What you didn’t know about online chat?
June 11, 2014
As consumers migrate online to manage their business transactions and decisions, the influence of online chat on the customer experience will continue to increase. A recent report states that one-fifth of both Gen Y (ages 18-27) and Gen X (ages 28-40) consumers located and engaged in online chat when they visited a company’s website. Comparatively, just one-tenth of boomers and seniors take advantage of chat. (1) As boomers and seniors move closer to retirement, their financial influence in the global marketplace will be replaced by Gen Y and X.
The sales metrics linked to online chat implementation also reflect its growing importance. According to a number of industry reports released recently:
– 77 percent of chat users agree the new interaction method positively influences their attitude about the retailer they were considering buying from; (3)
– 63 percent of respondents reported they were more likely to return to a website after experiencing live chat; (4) and
Proactive vs. Reactive Chat
Online chat can be deployed in different ways. Some platforms are designed to be reactive. They require the user to actively click a button on the host’s website to “chat with us.” Other vendors favor a proactive approach. Instead of waiting for a potential customer to click the button, they invite website visitors to engage with an agent. This invitation, generally in the form of a pop-up window, is triggered by a variety of pre-determined criteria, ranging from abandoned shopping carts, a set of page views, or the appearance of high-value customers.
The popularity of online chat among customers has led to significant ROI, which varies depending on how actively chat is deployed. Proactive chat produces more striking results. In one study, reactive chat earned a 15 percent return on investment, compared to proactive chat’s impressive 105 percent. (6)
Benefits of Online Chat
Online chat delivers rapid, personalized and timely communications through direct interaction, resulting in a wide range of benefits:
– Chat shortens the sales process by creating additional positive impressions that move a prospect quickly and efficiently through the sales cycle while resolving customer issues and objections immediately.
– Chat reduces overall contact center costs by reducing average interaction costs, while allowing customers to quickly and easily access additional information online. This leads to happier, more satisfied customers and fewer future calls.
– Chat helps close sales by allowing agents to recover customers before they abandon a transaction and assist them with the completion of order forms.
– Chat allows for increased transaction values by creating up-sell and cross-sell opportunities.
– Chat agents can multi-task. Well-trained and well-equipped agents can handle multiple chats simultaneously due to the time it takes customers to type in their questions or view information – all without sacrificing customer experience.
Surprisingly, Still a Limited Channel
Despite these benefits and the general appetite for online chat among the public, online sales chat is often unavailable. When it is offered, the customer experience can be improved. While there have been significant developments to the software and online platforms, technical aspects of the chat channel often overshadow the importance of the human aspects of the customer service engagement. Correctly implemented, chat can re-introduce the “human element” into the online interaction to significantly enhance the quality of the total customer experience.
(1) Forrester Research – Best Practices: Implementing Online Chat, page 3 (2009)
(2) Bold Software Survey (2010)
(3) Bold Software Survey (2010)
(4) e.Marketer.com Survey (2009)
(5) e.Marketer.com Survey (2009)
(6) Forrester Research – The ROI of Interactive Chat, page 1 (2008)
Everest Group conducted a study with the purpose of assessing the business impacts of contact center attrition by using a methodology which breaks down the impact of attrition to the level of the individual contact center customer service representative, showing how the departure of a given individual generates a series of cost and revenue associated outcomes.