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Beyond Chat

Going Beyond Chat

The modern association with online customer service often revolves around an experience with live chat. While it’s certainly not the only channel that customers make use of, as email and social media are still popular options for customers looking for a response, live chat is the ideal option for getting an immediate response.

Live Chat and Why People Like it

Though a potential staffing challenge for businesses, live chat is incredibly convenient for customers. It provides a person with instant access to assistance online. Wait times are often shorter than a call support center and customers are free to multitask while participating in a live chat.

Because of these benefits, 42% of consumers say that live chat is their preferred support method. Similarly, 63% of consumers said that they were most likely to return to a website that offered live chat.

Live chat helps companies cut down costs on their customer service expenses. Unlike voice calls, which require at least one dedicated customer service representative per customer call, live chat operators can answer multiple customer chats at once without sacrificing the quality of their interactions. It’s easy to see that this could be a cost saver, especially due to live chat’s role in advancing the customer buying journey. The numbers don’t lie – 38% of customers say that they made a purchase as a result of a live chat session.

Unfortunately, not all companies offer a live chat option. If your company does offer live chat, you’ve got a distinct edge over competitors who are still behind the times. Besides acting as a way to increase sales, live chat also provides insights into customer sentiment, which you can use to improve your overall customer experience.

Despite all the advantages of live chat, it’s not without it’s own set of issues.

The Case Against Live Chat

Although live chat may seem intuitive to the companies making use of the tool, not every website visitor likes or knows how to utilize it. People ages 50 and over have grown accustomed to and tend to prefer receiving customer support over the phone. If your website is directed towards an older audience, then a live chat solution might not be beneficial for your company.

Another downside to the live chat option is that people can use it to berate or harass a company’s employees who are simply doing their job. In addition, people tend to think that the live chat is controlled by bots, and use it as a form of entertainment instead of a resource for serious inquiries. In order to reduce these types of abuse, a company could make a mandatory field to input a valid email address or install a ‘block function’.

Regardless of how many employees a company can devote to live chat, agents frequently have multiple messages coming in at the same time and need to respond to all of them in a timely manner. Responding to a message in a timely manner is important because live chat implies that the customer will receive a response to their question in real time (unlike email support). Agents with multiple chats going on at once could feel like they have more going on than they can handle, and as such, the timing/quality of response may suffer.

Going Beyond Chat

Live chat may be one of the more cost-efficient solutions for providing customer service on your website,  but there are still more effective ways to achieve a higher ROI when it comes to providing a great customer experience, like audio and video chats.

According to research conducted by SaleMove, when live chat had an audio component, a 28% lift in conversion was measured than with chat alone. Similarly, when live chat had a video component, a 56% higher lift was measured than with chat alone.

Case and point? Baublebar.com, an online fashion jewelry company that offers styling services via Skype video chats. Nina Alexander-Hurst, director of Baublebar’s customer experience team, said that video chat has helped to sell their products because it allowed the user to see the merchandise at scale: how long the necklace, how heavy the bracelet, and so on. Being able to ask questions and discuss the product made the customer feel like they were shopping with a friend, adding to the whole shopping experience, and enticing them to make a purchase.

Live chat can also be paired with audio, video or CoBrowsing, enhancing the online shopping experience further.  When live chat and CoBrowsing were combined, the lift in conversion was 69% greater than chat alone, for audio and CoBrowsing, the lift was 78% higher, and for video and CoBrowsing, the lift was 138% higher than chat alone.

Live Chat & CoBrowsing

The live chat tool makes for an easier online shopping experience, however, there are still ways to make this function better for communication and customer service. Instead of focusing on just audio or video, the option to CoBrowse with a potential customer allows for a smoother customer service experience, and ultimately guide that person towards completing a purchase.

CoBrowsing technology allows the customer support agent to connect to the customer’s browser window, see the webpage and their cursor, and interact with the page in real time. This customer service method is better than voice calls alone, because instead of walking the customer through an issue fix over the phone, which could lead to miscommunications, they can resolve an issue together.

With CoBrowsing, the agent can demonstrate a product to the customer by highlighting or annotating the page as they go along, making it easy for the customer to follow along, as well as get answers to any questions they might have. This is decidedly different from screen sharing or shared browsing (where the customer service agent has access to the customer’s tabs, pages and applications), and is more private.

Another advantage of CoBrowsing is that the customer does not have to download or install any specific application. Also, the customer’s privacy is protected, as the agents only have access to that one page, instead of their whole screen. A top-10 global insurer that implemented live chat and CoBrowsing saw a 300% improvement in its online chat-to-bind conversion rate.

Going Beyond Chat

Live chat is a promising solution for providing an excellent online customer experience, but it’s not without it’s flaws. Although time and technological improvements should help live chat improve, in some ways, it’s fundamentally flawed in terms of the approach it takes to communication. As such, companies looking to provide a customer service experience that results in a higher ROI should consider adding elements such as audio, video or CoBrowsing, to their live chat experience.

If you’re curious to see how CoBrowsing could work for your company, request a free demo of Salemove’s CoBrowsing tool.

Maddy Osman creates engaging content with SEO best practices for marketing thought leaders and agencies that have their hands full with clients and projects. Read her latest articles on Twitter: @MaddyOsman.