Customer service operators don’t exactly have an easy life.
It’s the same story: Customers call a company’s customer service line looking for answers. Instead of an answer, these customers instead face long wait times and multiple transfers to various customer service agents.
It’s no surprise that the customers can end up frustrated and ready to express their experience with others.
But if you could avoid those long wait times, solve customer problems quickly, and maximize your own efficiency, would you do it?
Simple math would indicate that the answer is an unequivocal “YES”:
- Less wait time to reach an operator + faster response time – language barrier = Happy customer
- Happy customer = Returning customer = Happy boss
- Happy boss = Happ(ier) you
The benefits of chat go far beyond customer service and set a new standard in customer expectations, experience, and relationship-building.
Fact: Customers Prefer Online Chat
Customers aren’t changing but their expectations sure are.
Instead of waiting on hold an extended period of time, answering an endless stream of prompts, or leaving an after-hours message, most customers (and companies) today instead are turning to online methods of communication. However, even social media methods and email contact have major limitations:
|Voice||There’s no way around it. Many traditional methods of connecting with companies, whether it’s staffed internally by a few people or a contracted call center, typically have long wait times. If a customer has a thick accent, it may be difficult for operators to fully understand and address the issue or questions.|
|Automatic direct messages cluttering your company’s account with spam, making it difficult to identify true customer questions sent privately to your company. Questions made publicly may require off-line answers, meaning what started on Twitter will need to be finished with a phone call or email anyway.|
|In theory, answering Facebook inquiries should be simply. However, companies may not have a dedicated team to answer questions, leaving messages unread and unanswered. And once again, customers may still be redirected to send an email for the correct team for answers.|
|Even with a dedicated system in place, it’s not unusual for emails to be inadvertently ignored or deleted depending on the volume experienced by the company.|
The answer: Online chat
According to ICMI, more than 53% of customers actually prefer to use an online chat options rather than calling in to a company for support.
In this digital age, an online chat option is becoming less of a preference and more of an expectation from customers.
Chat also has the highest satisfaction level of any customer service channel with 73% of customers satisfied by their experience.
Chat Impresses Customers & Staff
By now you know that customers prefer online chat over other methods of contacting companies – the vast majority of customers actually expect it. Even so, some companies still waver.
Every company has its own reasons not to take that first step into online chat, whether it’s a lack of awareness about customer expectations, staffing misconceptions, or misunderstandings about the online chat itself.
The good news is that online chat benefits go beyond convenience for both customer and staff alike:
- Saving your bottom(line): Let’s just start with the one your boss will care about the most. Regardless of any of these reasons, if a product were to break the budget and not guarantee higher conversion, it wouldn’t be worth it. Properly trained staff means your overhead expenses are reduced as more operators can take on multiple chat requests. The typical ROI from paid live chat software to sales teams is roughly 300%. Online chat also leads to more sales and return customers, which further helps your bottom line!
- More conversions: The American Marketing Association found in a study that live chat increases conversion rates by at least 20%! Customers who use live chat are also three times as likely to make purchases than those who don’t use chat.
- Customer convenience: Customers don’t have to grab a phone to make a call or send an email. Instead, it’s as simple as just clicking on a button to activate chat. That’s it. There’s no awkward music while waiting on hold. Even if the chat operator is unable to take the chat quickly, the customer will then be sent to an away form that can be addressed by an operator at his or her earliest convenience.
- Faster resolution: Your operators have an impressive knowledge bank of articles and help documentation to pull from, but contact over the phone in particular make it nearly impossible for this information to be passed through to customers. Chat lets operators directly send links to customers for faster resolutions.
- Leg above the competition: We’re already discussed that customers prefer online chat. If your competition has online chat and your company doesn’t, which one do you think will get more sales? Hint: Not your company.
- Language barrier: As we mention before, sometimes language barriers complicate phone interactions. Chat eliminates that barrier and allows customers and operators to speak clearly in a way each can understand.
- Direct them to the right page: Directing a customer to the right page while on the phone can be difficult. Online chat make it possible for a chat operator to digitally lead a customer to the correct page he or she was needing.
- Outreach, too: Online chat isn’t just for reactive responses. Chat can also be utilized for outreach. Chat operators can initiate chat with live visitors on the site or prompts can be setup so chat is automatically initiated for customers who linger on specific pages.
- Chat logs: Reading the history of a chat is valuable for training, quality assurance, trouble-shooting, and referencing when the customer chats again.
Of course, these are just a sampling of the benefits companies and customers see when using online chat. Share with us your experience or any benefits we missed in the comments below.
Case In Point: The Valero Alamo Bowl
For American college football fans, the Valero Alamo Bowl is nearly a household name. The annual game brings together the top teams from two of the country’s biggest conferences (PAC-12 and Big 12) and their fans for bowl supremacy each December. Thousands upon thousands of spirited football fans descend upon San Antonio, Texas, to cheer on their favorite teams.
