As today’s consumer continues to increase their Internet usage for the common things of everyday life, more companies are faced with answering this question – Should we offer live chat as an option for our customers?
According to a 2013 industry report, 83% of the more than 5,000 consumers surveyed stated they consistently require some form of assistance while online. Combine this statistic with the 71% of those same consumers who feel it’s important to receive assistance within 5 minutes, with 48% stating they will abandon the site if that requirement goes unmet.
These two statistics alone should lead one to consider options for meeting the needs of the online customer. Numerous companies and organizations have turned to live chat as the channel to address their customers’ request for fast online service. Before implementing live chat as a solution, it may be prudent to develop a channel strategy and set goals to insure optimum performance.
Developing a Strategy
Creating a live chat strategy is critical for obtaining maximum results and justifying implementation costs. As the earlier statistics indicate, the customer’s requirement for a fast online experience is the main priority. Develop a strategy that’s very specific in nature. When several Comm100 Live Chat users developed live chat strategies, common areas of focus were:
- Reducing response time – enabling customers to quickly interact with employees via live chat vs encountering wait times when using more traditional methods of communication such as email or the telephone.
- Customer satisfaction – delivering online customer service to ensure satisfaction ratings remain high.
By establishing areas of focus, one can take the appropriate steps for creating a robust live chat channel. When considering live chat as an additional customer contact option, it might be prudent to address the following in the strategy development phase:
- Will customer satisfaction rates improve as a result of deploying live chat?Analyze current and historical data to identify satisfaction levels across your entire customer base. If your company offers multiple products and/or services, get satisfaction data for each of those offerings. It’s probably a good idea to extract data for the various departments within your organization as well. All of this data mining will assist in identifying areas that may benefit most from implementing a live chat solution.
- Are sales likely to improve as a result of deploying live chat at specific dropout points on the company Website? Again, utilize current data to identify where in the customer’s online experience do they decide to abandon you website. Is it on particular website pages? Perhaps it’s after placing items in the shopping cart, yet before completing the order. Current data will assist in determining where customers may need additional assistance during site visits.
- Are sales likely to improve if agents engage with specific customer segments? During your data analysis, it may become clear that certain customers may require more attention. Hopefully, your current data will assist in identifying which customer segment(s) contact your company the most via current channels – phone, email, text, etc. Will the addition of live chat provide opportunities for improving retention rates along with increasing sales through live chat agents’ ability to quickly identify the availability of upgrades or new products that may enhance the customer’s experience with your company’s products or services?
- What live chat platform will we utilize? After deciding that yes, live chat is a viable option, this is perhaps the most important decision in the strategy development phase. The success of your live chat channel hinges on choosing the right platform. A platform failure can certainly impact customer satisfaction ratings and as well as strike a blow to your company’s credibility.
Discuss which platform type – company hosted or cloud based – is the proper one for your company. In addition, determine if a proactive or reactive live chat platform will best fit the needs of your particular customers. Will passive assist or active assist be supported? What data security features are available? Does the platform provide reporting capabilities for transaction history, chat transcripts and metrics? How does the customer interact via your chosen platform? Are encryption, typing notification and the ability to change font sizes available to the customer? Will the platform allow for pushing customer satisfaction surveys at the end of the live chat? Your data analysis should help in deciding which platform and features meet the criteria for providing the best possible customer experience while positively contributing to the achievement of channel goals.
- Will live chat complement existing self – service options?The purpose of most websites is to allow the customer the option to self-serve versus utilizing the more traditional methods of customer contact. When developing a live chat strategy, companies should strive to enhance the self-service experience. Data analysis should identify opportunities – at website dropout points, sales trigger points or where known website issues exist – for agents to proactively initiate a live chat conversation. If agents initiate the conversation too early in the site visit, this may result in the customer feeling pressured or becoming agitated when attempting to self – serve. The goal of the live chat option is to enhance the self-serve experience – not to replace it.
- What metrics are key to determining the effectiveness of your live chat program?When implementing any new tool into a company’s daily operations, identifying key metrics for gauging effectiveness is certainly in order. It’s no different with live chat. Here are a few metrics to consider:
- Cost per contact
- First contact resolution
- Shopping cart abandonment rate
- Average order value
- Customer satisfaction rate
- Escalation rate
These metrics allow companies to compare the effectiveness of its live chat program to other customer communication channels.
Ready, Set, Chat!
After thoroughly considering and answering these questions, companies should be able to develop their live chat channel to meet the needs of their customers. Here at Comm100, we believe that it’s important for companies to provide an efficient and effective customer communication option. Our live chat product offers a comprehensive solution for companies seeking to improve sales and or retention rates through allowing agents to proactively engage with customers.
As statistics indicate, today’s customer wants a quick and efficient customer experience. While saying “Yes!” to the live chat option, companies should first take the time to develop strategies and goals to insure both maximum ROI and HLC – that’s Happy Loyal Customers!