Why Live Chat and Messaging Should be Part of Your Customer Service Strategy
Adopting chat or messaging as part of an omnichannel customer experience (CX) strategy is key in meeting your customers’ growing expectations and meeting them where they are.
Live Chat vs Messaging: What’s the Difference?
Live chat, sometimes called online chat, web chat or live support, is a means for your organization to have an instant, written interaction with a customer or a potential customer whenever they visit your website. What’s more, chat links can also be embedded into emails and messages that can direct customers straight to a live chat session.
In live chat, your customer engages in a real-time conversation with a contact center associate through a chat window embedded in your website.
Messaging, meanwhile, is often facilitated through social media channels such as WhatsApp, Facebook’s Messenger or Apple Business Chat. Messaging puts your customer in the driving seat, connecting in the channels where they already spend their time. Over 55% of consumers use messaging channels for customer service or brand engagement.
While chat is a real-time conversation, messaging is asynchronous, enabling customers to reach out to your brand and carry on with their day, returning to the conversation when it’s convenient for them. With messaging, customers can switch between devices throughout the conversation; for example, they can begin the conversation from their laptop, continue from their mobile phone while they have coffee with a friend and complete the interaction from their tablet while they relax at home in the evening.
Chat and messaging offer related but differentiated solutions, both of which allow your customers to connect digitally with live agents.
- Integrated into website
- Requires immediate response
- Agents must be available
- Integrated into website, mobile apps and customers’ preferred social channels
- Ability to switch between devices, apps and browsers during the conversation
- Can be accessed at any time, regardless of whether agents are available
Why Customers Love Live Chat and Messaging
Chat and messaging services are the fast, friendly future of customer service and support. In the past consumers had to call in to connect with your brand, but that left your customer tied up on phone causing inconvenience and frustration – especially if they were left waiting in the call queue. Consumers looking for a non-voice solution might have sent your business an email, waiting days or even weeks for your reply. With speed one of the most important elements of customer service driving customer satisfaction, the wait risked your NPS score.
Today, 78% of U.K. and 65% of U.S. consumers prefer connecting with brands via digital channels to resolve issues. Chat and messaging delivers digital interactions on your customer’s terms, with the speed and flexibility your customers value. Chat consistently delivers 80%+ customer satisfaction, and it is now the third most popular contact channel after voice and email.
With chat and messaging, there is no more inconvenient waiting on the phone. Customers interact with your brand whenever and wherever it suits them directly from their preferred device.
What are the Benefits of Using Chat for Customer Support?
Chat does not need to be deployed on every page of your website, in fact more than half of organizations using web chat do so only at specifically triggered points in the interaction. In this way you can target chat support to users at a specific point in their customer journey, for example when customers visit specific pages, when they have been on the site for a specified amount of time or as they begin to place an order.
Chat can be a particularly successful tool when deployed to support online sales, and can be used as a proactive sales tool – reaching out to customers to proactively ask if they have any questions about a specific product or need support in making their purchase based on their activity on your website. Website users who use chat are 2.8 times more likely to convert to sale than those who don’t and customers are 3 times more likely to make a purchase when you reach out to them via live chat.
What are the Benefits of Using Messaging for Customer Support?
Because messaging doesn’t require a real-time response, it can be effectively used to help manage peaks in demand. Messaging agents are not responding in real-time which enables them to handle a greater number of conversations simultaneously than their colleagues working on live chat. An agent managing interactions over messaging can handle up to 8 conversations concurrently, while a live chat agent can effectively manage up to 3 conversations concurrently.
In addition, because messaging is accessed through customers’ preferred social channels, it enables you to connect with your customers in the channels where they already are, driving brand engagement and customer satisfaction.
Do I Need Chat and Messaging?
The short answer is “yes.” Chat and messaging offer related but differentiated solutions which meet different needs for your business, and for your customers.
By leveraging the unique benefits of chat and messaging you can target specific business goals, driving efficiency and effectiveness as well as customer satisfaction.
How do You Effectively Integrate Chat and Messaging into your Omnichannel Customer Service Strategy?
Disjointed communications disengage customers and drive operating costs up. Strategically adding chat and messaging solutions to your omnichannel strategy creates a better customer experience (CX) and streamlines business processes, driving cost efficiencies. Chat and messaging should be deployed as part of a wider strategy that employs both self-service and voice-based customer support and that directs customers to the most appropriate channel based for example on their preferences, the complexity of the issue and the potential value of the interaction.
Analyzing your data to understand the customer journey and identify the drivers behind interactions enables you to help customers to help themselves in self-service channels while driving escalations to the most effective, least costly channels. Offering self-service solutions meets customer expectations as 53% of consumers want self-service options. Where escalations are necessary, an omnichannel approach ensures customers can remain in their channel of choice.
To deliver the greatest efficiencies, chat and messaging can be combined with artificial intelligence. Users interact with a chatbot for common queries and repeatable tasks and are escalated to live chat or messaging if the chatbot can’t answer their query. In this way customers stay in their preferred channel, while still getting the personal support they need from a live agent. This approach deflects interactions from voice-based channels while also driving customer satisfaction.
This is why chat and messaging are most effective when considered as part of an integrated omnichannel strategy with clearly defined goals and measures of success.
Are You Ready for Chat and Messaging?
Integrating live chat and asynchronous messaging with your existing customer communication channels will help you manage contact volumes, prioritize customers with the most complex and pressing issues, manage more interactions without having to manage larger teams and will help you move towards automating elements of the customer journey.
To learn more about chat and messaging and the key considerations for adoption, download our best practice guide here.