An emerging channel that still doesn't seem to have been picked up over the years by organisations is web chat or commonly referred to as online chat.
Quick definition: web chat is a channel for customer interaction where a customer can chat with a customer service representative in real time over the web, without using instant messaging, either through the company's website or by opening up a new web browser.
Currently approximately one in five organisations have implemented a web chat technology, however web chat interactions only make up less than 1% of total interactions for an organisation.
Is this a lack of demand issue or is it because web chat has not been done well by organisations?
From our research, we know that web chat is a high effort (in terms of time and energy) channel, however customers are willing to use the channel in the future with one in ten customers indicating that they will regularly use web chat in the next 1-2 years to contact an organisation. Hence it is important to make the web chat experience as enjoyable as possible for the customer.
How can this be achieved?
Here's a handy guide I found from Firstsource... the 7 guidelines for a best practice web chat service include:
- Set Chat Programme Goals
- Monitor Your Site Activity
- Place Chat Buttons Prominently
- Dedicate Time to Your Chat Programme
- Reach Out to Your Potential Customers
- Make Chat Part of Your Sales and Service Processes
- Learn How to Sell and Provide Service via Chat
The only thing I would add here is to ensure that web chat is proactively offered rather than just sitting in the corner of the web page somewhere. It is important to note that web chat shouldn't be randomly offered, but offered based on rules such as a period of inactivity especially at the pages where the customer is purchasing the product or service.
Now that we're all excited about web chat, just a word of caution, web chat is not for everyone or every interaction – it is vital to understand the needs and preferences of your customers prior to looking into web chat.