When using email for customer service was first offered, it seemed like a good idea. It was an ideal format to provide multi-step answers to “technical” questions, but it also expanded into areas where customer questions often weren’t very technical.
As a customer, you used email because it was better than phoning a call center and being placed on hold. When you finally received an email reply, you found it often contained, not an answer but, a bunch of questions requesting more information. This could go on and on until you either found the answer yourself, the problem magically went away, or you just gave up.
Email, as a customer service channel, can stigmatize online customer support, but live chat, when done well, changes all that. Why? Because it has real advantages for your customers and they know it. In fact, more customers these days are turning to the Internet to resolve their issues before they pick up the phone or start to craft emails.
The following are my top five reasons why I believe your customers will love chat as a customer service option:
Customers still interact with a real person. You can tell they are real because you have had the experience of texting with friends or reading tweets. You can tell it’s genuine because it sounds like they are talking with you. They even tell you their name. So it’s like a phone conversation without having to navigate through complicated menu systems to find the right department or, equally as frustrating, having to wait a long time on hold.
It’s easy to use. Customers just open up a dialogue box and start typing. Or, in some cases, a pop-up chat box (called proactive chat) appears asking if the customer would like to engage. Likewise, the technology itself is intuitive and reliable offering numerous customer benefits including the ability to increase font size, print a chat transcript, and even co-browse web pages with a chat agent.
Customers can multi-task. Your customers can start a chat session, ask some tough questions and then while agents are digging for the answers, your customers can review their friends’ updates on Facebook, conduct a Google search, or even check your laundry.
It’s immediate. Customers can ask a question and get an answer almost immediately without sitting on hold and listening to bad music. And, if there is a backlog to reach a chat agent, chat technology can help set expectations by showing customers expected wait times and their position within the chat queue.
No talking needed. Live chat gives your customers the flexibility to deal with other important issues or tasks at hand, such as billing support, without fear of being overheard by co-workers in the next cubicle. Likewise, your customers no longer have to broadcast their support issues at the local coffee shop through their Bluetooth as if it were a megaphone.
One more thing, for those customers that find complaining a little intimidating, chat is a more comfortable way to interact. There’s no shouting. It’s all very civilized.