Have you ever tried stepping into your customer’s shoes and asking yourself, ‘if I am doing some shopping online, would I appreciate someone available to help me? Why and when would you click to chat with the seller?’
Why asking that question in the first place? Not to enjoy a little role play, nah, although all of us no doubt occasionally find ourselves in that crucial to economy role of a shopper. Placing yourself in the position of your customer is the best way to understand their needs, their behavior and their expectations.
So today we have tried this little technique and here’s what we have found. The top reasons consumers choose to chat with the company versus deciding to phone or email customer service.
#1 Instant feedback from the company
Picking up the phone, although it sounds very easy and you would expect it to be the fastest way to get an answer to your question, does not always provide the quickest solution. How long ago did you have a satisfactory customer experience over the phone? I personally haven’t had it in a long time. Typically the scenario would be waiting on hold for a good chunk of time just to hear that you’re going to be transferred to someone else, which will result in another round of waiting, then some unlucky accident and you’re cut off and left wondering whether you should make another attempt.
With all these companies trying to implement more and more automation chasing higher productivity, the genuine connection with the customer is lost. Trying to get through all those IVR systems requires of the customer unbelievable patience and persistence. It almost feels like they’re screening the most infuriated customers to delight into their tirade, as who would expect a normal person with a common everyday problem to have just enough resilience to survive the experience.
Of course, there still are some mammoths out there, who do pick up their phone and deliver great customer service over it. But because of the many companies who don’t do it, the general expectation is very low with many customers reluctant to subject themselves to another trial.
With email it can get even worse. You are sending your email into the future and have no guarantee that someone is going to respond. And if they do, it’s more likely it’s going to take at least few hours. So you will have to come back to your problem and start working on it again.
Live Chat at this point is much easier. You are instantly connected to the company rep and can address the issue and get a solution right there and then. Even if they are busy and there is a queue, typically those queues are nothing like phone queues stretched into the next day. Normally they get dissipated in no time, especially that the chat agents have the advantage of multi-tasking, so they can start addressing your question even when they are still chatting with someone else. Additionally, you as a customer can also do your own thing and get notified when someone is ready to chat with you. So you have more control over the situation here and are in a better position overall.
#2 Ability to multi-task
In today’s fast-paced environment we sometimes don’t have any choice but to multi-task. Even if we wanted to concentrate on one thing and get it done, we often find ourselves pulled from different sides and end up tackling inconceivable number of issues at a time.
Living this reality, if you have a problem and have already made contact with support, live chat allows you to conduct communication at your own speed. You can exchange messages with the operator back and forth and be sure that they will not hung up on you and will give you the necessary time to finish your other tasks, or the time you need to work out the problem in reference.
On each message from support agent you can choose to receive sound notification in case you need to step away from your computer. This is also true for the operator, so if you have been silent for some time, they would know when you are back and would be ready to continue the conversation without delay.
#3 Ease of use and convenience
Live chat is an extremely mobile form of communication, offered right from the webpage you are visiting. You don’t have to pick up the phone and make your way through a line of auto responders, you don’t even have to launch your email client to write a message. Help is always available on the spot if you need it.
Perhaps thanks to this mobile nature of this tool, it happened that there was also established a special form of communication between supporters and chat users, which is quite different from the normal flow of a phone conversation. Online chat does not require a long introduction or explanations from you. Most of the information about you is already available to the supported through the monitoring tool, so they don’t need to ask you a load of questions to understand your situation. Their answers are often very short and straight to the point, aimed at providing you with just the information you need.
Additionally, you can have a record of your chat sent to your email, and then reference to it whenever you need to pick up the conversation or look up your arrangements with the seller, which adds up to the convenience of using chat for support.
#4 Efficient problem solving
Live chat is equipped with many handy tools that allow for a more expedient and efficient problem solving. Co-browser would be one example of such a tool, allowing the support operator to show you different product pages and direct you to the necessary information on their website so you can compare your options and make the right choice. It also enables the agent to look at your screen and see the web page errors you are seeing for faster troubleshooting.
There is the file transfer feature, which serves for immediate exchange of files, and makes it possible for the agent to send product specifications, prices, manuals, instructions, images etc. etc. – anything that you may need to learn about the product or service, or solve a problem.
Over chat you can share links, any personal details or the details from your account and avoid having to spell it to the rep, which may take a lot of time and be transcribed incorrectly.
If you experienced live chat before you are likely to be aware of these benefits and how they helped you to deal with your problem. Remembering the previous experience it is almost certain you will be eager to jump into a chat room next time you are shopping around and want to ask a question, as this will come across as the easiest and quickest solution.
#5 Maintained privacy
Shopping can be such a deeply personal experience, especially if we are doing it in a work environment. Most of us wouldn’t want our colleagues or the boss to overhear our conversation with the seller, discussing our preferences, sizes, or giving out payment information.
The convenience of live chat allows you to securely share any private information directly with the seller, without any fear of it being overheard, or overtaken by third parties.
Even if you are at home and shopping for a present for your family members, you can keep it secret…
As customers are getting hands on with technology, more and more of them expect to be offered instant help via live chat, especially when buying from an online store. With the growing appreciation of its uses, they no longer consider it a fancy gadget on the website, rather an indispensable tool which facilitates their online experience and saves them a great deal of time and effort.
Is your website equipped to meet the customer expectation? Are there any reasons you don’t have a live chat on your website yet?
We welcome you to share your thoughts!
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Very interesting article. Much more, the opportunity to chat direclty with your potential customer gives you a huge of usefull information about customer profile and website development. Many times, best ideas comes directly from your visitors.
You are right, Alessandro. Users are the greatest source of inspiration, and I’m sure it’s not for us only.
Interesting and informative article which most people will find usefull. Communicating directly with customers will give company real time customers feedback and problem area.
Thank you for sharing your appreciation, Ivan! True that direct communication with customers is vitally important to any business, as this one area gives us the best opportunities to stand out and be different.
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