Technology is changing many roles in business – even the roles of the people who are responsible for implementing it. As software moves increasingly to the cloud, CIOs – or Chief Information Officers – are finding that they are responsible not only for implementing new technologies, but also for spearheading digital transformation efforts within their organizations.
The shift from operating IT to orchestrating it is a result of several different forces and has many implications for CIOs. Today’s CIOs must always be on the lookout for new technologies that can help companies automate, innovate, and ultimately grow past what was previously believed to be possible.
This is where live chat comes in. Live chat is a platform that allows organizations to connect with their website visitors in real time – and that lets website visitors reach out to customer service or sales representatives with any questions they might have while browsing or making a purchase. Live chat can help your CIO achieve important executive and departmental goals, such as increase return on investment (ROI), overtake the competition, and make processes such as data collection and reporting more efficient.
What else can live chat do for your organization and – specifically – what can it do for your CIO? These are the top reasons why your CIO will love live chat.
More than it is shifting, the role of the CIO is actually expanding. According to Gartner, at least 84 percent of top CIOs have responsibility for areas in the business outside of traditional IT, such as innovation and transformation. As organizations expect CIOs to take on increasingly substantial roles, the influence that CIOs have on their business has also grown. Last year, the influence of CIOs reached a 10-year high, with more than 60 percent reportedly boasting access to board meetings.
These changes are impacting the way that CIO performance is measured. According to IT leaders, 56 percent of CIO success metrics are related to business outcomes such as revenue growth, business margins and influencing business strategy, while just 44 percent are related to IT delivery.
Perhaps as a result of these shifting metrics, growth tops the list of business priorities reported by CIOs for 2018, according to Gartner’s 2018 CIO Agenda Report. Live chat offers a low-cost way for CIOs to help their organizations grow, and therefore achieve their number one priority.
There are several ways that live chat helps stimulate growth in organizations. Here is a brief rundown of some of the key areas of growth that your CIO can expect to see with live chat.
Sales – A report by the American Marketing Association reveals that live chat increases conversions by 20 percent by remedying obstacles to purchase (such as customer doubts) and increasing buyer confidence. The same report shows that website visitors who use live chat are three times more likely to buy than visitors who don’t. Live chat grows sales by bringing a classic brick-and-mortar sales approach into the digital world. With live chat, businesses can proactively invite website visitors to chat with a representative at key stages of their customer lifecycle, reducing shopping cart abandonment rates and providing additional cross-sell and upsell opportunities.
Savings – Live chat helps companies grow their savings by reducing operational costs and increasing efficiency. Unlike phone and email support queries – which must be answered one at a time – a single live chat agent can participate in up to four live chat sessions at once, helping companies save big on staffing costs. Offering live chat also helps businesses save money on phone support: According to Forrester research, live chat customer service is 17 to 30 percent cheaper than a phone call. Another report released by The Aberdeen Group shows that, on average, companies that use live chat save up to 50 percent or more on support costs versus other methods.
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Engagement – Like SMS texting, live chat appeals to website visitors’ desire for short-form, real-time communication. By adding live chat as a customer touchpoint, you can build value for your visitors and grow consumer engagement.
Support Offerings – With live chat, agents can more easily assist visitors thanks to features such as screen sharing, the ability to “push” helpful links, audio and video chat functionalities, and more. Companies that grow their support offerings with live chat will improve their omnichannel strategy with a new channel that customers are already using.
Live chat provides a new stream of growth – and revenue – for CIOs. CIOs that introduce live chat to their companies will grow both their sales and customer service offerings, while increasing the business’ bottom line.
As consumer needs evolve, companies have been moving to meet them by shifting their digital strategy front and center. Today, as much as 95 percent of CIOs expect their jobs to change or be remixed due to digitalization. CIOs are now being challenged to boost digital business and lead digital transformation efforts by harnessing new and emerging technologies.
Despite growing corporate support of digital evolution, as Innovation Leader and COO, Marc Wilczek, writes, “CIOs are still resistant they, or their organization, is wary of significant cultural change. Almost half of this year’s (Gartner) survey respondents cited this as their biggest barrier.”
Even businesses that have a lingering cultural resistance to change want to see digital transformation take root. According to Forrester research, 60 percent of executives still think that their companies are behind on digital transformation initiatives.
For CIOs, live chat is a great investment in digital – it has been around long enough to prove that it works, yet it is still transformative and innovative. Quality live chat providers are constantly upgrading their services, delivering more convenient and useful features to businesses as they evolve.
Live chat is a digital transformation initiative that both executives and – even more importantly – customers want to see. According to Harris Research, 53 percent of customers would prefer to use online chat before calling a company for support. This is because customers find that live chat better satisfies their needs: Live chat has the highest customer satisfaction levels out of any support channel, with 73 percent, as compared to 61 percent for email support and only 44 percent for traditional phone support.
