3 Reasons Why You Need Live Chat

Cyber Monday 2017 reached several milestones. Online transactions reached a record $6.59 billion, a 16.8 percent increase from a year ago, while for the first time, mobile sales reached $2 billion over a 24-hour period. Consumers are obviously shopping online, where they find convenience as well as deals, but many also expect a personal touch.

According to Forrester Research 44 percent of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a Web site can offer. In another report from Zendesk, 92 percent of customers reported they felt satisfied when they used live chat, compared to other communication options like voice (88 percent), email (85 percent), web form (85 percent), and social media (Facebook 84 percent, Twitter 77 percent).

When consumers use chat, they report higher levels of satisfaction. According to the eDigital Customer Service Benchmark, live chat had the highest customer satisfaction levels at 73 percent, compared to email support at 61 percent, and only 44 percent for traditional phone support.

If improved customer satisfaction isn’t enough, live chat can also help resolve problems faster, expand your market reach, discover customer pain points. Here are the top three benefits of utilizing a live chat solution:

Reduced Expenses

By lowering average interaction costs, live chat reduces overall contact center costs, and because agents can handle multiple chats simultaneously, it helps them be more productive. In fact, with proper training, most live chat agents can handle an average of three or more chats at once, while also helping to drastically decrease the phone wait queue

Live chat doesn’t cost much more than a quality email provider and is a lot cheaper than phone support. In fact, Forrester research has shown that live chat customer service is 17-30% cheaper than a phone call.

Increased Sales

Much research has gone into whether chat can actually increase sales, and the results are clear. According to the American Marketing Association, live chat can increase conversions by at least 20 percent. If a customer has a question or needs help while making a purchase online, live chat provides instant access to one of your brand ambassadors who can immediately assist in walking them through their purchase. An ATG Global Consumer Trend report found that 62 percent of respondents were more likely to purchase from a site with live chat again, while 38 percent of respondents said they had made their purchase due to the chat session itself.

Chat can also provide opportunities for upselling products. When customers engage with an agent who understands their needs, they are likely to trust – and act upon – the agent’s recommendations.

Competitive Advantage

In the last five years, the number of U.S. online shoppers who use live chat has increased from 38 percent to 58 percent, according to Forrester research.  What’s more, chat is often the channel of choice for Millennials, who prefer typing to talking. That said, not many companies have adopted live chat, which means that simply by offering this functionality, you can distinguish yourself from competitors. Plus, because chat provides more opportunities to engage your customers proactively, you can engage them before your competition does.

Conclusion

Reduced expenses, increased sales and a competitive advantage are three great reasons to invest in live chat, but perhaps the best reason is the convenience it offers your customer, who appreciate the fact the wait times are often much less than through a phone call. Plus, customers can multi-task while waiting. According to Econsultancy, 51 percent of customers prefer live chat for multitasking purposes, while another 21 percent preferring live chat because it allows them to shop while they work. To learn more about how live chat can help your business increase customer experience while decreasing overall contact center costs, contact ASK today.

Three Simple Ways to Improve Omni-Channel Customer Support

Your customers’ expectations are high, especially when it comes to omnichannel service. The traditional touchpoints – store, phone and email – are now supplemented with self-serve tools, live chat, social networks and even SMS alerts. If you think omni-channel customer support is merely a fad or somehow doesn’t apply to your business, consider this Research by Zendesk:

  • 64 percent of consumers expect to receive real-time assistance regardless of the customer service channel they use.
  • 37 percent expect to be able to contact the same customer service representative regardless of which channel they use.
  • 87 percent think brands need to work harder to create a seamless experience for customers.
  • 73 percent think brands pay more attention to generating sales across multiple channels than they do to providing an integrated customer service experience.
  • 78 percent say a company’s reputation for customer service is important to them when choosing to buy from a particular brand.

Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly

Mobile usage continues to grow as more people use devices to search for and buy products and services. Using mobile to get answers to their customer support questions and issues is a natural progression, but this is where many businesses are falling behind. 90 percent of consumers reported that their customer service experience on mobile was negative, while 52 percent said a poor mobile experience makes them less inclined to do business with a company. By optimizing your website for mobile use, you show your customers you care about their experience and, in turn you gain a competitive edge.

Respond to Social Media

You already know that social media can be a great customer service tool, but most businesses are not meeting customer expectations on this channel. When a customer initiates contact via social media, 32 percent of them expect an answer within 30 minutes. Compare that to the 157-minute average response time for leading businesses. Only 8 percent respond within 30 minutes, and 12 percent of businesses don’t respond at all. This represents a lot of missed opportunity. Not only are businesses missing out on delighting customers to create loyal fans, they are also passing on a chance to jump ahead of competitors. When you ignore social media, customers become frustrated, which can lead to churn rates of up to 15 percent.

