Chat has always been right on the bubble in terms of becoming a commonly used customer service channel. But since social media and texting have made short messaging the mainstream method of communication, chat is now being adopted and deployed by more companies across more channels than ever before to improve the customer experience.
Chat allows today’s hyper-connected customers to stay online, avoid hold times and multitask while they’re seeking customer service, all keys to saving time, which is a huge consideration for today’s consumer, as recent Forrester data shows that 77% of US online adult consumers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide good service.
This is why chat makes so much sense as an online service channel used in complement with self-service and other support offerings. Not only is service via live chat fast and immediately accessible, but it’s personalized, too. In a recent Forrester report, Market Overview: Chat Solutions for Customer Service, Forrester analysts Kate Leggett and Art Schoeller offer some key reasons to view chat as a competitive customer service differentiator, including:
- Chat usage rates have risen in the past three years from 30% to 43%.
- All demographics are comfortable with the channel; even one-third of Older Boomers and the Golden Generation use chat for customer service.
- Satisfaction rates for chat are only superseded by those for voice (63% rating for chat, 69% for voice).
This high satisfaction rate is also confirmed in a recent eDigitalResearch Customer Service Benchmark report which showed live chat with the highest customer satisfaction rate (73%) of all channels, topping email, customer service apps, social media, telephone or SMS.
Here are five additional reasons why a growing number of brands are deciding it’s finally time to chat with customers:
- Cost Efficiency: Live chat is a cost-conscious choice for those organizations that want to provide more personalized service. Customers can get one-on-one assistance from a live customer service representative at their convenience, while companies save because behind the scenes, agents can handle multiple chats simultaneously. Chat is also known to increase first contact resolution rates.
- Functionality: Companies can utilize live chat in a game, on a form, in an application, as part of their knowledgebase or with an online shopping cart. It can even be deployed on a brand’s Facebook page. Many organizations are also monitoring their web analytics, deploying chat on the pages of their websites with the highest exit rates.
- Increased Sales: Chat is known to improve web conversion rates, as it keeps consumers from abandoning online shopping carts and order forms, but it is also considered a key upselling and cross-selling tool. Agents can view a customer’s purchase and service history and suggest related products and services, or upgrades.
- Dual Use: Organizations can use chat solely as a reactive channel, leaving it entirely up to the customers to click on the button for live chat assistance, or brands can use it as a proactive channel, inviting and engaging users to chat based on custom criteria such as if the customer has visited the site often in the past few days, is taking a long time on the checkout page or form, etc.
- Popularity: Forrester data shows that Generations Z and X have higher satisfaction chatting with a live agent rather than speaking on the telephone with a live agent, as talking by typing is the preferred method of communication for the greater part of the younger audience.
Chat as a primary customer service channel has come of age. Watch for it to have an increasingly prominent role as a preferred method as consumers become increasingly connected and turn to chat to receive prompt, personalized service.