5 reasons why you need to offer webchat (and 7 ways to make sure it works)

by • October 1, 2015 • The Science BitComments (0)2648

There are numerous statistics that reinforce the value of smooth online interactions with customers, but perhaps the most alarming is the claim from analyst firm Forrester that 45% will abandon an online purchase if they can’t quickly find answers to their questions.

One of the key considerations in reducing online abandonment is to ensure that it is easy and convenient to contact sales or customer support assistance. Making it easy for the customer has to be the number one priority and increasingly this is being achieved through web chat. Here are 5 reasons why web chat is an essential tool for all online retailers:

1) Customers like webchat

According to eDigital’s Customer Service Benchmark, which surveyed 2,000 consumers on their experiences of various customer service channels, live online chat had the highest satisfaction levels (73%) of any customer service channel. By comparison, email scored 61% and phone a meagre 44%.

2) It’s a communication method your customers are already using

When you consider that we’re increasingly conducting our lives via text – evident in the popularity of tablets, mobile devices and services like WhatsApp – providing a means to interact via web chat seems obvious. Best of all, web chats remove the pain of being on hold listening to an apparently never ending compilation of rock ballads, none of which are performed by the original artists!

3) You need to respond quickly

Research shows that consumers abandon sites after an average of only three clicks. They want answers right away, and the inability to answer their questions quickly can drive customers away from your site. Prompt live assistance makes the customer feel that their needs are being met. By engaging consumers throughout the online experience, an organisation can dramatically improve its conversion rates.

4) It’s effective…

With 60% of consumers likely to abandon online conversions if their questions are not promptly addressed, businesses offering web chat can tackle this by ensuring that communication is offered to the right customer at the right time. More than 40% of consumers consider having live chat assistance during conversion to be one of the most important features of a website.

5) …and cheap

Making better use of agents’ time also allows organisations to reduce unnecessary labour costs by being able to handle peak levels of activity while using the same workforce. What’s more, companies using live chat and text messaging as part of their customer management activities typically enjoy a 23% lower cost per customer contact, compared to those that are not using them.

Web chat essentially combines the best of phone and email, but only if it’s done properly. Here are 7 things to consider to ensure you get the best out of this contact channel:

1) Contextual engagement

It’s important to have multiple ways for customers to engage with live agents, whether that be proactive chat, reactive chat or exit chat. It needs to incorporate any type of content too – surveys, videos, guides, message, images, etc.

2) Dynamic windows

Chat windows define the customer experience. Dynamic windows persist as consumers navigate the site so contact and context are never lost. These windows should reflect a business’ site branding, support “push” content for agents to display and allow consumers to re-size or adjust them to their preferences.

3) Simple-but-effective agent consoles

Customer representatives need to know the full context of the consumer experience during a conversation. Agent interfaces should be simple and intuitive so representatives can focus on conversations instead of software.

4) Intelligent queuing

Long wait times for agents can destroy customer satisfaction. Web chat should not be offered to site visitors unless agents are available. What’s more, routing visitors to agents with specialised knowledge will lead to higher conversions and satisfaction.

5) Transfer and conference

Any system must support escalations or transfers from care to sales and vice versa. A good web chat system will allow smooth transfers to the appropriate agent pool to quickly provide the required assistance.

6) Security and privacy

Encryption should be a given to ensure the conversations remain secure and all data collected remains the property of the business.

7) Evaluate regularly

In order to excel in delighting customers and reducing costs, companies must regularly gauge the effectiveness of their activities and make appropriate adjustments to address evolving business requirements. Those that do enjoy 94% greater annual improvement in customer lifetime value.

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