IndustryView | 2015 |
Regardless of industry, great customer service usually revolves around one common theme: reducing the effort customers expend in order to get their questions answered and problems solved.
The most effective customer service is designed to reduce effort at all stages of the customer journey—not just after a sale or when problems arise. To provide this kind of service, however, companies must not only understand the questions customers have at each stage, but be there to offer answers.
Online live chat is proving to be one of the best service channels for meeting customers’ needs throughout their journey, from first contact through post-sale support. As an online tool, it meets customers in the very place they increasingly turn for answers: the Internet. And unlike other channels such as email, live chat provides instant support, with minimal customer effort required.
Before making a choice, businesses deciding to implement a new customer service channel must consider a wide variety of factors. Drawing upon data from a recent Software Advice survey on customer preferences as well as discussions with companies that currently offer live chat as a customer service channel, this report examines those considerations required for the implementation of online live chat. This examination will help businesses make more informed decisions about implementing live chat.
Making the decision to offer live chat does require effort on behalf of a business. Like implementing a new customer service platform, opening a new service channel requires significant investments of time and money; the return on which can be difficult to predict.
Businesses Say Live Chat Implementation Is Quick and Painless
Selecting a software platform for customer service and support can be a daunting challenge for many businesses. After a system is chosen and implemented, many businesses are motivated to continue using it regardless of the challenges they encounter, largely to avoid the need to transition to a new system.
Live chat, on the other hand, is usually provided as an add-on service that can be integrated with a company’s existing customer relationship management (CRM) platform or Web portal. And, according to the businesses we spoke with, getting live chat up and running is a generally painless procedure; none described any difficulty with this software implementation.
A majority of U.S. adults surveyed have used live chat at least once—and many express a clear preference for it over more traditional customer service channels. Indeed, live chat offers benefits that other channels don’t. As an online service channel, live chat meets customers exactly where most of them seek pre-sales product information and post-sales support. Because of this, receiving support via live chat requires considerably less effort for most customers than phone or email support.
Businesses, too, are finding great value in live chat support. It lowers the barrier to first contact for prospective clients, and offers immediate support answers to existing customers. Companies with a customer base centered on the lower age-range bracket—the demographic with the strongest preference for live chat—consistently express success with their implementations. But even more noteworthy is that companies with customers in the highest age-range brackets also report success.
Together, these two sources of data present a compelling case in favor of live chat implementation. Companies on the fence about implementing live chat should consider this when making a decision.