It’s safe to say that exceptional customer service is expected through a fan’s experience, from research to ticket purchase to travelling to the game itself.
With a limited staff and budget, the solution to satisfy fans appeared to be difficult…or so they thought.
After looking at options, Lucky Orange quickly became an instant favorite. Installation was painless, and within 15 minutes, Lucky Orange had been installed, chat customized to meet the needs of the Valero Alamo Bowl, and the small team of chat operators educated in how to use it.
Lara Smedley, Senior Manager of Events and Marketing for the Valero Alamo Bowl, said that though Lucky Orange’s entire reporting was utilized by the organization, chat made the biggest impact.
“[We needed a] better understanding of our website traffic along with the flow of customers through our website,” Lara said. “The most valuable feature [of Lucky Orange] has been the Chat feature.”
On average, tens of thousands of visitors visit www.AlamoBowl.com each month even before football season kicks off. Even so, chat allowed Lara and her team to better connect with visitors to give immediate answers to questions and maximize staff efficiencies by enabling operators to manage multiple chats at any given time.
Had these chats been phone calls, a large number of volunteers and temporary employees would have been necessary to assist with the volume increase. This additional staff would require extensive training and supervision, making it difficult for other tasks to be accomplished during this time.
Lucky Orange chat, however, made it simple – even for a small staff.
Whether it was during the slow pre-season trickle to the rush of post-season inquiries, Lara and her team were equipped and ready to handle multiple chat inquiries without facing employee burnout.
The ultimate goal of the Valero Alamo Bowl (or any bowl game) is to provide an incredible experience that brings fans together to cheer on their teams, and online chat surely has helped convince new fans to join them at the big game.
Debunking Online Chat Myths
Still not convinced? Here are some of the most common myths we hear about online chats (and the truth behind the myth):
Myth #1: It costs a lot of money.
Reality: Wrong! For example, Lucky Orange starts at just $10 per month to get the entire conversion optimization package – chat included. It’s more likely that you paid more for lunch this afternoon than you would for Lucky Orange.
Myth #2: Only huge teams can benefit from it.
Reality: Online chat can be just as successful with one or two operators as it can be with hundreds. Multiple chats can be handled by a single operator, maximizing efficiency while still decreasing wait time. Of course, if your company experiences thousands upon thousands of chat requests, it may be wise to beef up the team!
Myth #3: It still takes time
Reality: Did you know that most customer problems can be resolved within one minute – 42 seconds to be exact, actually. In fact, 40% of customers say that not having to wait on hold is the No. 1 reason they prefer live chat!
Myth #4: It’s complicated.
Reality: No, it’s not. Chat systems like the one provided via Lucky Orange are meant to be simple for customers and operators to use.
Myth #5: No customizations are allowed.
Reality: What fun would that be? Of course companies can customize their chats! No two websites are exactly the same, and you can customize it just for your needs. For example, chose custom colors, find the best alignment, write your own text, and set pre-chat questions to best fit the needs of your website, customers, and company.
Myth #6: Customers don’t like it.
Reality: We’ve already proven that they LOVE it. In fact, some studies show 77% of customers simply won’t make a purchase if there’s no live chat support option at all!
How To Pick An Online Chat
We obviously would suggest starting with Lucky Orange, but as you do your research, please keep the following in mind:
- What is included in the purchase price? It always come down to that almighty dollar, whether or not your budget is tight. It’s also important to see what else comes in the package. If it’s just chat, you may be missing out on other opportunities as well. For example, while you may not need more than chat now, having the option to also access live visitor recordings or heatmaps will only help assist you in improving your customer’s experience.
- Are chat logs/transcripts available with all packages? Some chat services do not provide chat logs with all purchase plans. Lucky Orange does though, and it’s vital that this feature is included with all
- How much training is involved? You shouldn’t need a PhD in computer science to set up the chat nor should a chat system require excessive training to get all operators up to speed. The more complicated the system, the less likely it will be used correctly AND the more time will be needed to train any new staff.
- What integrations are available? Any company looking at an online chat system needs to also to identify if the chat can be integrated into other products as well. For example, Lucky Orange has integrations with many marketing, sales, and eCommerce websites. If your marketing team uses HubSpot but your customer service team doesn’t, chat information such as logs can also be integrated into HubSpot to help the marketing team identify potential leads.
- How responsive is the chat provider? Sometimes this option is sorely overlooked. Online reviews are a great place to start, but I would also suggest reaching to the provider’s team for assistance and information. If you have specialized needs or run into a problem, will the provider respond and address the issue?
Still don’t know where to get started? Sign up for a free trial from Lucky Orange to try it out for yourself – no credit card required.