How To Start & Grow Your Business

Live Chat as a Serious Contender

Ross Dudley
Jan 12th, 2015
  • Estimated reading time: 4 min read
  • Hummy's

    1Real-time service goes a long way. 2Use automated responses cautiously. 3Empower your staff.
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Customer Service

Diverse business people working in support center Photo Credit: Andrey_Popov Shutterstock

With services going ever more digital, live chat is increasingly seen as the most effective channel for responding to customer queries, but is still only an emerging capability for most organisations.

Originally seen as a cost-effective replacement to voice channels, live chat is attractive as it can be discretely outsourced, monitored more effectively, and enables support staff to serve multiple customers simultaneously.

However, now that digital is increasingly at the heart of most service interactions, live chat is becoming more central to the service experience. It is gaining popularity due to a noticeable effect on both the customer and employee experience, beyond simply reducing operational costs.

Higher customer and employee satisfaction

Customers currently using live chat find themselves more likely to receive an immediate response, are able to multitask the conversation, and their questions are answered ‘in the moment’ without stepping away from their current activity. These reasons amongst many, have found that chat is now one of the highest rated channels for customer satisfaction*, with a third of customers expecting to be able to contact brands through live chat in the future – a figure that will only increase due to a high satisfaction with the service.

However, it’s not just customers who are feeling the effect. Team leaders responsible for live chat conversations are able to monitor and train staff through chat transcripts, key word analytics and NPS questions seeded post-conversation. While support teams experience calmer and quieter working environments, without the challenges surrounding accents and poor line quality.

Even more surprisingly, inventive staff have been adapting their own live chat service to discuss issues and solutions with multiple colleagues in real-time, acting as an on demand knowledge base for complex issues, and promoting team spirit.

New innovations in digital support

However, live chat isn’t the only digital touchpoint improving customer experience in this rapidly changing landscape. New services, such as Amazon MayDay, have seen tech support staff using new capabilities native to their product to more dynamically direct and educate their customers.

Using digital features such as screen mirroring, sketch annotations and dynamic links means support staff are able to visually show customers the problem more effectively and the steps they can take to rectify it themselves – weaning them towards self serve options and improving first contact resolution. Scott Brown, Director of Amazon Customer Service, even states their new approach has been so effective that “75% of customer contacts for Fire HDX now come via the Mayday button”.

So how do you move from good to great?

  1.  Design a flexible framework to guide the conversation. Deconstruct chat transcripts to identify common activities, behaviours and techniques that can be used to deliver a consistent and high quality chat experience. The framework can then be used to train, coach and sustain the experience overtime.
  2. Establish signature responses that create consistency. Upload pre-approved text into the system which colleagues can use to instantly respond to common issues, maintaining tone of voice and reducing chat-handling time (e.g. responding to an iPhone 6 release). Just remember, customers prefer talking to humans rather than automated responses and should therefore be used appropriately and not as a conversation filler.
  3. Find opportunities to serve the customer beyond technical support (e.g. during acquisition or account management). Go beyond technical support scenarios by proactively offering live chat at moments when the customer is most open to intervention. BT alone has recorded a 60-70% increase in cross-sell/up-sell success whilst using their live chat channel.
  4. Use real-time data to better service the customer’s needs. Collate information from the customer’s account, recent service interactions, and current browsing data, in order to help colleagues problem solve and diagnose more effectively. Use software algorithms and tracking cookies to understand where the customer has been browsing, and what their motivations might be.
  5. Go the extra mile and turn help into heroism. Where customers are engaged and satisfied with their response, make the most of the channel by linking them to digital content and follow-on information tailored to their interests (e.g. how-to videos or on-trend apps). Empower staff to deliver this digital concierge and provide a unique end to the conversation that differentiates you from similar services. Even now, Amazon May Day is supporting customers beyond technical issues to beat even the toughest challenges on Angry Birds.

    This article was written by Ross Dudley and published on Engine.

    Engine group designs great services and customer experiences.