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By the end of 2015 more than 70% of contact centres will be operating web chat, more than double the number at the start of the year1. Chat buttons are popping everywhere, on social media, smartphones, anywhere you look. Dave Pattman, customer solutions director at Webhelp says, we’re living through a web chat gold rush and, if you want to make it big, you’re going to have to dig.
By 2016 70% of contact centres will operate web chat.
Web chat is the most effective way imaginable to bridge the gap between ‘digital interaction’ and ‘human engagement’. Customers can get human help when they need it, while organisations get to keep customers on digital channels (and off the phone) where they can be served more cheaply. Win win, right?
Maybe. But not an easy win. Vendors might say, just introduce web chat and watch the money roll in – sales will soar, customers will be happy and calls to your contact centre will plummet like a stone. Sorry. Not quite.
Hope for the best? Please don’t.
But lots of organisations do. 39% make no effort to measure the quality of web chat’s performance or its impact on the customer experience2. They don’t know what it costs them – or what it delivers. Wake up! If you don’t want the gold rush to leave you with your pockets turned out, you need to apply the same rigour to web chat that you’ve lavished on the voice channel for so long.
Call deflection. Really?
Call deflection may be your goal (and it’s a poor one in isolation) but it’s a terrible way to measure performance. Focus first on the customer experience and use analytics to understand how to offer web chat invitations that get accepted. Get those things right and call deflection will take care of itself. And, by the way, you’re likely to see revenues rise as well as costs fall.
Less is more? Dead right.
Early adopters scattered chat buttons everywhere. Sometimes they got lucky. Mostly they didn’t. At best they got a lot of web chats that delivered little benefit. Customer issues didn’t get resolved, sales weren’t made…and the phone kept ringing.
You’ve got to monitor the impact of each web chat on the customer’s subsequent behaviour to know if you’ve achieved anything. Use analytics to do this at scale and you’ll find out how to invite chats that have the best chance to be productive. Not ‘would you like to chat?’ but ‘can I help you find the bag to match those shoes.’
Get personal? Every time.
Use analytics to predict customer behaviour and anticipate what they’ll want from you next. Now you can offer proactive chats, including prompts to buy. It works best when you can get personal and be specific. In a mobile telco for example; ‘we notice your contract is up for renewal next month Simon – want to chat about renewing?’ There’s a technology integration challenge there I know but, believe me, it’s worth it.
Digital first? Absolutely.
Self-service is your ultimate goal right? So apply analytics to identify web chats that signal a self-service failure; when a customer has tried to do something online but couldn’t. That chat’s not ‘value’; it’s pure cost. Apply analytics to identify the root causes of those chats, then eradicate them.
Onward and upward? Yes.
Make sure your next web chat deployment delivers. Make it part of a coordinated ‘digital first’ strategy that means self-service becomes a pleasure for your customers and gold dust for you.
David Pattman is customer solutions director at the customer experience outsourcing business, Webhelp. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.