by Jim Iyoob | published on 12-21-2016
In an age where it’s easier than ever for customers to find the information they need without interacting with another human being. FAQs, automated messages, phone calls and emails are all great ways to connect with customers, but they aren’t without their pitfalls. No matter your business, industry, product or service, you and your customers are sure to benefit from live chat customer service. Learn 10 reasons in particular why this solution makes for a solid investment in your customers and your business.
1. Customers Find Live Chat to Be 100 Percent Convenient
The modern-day consumer is all about convenience. While it’s easy to fire off a quick email to customer service inquiring about the availability of a product, it might take a few minutes to receive a response, and it could take even longer to receive an answer to a follow-up question. Many younger shoppers would rather not have a phone conversation, which can involve listening to a number of menu options, being transferred from one representative to another and accidental hangups or disconnections.
Live chat brings together the immediacy of a phone call with the convenience of email, giving customers a chance to look over their question to make sure they’ve included all necessary information before sending it off. Something else to think about with live chat is that it’s easier to look back and forth between a chat window and the online page the customer is asking about, making it simpler for the live chat representative to see what the customer sees and vice versa. It’s hard to get much more convenient than this.
2. Live Chat Both Saves and Makes a Company Money
With live chat, companies can save just as much extra money as they make with the new technology. Live chat saves money by reducing the amount of time employees spend on customer service-related tasks. And because there’s no need for a phone, business owners don’t have to worry about the costs that come with phone operation. Another cost-saving fact of live chat is that customer service employees can easily handle multiple conversations, which isn’t true of traditional phone calls. What this means is that it’s not necessary to have as many employees working to take care of a customer service department’s usual load of customers.
In terms of making money, customers tend to be more satisfied with the results of live chat, which is likely to result in them buying more products or services from a specific company. The immediacy of live chat provides shoppers with instant answers, which increases the chances of the shopper buying the items in her or his online shopping cart. Even better is the fact that live chat offers representatives several opportunities to upsell products customers may find beneficial or complementary to the products they’ve already planned on buying.
3. Customers Know How It Works
Few things are more annoying than needing help before you can ask for help. Live chat has the benefit that it’s technology that’s familiar to anyone who’s ever sent a text message or an instant message. The communication style is familiar, which goes a long way in putting customers at ease. Going back to a fact mentioned earlier, younger consumers are less likely to want to make a phone call or leave a voicemail, which means they might not be comfortable calling a customer service agent. While there many not seem to be anything complicated about speaking into a phone receiver, it all goes back to making the customer comfortable and providing him or her with preferred options, which in turn goes back to live chat consumer preference.
Not only is it the younger generation that prefers text or instant messaging, but studies show the same is true of individuals in their 50s. One of the biggest reasons for this is that live chat eliminates the hold times that are common for traditional phone calls. Instant messaging and text messaging have been around long enough that even individuals in the Baby Boomer generation are sure to find both mediums at least somewhat familiar.
4. The Competition May Not Offer Live Chat
Small business owners might find live chat to be especially useful, mainly because it can be a powerful tool that puts them on even ground with some of their larger competitors. Research suggests that some of the largest and most well-known retail businesses fail to offer their customers live chat, putting them at a disadvantage. Live chat represents not only convenience, but also forward-thinking. Consumers like to see businesses that pay close attention to trends and the features modern shoppers desire.
Business owners who are aware of the needs and wants of today’s customer may also realize how many of those customers shop either exclusively or mostly online. Just as live chat is convenient, it’s also sometimes equally convenient to shop online rather than drive out to a brick-and-mortar store. It’s quite possible that a business may lose out on a sale (or several sales) because it doesn’t provide live chat, which can drive shoppers into the arms and shopping carts of competitors who make themselves easily accessible while customers shop for products or services online.
5. It’s Quick
We live in a fast-paced world where people are used to getting what they need and want as quickly as possible, and customer service is certainly no exception. Just like we’re used to receiving instant responses to text messages, the same is true of live chat. In fact, some online retail sites provide shoppers and browsers the option of speaking with a live chat customer representative the moment they open the site, letting them know how quickly they can get answers and information.
By contrast, phone calls can result in hold times, and even a short hold time can be enough to rub a caller the wrong way. Studies have shown that consumers who use live chat can speak with a representative in roughly 25 seconds after initiating a chat, all without having to listen to a number of menu options and be passed around to several departments.
