In today’s digital world, the face of customer service has changed.  With the advancements in technology and a self-service culture, consumers are demanding instant access to solutions and on-demand customer service.  According to a 2016 report, “51% of consumers say a business needs to be available 24/7.

This can be a tall order for businesses to fill, and in this day and age of increasing competition for consumers attention, is not one that can be avoided.  Live Chat entered the business landscape in the mid-90s as a way for companies to overcome the challenge of providing 24/7 support, and fast forward to 2018, has become an essential tool in a business’s customer experience strategy.  And the numbers prove it.

According to Zendesk, 92% of consumers feel satisfied when using a live chat feature as opposed to voice (88%), email (85%), and social media.  Another 51% in an Econsultancy study found that customers prefer live chat because of its format that enables multitasking, with 21% stating it helps them shop while they work.

42% of consumers say that they prefer live chat functions because they don’t have to wait on hold.

Consumers prefer to type instead of talk.  In fact, Business Insider found that 59% of consumers would go through additional channels to communicate with a business instead of picking up the phone.  While this does not negate the very real need for voice communications, it shows that consumers have a definite preference and will go out of their way to work with a business that can meet them where they are.  Businesses need to accommodate several methods of communications to capture the greatest audience, including voice and live chat.

Benefits of Live Chat

Live chat increases sales: According to MarTech Magazine, 51% of customers are more likely to purchase from a business who offers a Live Chat option, while 29% will even if they do not use the feature. reported that the web-based shipping solution, ShipStation, shared that one of their customers were able to increase conversion rates by as much as 20% of their sales occur after a live chat conversation.

Not only does Live Chat increase sales, but a Forrester Research study found that 44% of people say that the most important thing a business can offer for online purchases is the option of a live person chat to answer questions during the purchasing process. Consumers want instant access to answers, and live chat gives them the opportunity to get those answers, without having to wait impatiently on hold.

Live chat saves money: How can adding a feature save your business money?  Simple.  By increasing the efficiency of your employees. The same multi-tasking benefit that consumers are looking for by utilizing live chat options applies to businesses who employ this strategy in their business, but with the added benefit of a reduction in costs.  Live Chat Agents are able to carry on multiple text conversations at the same time, unlike in a traditional call center, allowing you to meet more of your consumer’s needs at one time and with fewer resources.  This ultimately reduces multiple cost centers, as more of the burden shifts to chat agents, the demand on call centers and help desks is reduced.

 Live chat increases brand reputation and customer experience: 48% of customers who take advantage of Live Chat solutions are more likely to return to the website.  Consumers who are confident in their purchase tend to spend more and return, thereby reducing your overall cost of acquisition.  It is less expensive to maintain a current customer than to convert a new one.  By having a Live Chat offering, customers can easily ask questions during their purchase, increasing their confidence that they are buying the right product, leading to a higher average order amount.   Additional studies have shown that consumers who see a Live Chat option (even if they do not use it) on a website, 41% of shoppers trust that website just by having the option.

Agents vs. Bots for Live Chat

As the use cases and benefits of providing live chat services for your consumers grow, the conversation shifts from if you should provide live chat to how.  And there are two main schools of thoughts on how to go about this: Artificial intelligence and robots or human agents.

There is a lot of speculation surrounding artificial intelligence and its efficacy as a customer service solution.  Robots can free human agents from repetitive tasks and questions and free them up to do more of the deep thinking, creative processes that are essential to your business growth.  But the reality is, chatbots are killing customer service.

Yes, they really are.  As we explored in our last blog here, chatbots are devoid of any emotion, often leaving consumers frustrated.  Bots rely on information that was input into the system by another human counterpart, meaning they can only answer the information that they have been pre-programmed to give.  They are unable to peel back the layers of a consumers question and determine which product would best meet the need they are looking to fill.  Business Consultant, Christopher Elliot, says, “A human can answer a question on the fly, empathize with a frustrated customer and get to the issue pretty quickly.”

People are the heart of superior customer service

People buy emotions, not things.  At least, according to Tony Robbins, renowned business advisor and speaker.  And if people buy based on how they feel, then how they feel about your brand will play a significant role in their ultimate decision to buy from you or a competitor, and people relate better with other people than with technology.  So for your Live Chat solution to be successful, it needs to be supported by humans, not robots.  Premier BPO LLC takes the challenge out of securing top-notch, highly-trained, empathetic customer service professionals, ensuring that your Live Chat solution is manned by exceptional and friendly people.  Don’t wait, start your Live Chat solution today and gain that competitive edge.

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