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CCW Special Report: Live Chat

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Chapter 5

Customer-Centric Chat Considerations

When advocating for investment into live chat, thought leaders focus on its customer-centric qualities. Live Chat, they argue, directly aligns with what customers are demanding.

When actually making investments into live chat, few organizations are only thinking about customers. Many, no matter how much they publicly deny it, focus on the business benefits.

There is nothing inherently wrong with that reality: it makes the utmost of sense for profit-driven organizations to seize opportunities to increase profitability.

The reality does, however, become a problem the second organizations overlook the ramifications for customers. If live chat actually creates negative experiences for customers, the program will end up hurting profits. Poor chat experiences will require escalations, which increases cost-per-interaction. They will also contribute to customer churn, which hurts revenue.

Customer-centric organizations will avoid several key pitfalls.

Wasteful, robotic questions

Although it makes sense to leverage automation within the chat environment, it is never acceptable to subject customers to robotic, unproductive questions and comments. Customer-centric interactions, even when enhanced by technology, always some across as “natural” conversations.

In the status quo, far too many live chat agents come across as “human IVRs.” They ask unnatural qualification questions (“l see you’re asking about your cell phone payment”) to stall the customer and/or establish “generic” terms they can search in the knowledge base.

Customer-centric chat agents adhere to a simple rule: if the question would feel unnatural during a phone conversation, it is inappropriate for chat.

No customer context

Customer context is not simply valuable from an agent performance perspective. It also impacts customer perception.

When customers have to answer qualification questions to which the organization should already know the answer, they question the organization’s sense of customer centricity. They wonder if the organization cares about – or is even capable of – providing assistance.

Unproductive use of bots

Many organizations use bots to initiate chat conversations, particularly in a sales context. There is nothing wrong with the practice.

It becomes a problem, however, when the organization cannot properly support the customer. If the bot is not robust enough to handle the customer’s inquiry, it is imperative to have an agent ready to take over.

Bringing the customer to a dead-end is unacceptable in the era of omnichannel engagement.

"The seamless integration between bots and agents is a must for any great customer service interaction," declares Flynn-Ripley. "Even great chatbot interactions will need an agent in 30-40% of cases.

 Meredith Flynn-Ripley
Meredith Flynn-Ripley
VP, Digital Engagement, Salesforce

Platform constraints

In thought leader shorthand, live chat represents a contact “channel.”

In reality, it is not a channel. It is a form of communication that can take place in any number of media.

To maximize the convenience factor, customer-centric organizations offer a live chat experience in as many media as possible. Beyond offering native chat on their websites and mobile app, they also offer a chat (or chat-like) experience in social media messaging tools.

The goal is not to lure customers into their shiny new chat platform. It is to provide customers with the benefit live chat – wherever they wish to engage.

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