Something else to bear in mind with the speed of live chat is the fact that mobile computing can make it cumbersome for users to navigate back and forth from a phone call to a mobile site. Live chat makes the conversation and the experience seamless and efficient for everyone.
6. Uncover Points of Improvement and Customer Concerns
Another of the key benefits of live chat is it makes for a prime opportunity to discover, make note of and resolve points of improvements for a company as well as customer concerns. Something business owners should remember is that customers don’t always voice their frustrations with a company or its practices, but sometimes those gripes reveal themselves in business interactions. For instance, a live chat conversation could reveal a grievance that not just one, but many customers have with a particular product or service. This gives the business the opportunity to improve on its wares as well as its business approach for the future.
Even if the customer doesn’t have a complaint, he or she could have a great business idea the company can put to good use. Such ideas might not be uncovered if a consumer is frustrated with being put on hold or waiting for a reply to an email. Any suggestions or recommendations a customer makes are easily archived for further consideration. While phone conversations are easily recorded, they could be difficult to understand. Live chat leaves very little room for doubt or misinterpretation.
7. More Comfortable Than Automated Customer Assistance Services
While technology has given customers more autonomy than ever, there’s still a strong need for human-to-human interaction. Live chat allows shoppers to feel as if they’re at the customer assistance desk at a brick-and-mortar store while shopping online, which can prove instrumental in improving a company’s reputation as well as its customer satisfaction rating. Research has shown that more than 80 percent of consumers require support as they shop and browse the sites of online retailers.
Businesses that cater to sensitive, private, legal or financial matters should especially consider offering live chat on their sites. The reason for this is visitors and customers may not be comfortable using an automated service, or they may feel the automated service doesn’t provide them with the level of support they need to fully address their question or concern. When customers feel they aren’t being taken care of, or if they aren’t able to find the answers they need in a timely manner, they’re likely to take their questions, concerns and business elsewhere. Live chat effectiveness reveals itself in nearly every aspect of business.
8. There’s a Sense of Privacy
Our fast-paced, on-the-go lifestyle means that many individuals double up on tasks, such as looking for an anniversary, birthday or graduation gift while at work, in a cab or at the movies waiting for the feature presentation to start. What this all boils down to is that browsers and shoppers may not have the privacy they need to make a phone call, making live chat a great alternative to avoid disrupting others around them or potentially ruining a surprise. What’s more is private financial or personal information may need to be exchanged during the correspondence, and consumers may feel more comfortable typing that information out rather than speaking it out loud where others can hear.
Looking at this from a business perspective, the customer service agent might have a string of information to share with the customer. Rather than scrambling for a pen or pencil and something to write on, the individual can instead either archive the live chat or take a screenshot with her or his phone in order that she or he can easily refer back to it later. A single phone is much easier to keep up with than a loose scrap of paper, a scrap of paper that might have sensitive or private information on it.
9. Live Chat Makes Analytics More Effective
Retailers now have access to information that gives them deeper insight into how consumers use their websites. Specifically, they can see where shoppers fill up their carts but abandon them before getting to the checkout page. One reason for cart abandonment could be that customers have a question but are confused about something. While the individual may be willing to do some digging to find an answer or to alleviate her or his confusion, sheer frustration may cause the individual to go elsewhere.
The glory of live chat is that it makes it simple for shoppers to get in touch with someone who can answer their questions, which can decrease cart abandonment while providing retailers with insight on what they can do to make their site and customer shopping experience better.
While analytics can make for a great way to improve sales through live chat and gather information on shoppers, it’s actually chatting with those customers that truly puts that data to good use. Now retailers have a better idea of exactly what they need to do to please their target audience, which is better than going through an unnecessary period of trial and error.
10. It’s a Great Way to Broadcast Sales and Incentives
Live chat also makes for a great way to inform shoppers of special sales and incentives. This approach works best when targeted for a specific shopper. For instance, customers who show an interest in books could be interested in learning about a discount or upcoming sale on e-readers. While displaying this ad to all site visitors may make sense, some of them may feel as if they’re being bombarded with yet another barrage of ads, which could lead to them clicking the back button. A little thoughtfulness and strategy most certainly go a long way when it comes to customer satisfaction.
Live chat is a sprawling tree that has a number of different branches. Business owners who properly cultivate their live chat tree are sure to find themselves with a healthy business that offers plenty of shelter from the storm.