“We are moving more and more towards live chat support, because it makes it easier for us to quickly fix the problem.” – David Freer
We know that in today’s fast-paced world, customers constantly seek companies that would make their lives easier, and provide service that is fast and effective. Keeping this requirement in mind, technology brought about the concept of live chat – where customers could ‘speak’ to a live agent capable of providing instant and effective responses. However, in several companies live chat fails for customers, for a variety of reasons. What is the point of having the functionality of liv chat, if every time customers decided to seek help there was no one available or the live chat agent were not knowledgeable or skilled to help the customers? Live chat fails for customers when it is unable to fulfil its prime purpose of bridging the gap between the personal face-to-face offline interactions and the formal and ‘cold’ online experiences. Live chat came about because of companies wanting a low cost channel of communication (as compared to the telephone) and one that would allow the modern and tech-savvy customers of today, to interact with their brand.
Live chat fails for customers when company representatives (live chat agents) are unable to handle efficiently enough the multiple simultaneous chats they would be assigned, or would be unable to provide efficient help and advice. This amounts to poor user experience for customers, which would turn to frustration and ire. Despite companies claiming that they provide top class customer service, their customers do not receive the help when they need it, and are forced to shift between the various channels of communication. The result of such shoddy service, in the form of failed live chats, customers leave businesses and seek companies actually providing speedier, timely, and efficient service and support. The fact is that live chat is a great tool, and is fast becoming one of the preferred channels for customers to interact with a company. Live chat fails for customers however, if it is not available at the ‘landing page’ or connecting point of the website of a company. Rather than having to sift through the entire website of a company for one minuscule detail, it would help customers to chat with a company representative and find out what they want to know. However, if the live agent is unavailable or is unable to help customers with answers, it would mean that the live chat fails for customers, and the company can be sure that customers would vent their ire in some form or another. When companies support an efficient and effective live chat system, customers perceive such companies as being committed and passionate about service excellence. The converse is also true.
Live chat fails for customers in several companies. The reasons would be manifold – they would not have a sufficient number of people managing it, or the representatives would be ill-equipped to handle queries and or the live agents would be available for a limited number of hours (the hours of operation of the company). The fact is that today with the internet and online transactions, people from anywhere in the world can view company products and connect with the companies. Companies too, encourage global customers to increase their business and take it across the world. However, given the varying time zones, companies must be mindful that their customers would need to connect at times, which may not be ‘waking’ hours for the company. Hence, looking at round the clock service such as 24 hour live chat, would make it a lot easier and convenient for customers. Customers are not interested in waiting or filling out some form with a promise that ‘someone from the company would revert’ – they want instant answers, and when that does not happen, live chat fails for customers.
Marketing and communication experts believe that there is a huge opportunity for companies to use live chat to consistently engage their customers and website ‘visitors’, even when the company’s normal working hours are over for the day. Among the top preferences of customers, being able to connect with a company when they want or how they want is one of the important ones. Live chat fails for customers when it is not available to them when they want or they are unable to access it from anywhere and from any smart device. If a company commits to a certain channel of communication, it must ensure that the channel is managed properly, works efficiently, and ties in seamlessly with all other parts of the company’s business. Putting up a website and ensuring that it is easy to navigate, takes a lot of effort and several resources of the company. Every bit of space on the website therefore, must be managed and used judiciously. A live chat window too takes up prime space on a company’s website, and if it does not work properly, it is a wasted resource and from a customer’s perspective, useless and irrelevant.
What according to your company are some of the reasons why live chat fails for customers? According to studies, security concerns seem to ‘rule the roost’ among the reasons for live chat failure. A large section of customers believe that live chat is not secure, and hence companies may end up losing several visitors to their site. The solution would be to have a secure window for live chats, clearly displaying ‘https’ (HTTPS consists of communication over Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) within a connection encrypted by Transport Layer Security, or its predecessor, Secure Sockets Layer – Wikipedia), thereby letting customers know that they can safely ‘chat’. It is imperative for companies to keep all chats secure, and hence investing in a ‘firewall’ and secured server that belongs to the company, is critical. Without the aspect of security, companies would continue to lose visitors to their more ‘security aware’ competitors.
Research shows that at least 15% customers have had poor live chat experiences. Unavailability of live chat agents is one of the major annoyances and top reasons why live chat fails for customers. Companies and their chat providers must be responsible enough to remove the live chat option until their staff is available to assist the customers, replacing the live chat with a portion for a call back request. This way, customers know that the company is attentive towards their responsibility, and customers would be more amenable to wait for someone to call them. Tying in with this point, another reason why live chat fails with customers is being unable to connect with the right department / team or even person. The solution could be a short pre-chat questionnaire, which would help the company determine the nature of the customer’s problem / issue, and hence direct them to the team / department that would be able to resolve the issue instantly.
Even if a customer is able to put the problem across during the live chat, poor follow-up after the chat leads to customer dissatisfaction and ire. Research shows that at least 78% customers would resort to connecting with the company through some other means, simply because there was no follow-up / action taken post their ‘chat’ with the agent. The inability of the company to take remedial action on a complaint or problem discussed by a customer, via the chat, means that the live chat would have failed from the customer’s perspective. Additionally, the company’s systems must have the ability to integrate the details of the customer and the ‘chat’, to a centralized data base, such that if a customer were to use a different channel of communication, they would not need to repeat their details and nature of the problem. Poor implementation is one of the reasons why live chat fails for customers.
Live chat is a part of customer service, and today customer service is the backbone and cornerstone of any company. Poor service is extremely annoying and frustrating for customers, leading them to leave and spread negative word of mouth about a company. Think about it – why let something as simple as a live chat ruin your company’s growth prospects and market reputation.