Live chat is a proven digital business initiative, not a shot in the dark. It is a simple digital transformation effort that can break through a static corporate culture, appealing to both executives and customers who want to enjoy the benefits of digital innovation.
No leader in an organization must be more willing to adapt to change than the CIO. One of those big changes is the shift towards artificial intelligence (AI).
According to CCW Digital’s Fall Executive Report, 80 percent of organizations call artificial intelligence “important.” Out of the companies surveyed for the report, 61 percent have plans to incorporate (or continue incorporating) AI into their customer experience in 2018.
Organizations and CIOs have been looking to AI as a means of supporting employees and customers, stimulating engagement, logging data and more. AI is also being used as a means of cutting costs: Findings from analysis firm Juniper Research show that conversational AI programs (in other words, chatbots) are expected to trim business costs by more than $8 billion per year by 2022. With quality live chat programs, companies can take an easy and responsible step towards AI automation without getting lost in the hype.
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Quality live chat software solutions can provide a platform for chatbot implementation on a company’s website. These chatbots are easy to build using the live chat provider’s existing interface, and can serve customers 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, extending the hours of the organization’s existing support team. Support chatbots handle a high percentage of user questions automatically: According to our 2018 Live Chat Benchmark Report, Comm100’s chatbot takes care of about 20 percent of all incoming live chat inquiries alone. As a result, chatbots reduce wait time for customers, lower labor expenses for companies, and free up customer service teams to focus on complex queries and other higher-value work.
There is another benefit to this kind of AI initiative: it works better and is more consistent than chatbots that rely too heavily on natural language processing (NLP) technology. Rather than trying to implement AI powered by NLP, it is important that CIOs use a practical, hybrid approach to this technology while it is still in its early stages. This is because unfortunately, NLP has an average precision rate of 60 to 70 percent, which is not reliable for many use cases.
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Website-based chatbots have the added benefit that customer service representatives can take over for bots that fail to assist a user with their query. This makes these kinds of chatbots a reliable starting point for AI and makes sure that they help rather than hinder the user experience.
Six percent of CIOs say that their prime objective for 2018 is operational efficiency. Chatbots that are available through live chat providers help CIOs increase efficiency, while keeping user expectations in check.
IT and Marketing are two important components of a successful organization. However, they are often at odds with how they collect and apply customer data and streamline processes.
As Vijay Chittoor, CEO and co-founder of Blueshift explains, “Today’s customer is perpetually connected, and the customer journey is more fragmented across many channels. This requires marketing to be agile, with the ability to respond to customer needs in the moment, on the right channel. The traditional model of IT deployments is designed for collecting and storing information for later analysis, not agile real-time interaction.”
Because IT and marketing are accustomed to using data in different ways, they run the risk of providing substandard support to one another. According to a survey conducted by Blueshift and Techvalidate, 92 percent of marketers are struggling with accessing, unifying or analyzing their data. This insufficient access to data can upset processes, and becomes a roadblock to company growth. As Dan Steiner, CMO at Elite Legal Marketing, writes, “CIOs are critical in the mission to empower marketers with access to this data, and as such, marketing and IT collaboration is more important than ever before.”
Live chat gives IT and marketers the opportunity to collect customer data that would not have been accessible via traditional channels. Visitor information and behavior data can be collected through multiple means such as custom variables, CRM integrations, and real-time visitor monitoring. The data collected within live chat can be accessed by both IT and marketers, giving them equal access to information.
Visitors who chat with live chat agents may be prompted to enter their email address before the chat session or to log in with their social media account before being transferred to a representative. This data is useful to marketers and can be put towards lead generation and lead nurturing efforts. Also, live chat software stores valuable user information, such as where in the world the user is accessing your website from, how long they have been on a single webpage, how they found your website, and more. Coupled with the data from CRM systems, this can be used to create a complete image of your customers and their interests, helping inform marketing efforts in the future.
Today’s CIOs have yet another expectation on their shoulders: organizations want them to use their knowledge of available and emerging technologies to proactively spot opportunities for differentiation.
Live chat provides an opportunity for businesses to sweep sales away from the competition, both through proactive live chat, as well as by providing superior, more attentive customer service.
With proactive live chat, organizations can preemptively message website visitors while they are online. Proactive chat can be triggered manually by live chat agents or via an automatic invitation engine based on pre-defined rules. By automating live chat requests, companies can get a leg up on the competition, securing purchases before visitors deflect to another website.
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Live chat helps differentiate companies through a service lens, too. While customers are stuck waiting in a competitor’s phone or email queues, live chat helps companies answer visitor questions and convert sales in real-time. When it comes to taking down the competition, this technological initiative looks attractive to an executive board or senior leadership committee.
