Live Chat Benchmark Report 2019

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Live Chat Benchmark Report 2019

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Conclusion

Key Take-aways

Mobile matters

In 2018, mobile chats increased by 7.9% and now account for more than half of all chats for the first time since we began publishing benchmark data. The number of chats originating from a mobile device increased across almost all industries, with the exception of Transportation. The shift to mobile chat follows the global shift to mobile in general. Customers want to connect with you in real-time, when and where they need it, and mobile chat fits the bill. Based on our data, mobile chat continues to be an important part of a good live chat strategy, regardless of company size or industry.

Smart staffing and proper system configuration are key to a successful live chat strategy

Our data reveals that teams with over 50 agents earn the highest satisfaction rate and boast the shortest wait time, while teams with 11 to 50 agents have longer wait times and a customer satisfaction score of about 3 points less. But wait time on its own does not dictate customer satisfaction, as we would expect. That is more complicated.

The smallest teams are in a predictable situation: short on staff, likely struggling to attract top talent, and often requiring employees to play multiple roles alongside customer support. Their systems and processes are typically less mature, which is fine as long as their customer base stays small. The largest teams in contrast are on the opposite side of all these challenges – they can pay more, they can create more tightly defined roles, and have more mature systems and processes that let them handle higher volumes with ease.

Our agents loved it when we added live chat to our service model. They found it so easy to build personal rapport, and so much more scalable than phone and email. It helped that we put energy into training – like any technology, you get out what you put in. We were able to make live chat a core part of our culture because we worked on getting buy-in across the board, from management and the CSR team.

Holly Langenfelder
Customer Service,, National Accounts Dixon Valve

Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity

It’s the middle pack where things start to get interesting – more customers and larger teams introduce the need for better planning and management, and more sophisticated processes and systems. These are classic growing pains, and the pains are real as evidenced by increases in chat volume and declines in customer satisfaction. It seems Comm100 customers in this band first try to shorten chat length to increase capacity and cut down on wait times, but the effect on customers isn’t positive. So a new strategy is required, one that combines tools like chatbots, routing and queue management, co-browsing, and perhaps revisiting agent training.

No matter the chat volume or team size, our data shows that finding the right ratio of agents to chats by staffing wisely and deploying the right live chat capabilities are invaluable for a successful live chat strategy.

There are many factors that contribute to CSAT. Organizations need to strike a balance between competing requirements to make sure they are doing right by their customers at an acceptable cost.

Together, statistics like wait time, chat volume and length, and satisfaction score paint an interesting picture of contact center maturity, showing the pains that come with nurturing a contact center into a mature operation that balances quality and productivity. How can contact centers cushion themselves through growth to achieve positive customer outcomes? Enable your agents through effective training and quality processes and take advantage of tech and automation solutions to ensure that you’re giving your agents maximum ability to be productive and efficient.

Kaye Chapman
Learning & Development Manager, Comm100

Looking Forward

Seek balance between agent productivity and customer delight

Our findings show that after a three-year slump, organizations are upping their customer experience game to meet sky-high customer expectations. Meaningful, personalized interactions are taking precedent, signalled by the downward trend of canned message use.

There is still room for improvement given chat’s accessibility, flexibility, and personalized service model. Co-browsing has proven to take the load off of agents while still being a popular tool with customers, evidenced by short sessions and high customer satisfaction.

Optimize your customer experience strategy to take full advantage of all of live chat’s capabilities. You’ll deliver better service to your customers and equip your agents with the tools they need to offer above and beyond experiences without breaking the bank.

Mobile means more channels

More and more customers are making the shift to mobile and while organizations may think channel and device, customers don’t. They need to step up their customer experience game and create seamless, consistent, omnichannel experiences that support all the channels powered by mobile. Similarly, organizations need to optimize their mobile chat experience for a truly successful live chat strategy, or risk compromising service for over half of their customers.

Comm100 rolled out SMS support in early 2019, and we’re planning to add support for more channels throughout the year. Based on the growth of mobile in general we expect to see quick and consistent adoption. Come back next year to see if that happens!

AI and humans working better together

While some prognosticators may be claiming that 2019 will be the “year of bot backlash”, we here at Comm100 predict otherwise. Bots’ reputation to date stems mainly from poor design and lack of intelligent escalation to human agents, not because the technology doesn’t work or because consumers don’t want to use them. To the contrary – there are lots of statistics that point to the growing acceptance of bots by consumers, such as this one: 78% percent of Benchmark Report 2019 30 consumers are comfortable with a human being not being involved when interacting with a company under a variety of circumstances (Interactions study, December 2018). Or this one: 58% percent of respondents said they would use AI if it helps them save time by taking over some tasks (Gartner Consumer AI Perceptions Study, 2018).

All things being equal, bots still need humans behind them for the sake of the customer. When done right they can actually enhance the human agent experience by fielding boring, repetitive questions and leaving the agent to handle the more complex queries.

Organizations need to strike a balance between bots and humans by properly defining bot scope and clearly communicating its capabilities to their customers. Scoping bots correctly and implementing an escalation process that provides a positive customer experience will help organizations avoid the “backlash” while maximizing chatbot ROI, a win-win for everybody.

Bots simply hold too much promise to be ignored. But like any technology, they’re not magic bullets, and you get out what you put in. Focus your bot on a specific use case, train it with the knowledge you already have, and keep watch over it. Above all else, make it easy for your customers to be transferred – proactively or reactively depending on the situation – to a human agent.

Jeff Epstein
VP Product Marketing and Communications, Comm100

In the same way that bots need humans behind them, we believe that humans need artificial intelligence behind them as well. We’ve found that human agents can engage customers more effectively when they’ve been coached by algorithms trained on large volumes of chats and when they’re offered up real-time recommendations about what to say and when. The agents improve their performance and the artificial intelligence gets smarter with each interaction so it’s a win-win.

Michael Housman
Chief Data Science Officer, RapportBoost.AI

Data and Methodology

Comm100 researchers gathered live chat data for this report from January 1st, 2018 to December 31st, 2018.

The sample size includes 45,763,525 chat interactions from organizations all over the world representing 14 industries using live chat for customer service, support, sales, and marketing. Only customers with established, ongoing live chat accounts were included. Trial and free accounts were excluded from our analysis.

In 2018 Comm100 also saw a 50% growth in new accounts. The growth enabled us to pull more granular data and look at the numbers by team size. As continuous growth occurred throughout the year, averages were calculated to exclude months before an organization was fully ramped up with Comm100.

These criteria are in alignment with past Live Chat Benchmark Reports from 2016, 2017, and 2018 to allow for an accurate year-over-year comparison. This year due to GDPR changes, we’ve changed our data collection and analyses processes to align with these new security policies and requirements.

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