How did live chat become such a popular customer service channel? Chat came along and grew in importance as smartphone use became more common, but social networks also grew in popularity at the same time. Why do customers love chat to the extent that for many this is now their primary and preferred way to engage with brands?
eMarketer research suggests that 63% of customers are willing to return to a website that offers a live chat experience and 51% of customers expect 24/7 availability as normal opening hours.
That’s a powerful argument for brands to deploy a chat strategy, but the
most important driver for the customer is instant availability. For customers
used to years of calling a helpline number and waiting on hold until an agent
is available, the instantaneous nature of chat is highly attractive. In fact,
41% of customers will now actively choose chat just because they want this
Chat also humanizes customer interactions. This may sound counterintuitive because many would expect that a phone conversation is more personal than online chat, but when you add in the hold time and the IVR system (press 1 for this and 2 for that) then being able to immediately start talking about your problem using chat looks far more personal and interactive.
Chat is also a highly familiar channel for many people today, especially
millennials who are more comfortable using chat than making calls. Some smart
phone users rarely use their phone as a phone and chat slots into their
preference for communication styles.
For all these reasons, chat has become wildly popular with customers –
far more popular than social media interactions. However there are also some
distinct benefits for companies using chat as a customer service channel.
Agents can chat to more than one customer at the same time, creating
efficiencies by working in parallel across several customers simultaneously.
Chatbots can be used to create a layer where the simplest questions are handled
automatically and anything that confuses the bot gets instantly transferred to
a human agent. It also increases customer satisfaction by offering the
immediate service they now demand.
Across all industries and markets we work in, chat has consistently been found to be the fastest growing customer service channel.