Ninety-five percent of CIOs consistently expect cyber-threats to rise and affect their organization. To protect against these threats, any digital transformation efforts must adhere to strict security standards.
Distinguished live chat software has rigorous security and privacy standards. These providers must meet the necessary protocols to serve every industry, including industries with the highest security compliances such as government agencies, financial institutions, and healthcare organizations.
Comm100, for example, is ISO 27001 certified, making us one of the most security compliant live chat providers in the industry. This accreditation shows that Comm100’s Information Security Management System (ISMS) complies with an internationally recognized set of policies, controls, and practices in information security. This covers several areas, including our hardware, our software, our people, and our processes.
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Comm100 also uses PCI compliance measures, password policy, Visitor SSO, data backup policy, world-class data center, and more to protect accounts and data from unauthorized access or attack. Our live chat solution mitigates cyber-threats so that your CIO doesn’t have to.
As Marc Wilczek writes, “…success in the digital era will not only depend upon how smart services have been designed, but, even more importantly, on how seamlessly they integrate into the existing landscape.”
Unlike other digital transformation initiatives, live chat integrates with existing CRM and marketing software. These integrations make it easier than ever for organizations to take on live chat.
For example, Comm100 has a wide range of integrations and plugins intended to make live chat work with existing systems and enhance organizations’ live chat capabilities. Visitor information can automatically or manually be sent to CRMs such as Salesforce to create or update new leads, keeping teams up to date with every interaction across channels. It can also integrate with help desk software, contact center software, Google Analytics, e-commerce systems, content management systems (CNS), social media, APIs and webhooks, and more.
These and other integrations make it easier for CIOs to focus on growth and innovation while counting on contacts, metrics, and more all in one place.
A few years back, thought leaders were publishing articles speculating the end of the CIO position. Companies, these articles argued, could now implement their own technology thanks to the cloud, and as a result, the “demise” of the role of CIO must be imminent.
These predictions, of course, turned out to be false. Rather than replacing the CIO, the cloud ended up making the lives of CIOs easier, freeing up both them and their IT teams to attend to higher-value initiatives.
Like other software before it, live chat is available for implementation via the cloud. That means that live chat can be up and running in minutes, and IT teams get to enjoy the benefit of automatic updates. As Forbes contributor, Rob Preston, writes, “Vendor-managed cloud computing services are starting to free IT teams from the mind-numbing routines of system maintenance, repairs, patching, and upgrades.”
Cloud availability also means that CIOs get an escape from the typical 80/20 spending trap. The idea behind this concept is that over the years, 80 percent of the CIO budget has gone to maintenance and only 20 percent has been used on innovation projects. Fortunately, as Preston remarks, digital technology that is available via the cloud “offloads much of the maintenance/support heavy lifting to service providers that are better equipped to manage those tech workloads, freeing IT organizations to focus on creating digital innovations that truly deliver a competitive advantage.”
If the cloud doesn’t fit your company’s specific business or security needs, don’t worry. Many live chat providers also offer other deployment options such as private servers or even on-premises deployment for high-volume websites, meaning that implementation can be adapted to each unique use case.
Live chat providers such as Comm100 make live chat very simple to set up, and can be up and running on a company’s website in a matter of minutes. With Comm100, setting up live chat is as easy as copying an HTML code and dropping it into your organization’s website.
Live chat can be customized to the specific feature requirements of each organization. Comm100 offers multiple customization options that allow companies to create a live chat aesthetic that fits in with their current branding. Live chat can also be customized for mobile devices, allowing for a comprehensive, functional mobile view.
When issues do come up with live chat, ample reporting and history logging makes it easy to troubleshoot. Community forums, self-help articles, 24-hour customer service, and more are all available as additional resources to help resolve any issues. In community forums, CIOs, IT professionals, and other team members that use live chat can suggest improvements, which will be addressed by Comm100’s own development team. In this way, live chat is not just a software solution – it is a digital initiative that will grow with your CIO and your company.
As Marc Wilczek writes: “The key to success in the digital era will be the ability to meet changing customer requirements and strategically leverage technology to support new business models and manifest sustainable competitive advantage.”
Live chat offers a connection strategy that customers want, expect, and are familiar with. It is easy to implement and offers a competitive advantage thanks to features such as proactive chat and due to its customer service advantages.
With live chat, your CIO will be able to achieve his or her goals for growth, digital business, differentiation, efficiency, and more. By taking on live chat as a digital initiative, your CIO will be able to meet both departmental and executive goals, proving that he or she is a qualified strategic advisor and demonstrating his or her value and expertise within the organization.
For more reading, check out our blog post, What’s the Catch? — 11 Hidden Pitfalls of Your Favorite Customer Engagement Tools.
What is your CIO’s favorite thing about live chat? Let us know in the comments below!
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