traditional way of communication) I guess it has 2 fundamental reasons: speed of answer and resolution time. (these 2 are also valid for phone communication as well)

Perhaps the most important factor of the successful live chat service is to be “live”: enquiring customers must have a response in a minute to feel to be really supported. Therefore you have to plan carefully and allocate the appropriate quantity of operators for the service.
I guess it is a bit less stressful than answering a phone call as it keeps a bit larger distance from customers because of the nature of it. It seems to be a good supplementary to phone conversation and it’s true that can be managed easier as an operator can have 3 chats simultaneously without any problem. If all operators are busy you can comfort customers with texts such as:”… Please wait. All agents are busy, you chat is expected to start in X minutes…” Of course it is almost the same as you can hear when you are in hold but customers tend to feel a bit more smoothly because they can type in their questions have a coffee meanwhile or check other pages in the Internet…

Customers want quick responds straight to the point that is why we do not apply pre-defined texts just in some special cases.
Of course a lot depends on the nature of your business (it is advantageous if you have been dealing in online business) but should your page is visited by a lot of people (b2c, c2c businesses) you can have a lot of online chatters to comfort the burden of phone calls.
We are delighted with our solution provider so I can help you in select it. (we have compared 8 solutions and tested 3 of them before making the final vote).”

Some very interesting points were made here.  We can see from of the industry experts and those who are in the business that live chat is a vital part of the support center.  Customers want help, and we all know that it costs money to have people call the center, so why not have them contact you via live chat.  Everyone is used to it, so it’s not hard for them to learn.

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Stefanie Amini
is Specialist in Customer Success and chief writer and editor of I Want It Now, a blog for Customer Service Experts. Follow her @StefWalkMe