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4 Ways Live Chat Reduces Your Operating Costs

At its core, running a successful business requires earning more than you spend. Even if you have the best product or service in the world, spending too much on operating costs will always yield poor — or nonexistent — profits.

Live chat is an excellent way to reduce operating costs related to support, and even sales and marketing. According to a 2012 Aberdeen Group Report, companies that use live chat save up to 50% or more on support costs versus other methods. Not only can live chat reduce your operating costs, but it can also increase your top-line revenue.

Recommended for you: The Top 10 Live Chat Software Vendors Reviewed

Increase agent efficiency through routing

The immediacy of live chat lets agents solve customer inquiries in real time. But what if you could take that one step further? What if you could have customer inquiries delivered to the agent most qualified to answer them every time – instead of playing a game of endless phone transfer tag through departments?

Not all live chat providers offer fully customizable routing capabilities, but being able to identify the source or nature of a live chat inquiry gives your agents an advantage. It is three times more expensive to handle and escalate a customer inquiry than it is to resolve it on the first point of contact. Being able to route queries to the most qualified agent saves customers from needing to repeatedly explain their issue to different agents – and increases your First Call Resolution (FCR) rate.

Intelligent routing can even be automated, without asking your customers to complete a pre-chat survey: you can use custom parameters such as query type, page location, or even the website source of a chat request, to automatically route the inquiry to a specialized agent without having to collect additional information or transfer within departments.

You can align custom parameters to your unique business needs. For example, you can route inquiries based on topics to the appropriate subject matter expert, or even based on language and region to an agent who is fluent in that language and familiar with the region. This gives agents valuable time and context to prepare the information needed to handle more complex queries. Agents will be able to anticipate what kind of issues they are dealing with before the chat begins, making them less likely to subject the customer to delays.

Reducing customer effort is one of the most important factors in building long term brand loyalty amongst customers. When customers get quality, detailed, expert answers within their first customer service interaction, they’re more likely to come back. Increased agent efficiency means happier customers, reduced costs, and more top-line revenue for your business.

Quicker time to resolution

Picture this: A user calls you for support on how to set up or use your product. With traditional phone support, the agent must walk the user through the process step by step, which can be time consuming and rack up high phone and labour costs. That’s also only if the customer manages to make it past the queue.

Now, if you take the same scenario and switch out the phone for live chat, you can speed up the time to resolution by leaps and bounds. Rather than needing to detail a step-by-step process verbally, agents can push links, screenshots, knowledge base articles, or even how-to videos to assist in resolving a customer inquiry. With a few clicks, live chat can help you resolve a query in minutes that otherwise might have taken you hours. Bonus: while the customer is busy following the instructions provided, your agent can move on to another chat.

This scenario can be applied to any other support channel. Going back and forth on email or messaging support might still take days for each party to reply due to the delayed nature of email. Live chat allows for real-time support and instantaneous resolution of customer service inquiries.

Taking it a step further, the best-in-class live chat solutions will offer enterprise grade features like audio-video chat, and screen sharing which is a step up from the standard screen-sharing. With screen sharing, an agent can not only view the customer’s screen, but also take control of their screen. This allows the agent to not only resolve the customer’s inquiry but go the extra mile and demonstrate how this inquiry can be resolved in the future. With No back and forth, and no verbal walkthrough, the agent will quickly be able to show the customer the exact steps needed to resolve their inquiry.

A quicker time to resolution can help agents resolve more customer inquiries faster than other support channels. This in turn can lead to reduced operational costs for your team, and long term savings for your business.

Reduced fixed costs

Other support channels, like phone support, often come associated with costly ongoing maintenance costs. An example can be seen in the cost of toll-free numbers, which have been around since the late 1960s as a customer support channel. While these toll-free numbers allow customers to place long distance calls to the company quickly and without any associated fees, these toll-free calls are far from free to the company. Toll-free calling is actually quite costly when compared to traditional long-distance: Not only do you have to pay an ongoing cost to maintain the number, but the company also has to cover the per-minute charges for every call.

Depending on the volume of customer inquiries the company gets, this can quickly add up to thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of dollars in operating costs. Fortunately, with the Internet becoming more accessible and ubiquitous worldwide, more and more companies are switching to live chat.

Live chat is much less costly than traditional support channels like phone support. Ongoing maintenance costs for live chat are drastically lower than phone support. Moreover, the live chat solution itself is more efficient as it allows agents to help multiple customers at once, which is impossible for phone-based support agents.

Best Practice Tip: Be wary of free live chat providers or providers that charge per chat! Free likely means you get less functionality and inferior vendor support, whereas per-chat could end up being more expensive in the long run.

Better upsell opportunities

Companies that use live chat have a 2.4 times greater annual increase in upsell revenue. Whether they opt for more expensive products or add to their order, customers who use live chat before making a purchase show a 10 percent increase in average order value.

A common example can be seen in upselling phone plans in the telecommunications industry. Typical support calls from customers include queries about phone data overage. Upselling phone plans with better data packages is already a common practice, but success depends on many variables, including an agent’s ability to communicate the benefits of upgrading. In some cases, it may be difficult to verbally differentiate between packages or justify why the additional cost is worth the customer’s while in a way they can quickly and easily digest.

Live chat allows agents to communicate in a more natural, visually engaging way than on the phone. With chat, your agents can more easily show the benefits of a higher cost phone plan or other products, by sending links, images or documents that make it easier for a customer to understand. Taking it a step further, agents can also have canned messages that articulate special promotions or discounts that your business is running. Rather than needing to take time to verbally detail each offering to different customers, every promotion and special is just a single click away.

Customers with that information on hand are much more likely to successfully convert to an upsell as opposed to a phone conversation. If your agent can upsell the customer during a support chat, not only does this lead to cost savings, but also to direct profit. Chat can help turn support queries into a sales opportunity and increase top-line revenue – killing two birds with one stone by resolving your customer queries while generating leads. With live chat, your team can take advantage of every opportunity to try and close more sales.

Win-win for your customers and your business

Businesses are always looking for ways to cut costs without compromising quality. Forrester research has shown that live chat customer service is 17-30% cheaper than a phone call. Live chat offers customers real-time support at a lower cost for companies while also generating direct profit – a win-win situation for your customers and your business. Lowered operating costs means long-term savings, so you can invest that money into helping your business scale and grow.

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Lisa Dimyadi

About Lisa Dimyadi

Lisa is the Content Marketing Specialist at Comm100. She is passionate about writing, content creation and project management. In her spare time you can find her taking online courses or planning community events. Connect with her on LinkedIn.