Offer Self-service Options

Consumers expect the convenience of being able to visit your website, and within a few clicks, solve issues themselves. In fact, nearly three quarters of consumers prefer to use a business’ website to find a solution vs. other service channels. By adding a self-service option like a comprehensive FAQ page on your website, you can increase customer satisfaction, while at the same time decrease the amount of time it takes an agent to solve a problem.

In addition to an FAQ page, consider adding live chat to your website. According to Forrester, 63 percent of visitors are more likely to revisit a site that offers live chat. In addition to being an effective option for customer service, live chat has been shown to improve sales. In fact, 44 percent of consumers report that being able to get answers to their questions during a purchase is one of the most important website features. As agents help customers with a particular issue, there is opportunity for them to identify and recommend products or services that could be useful.

Whatever your omni-channel strategy, keep in mind that the end goal is an improved customer experience that provides helpful and friendly service. To find out more about how ASK omni-channel service can help you grow your relationships with your customers, schedule a FREE demo today.

Three Signs You Need an Answering Service

Research has shown that despite having more options than ever, today’s consumers crave the one-on-one interaction that the phone provides. In a recent Accenture study of more than 25,000 U.S. consumers, more than 80 percent said they would rather solve a problem though direct personal contact than via digital channels such as email, chat or voicemail. Roughly 80 percent of business communications are done by phone, and a recent BIA/Kelsey report predicted that 162 billion calls will be made to businesses from smartphones in 2019.

Businesses can’t afford to miss calls, which is why many hire an answering service. By efficiently managing fluctuating call volumes, an outside vendor can help ensure your customers receive the highest level of service, no matter when they call.  Still on the fence? Take a look at the following scenarios; if you answer “yes” to any, it’s time to find the right answering service to help take your business to the next level.

You’re Missing Calls

Just because your business operates from 9 – 5, doesn’t mean your customers’ needs follow this schedule. If your customers are leaving messages afterhours – whether with concerns or questions, to make a purchase or schedule an appointment – consider the fact that 80 percent of callers don’t leave a message, and approximately 85 percent of people will never call back. These numbers represent very real missed opportunities, not just for sales, but also for customer experience. An answering service can cover your phones 24-hours a day, plus the right provider can do it for less than what it would cost to hire an employee.

Productivity is Suffering

Although it may initially feel great to have an influx of calls, even if your team seems to be handling them, productivity is probably taking a hit. While answering calls, especially if they are juggling between several at once, your staff isn’t doing the essential work that leads to growth. You hired employees to perform unique responsibilities, but if they are answering calls, those functions – like product development, marketing, and order fulfillment – fall by the wayside (which, not coincidentally, is where your customer experience will end up). Related to this is the fact that employees will not feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in their work if they are not performing the duties they were hired to do. By hiring an answering service, you provide staff with the freedom to do all of the things that will make both them and your business wildly successful.

Your Customers Aren’t Happy

If you’re already experiencing missed calls and lower productivity because of lack of call answering resources, then unhappy customers are sure to come next. Whether they feel neglected because of long hold times or not being able to talk to someone after hours, customer dissatisfaction is obviously the last thing you want. Research has shown that while happy customers might tell nine friends about their experience with your company, unhappy customers will vent to an average of sixteen people. Not only that, 82 percent of customers who have a negative experience (like being left on hold) will leave your company for a competitor.

If your business has been under-resourced to the point of causing missed calls, decreased productivity and declining customer experience, you need to make changes fast. ASK call answering services can quickly solve the problem, while setting your business up for future success. The benefits of ASK call answering services include:

  • 24/7 Coverage: When their calls go to voicemail, most callers will not leave a message and will most likely not call back during business hours
  • Improved Customer Experience: Today’s customers demand access to solutions that fit their lifestyles, which may not be your normal operating hours. Customers also crave the personal connection the phone provides. An answering service solution shows your customers that you are there for them at any time.
  • Affordable Solutions: Choose the customizable options that work best for YOUR business, including help during call volume surges.
  • Consistency: ASK representatives are trained to your specifications, so your customers enjoy consistent experiences.

With ASK answering services, not only is every call to your business answered, it’s handled promptly and professionally. This service increases sales opportunities and improves customer experience that leads to more repeat and loyal customers. To find out more, contact ASK today.

5 Contact Center Metrics You Should Be Measuring

As a contact center manager, growth and improvement are always on your radar. With all of the data available to you, it can be challenging to know which numbers are worth following and how they can be used to move the needle on any number of metrics. Here we’ve narrowed them down to the key measures that, when improved, can drive contact center success. Be sure to note the target goal associated with each metric. It’s important to have this squarely in view before you begin any improvement initiatives.

Customer Experience

Customer experience will soon be THE competitive differentiator, with consumers choosing products and services based on this factor over others like quality or price. What’s more, consumers are already signaling their willingness to pay more for a customer experience they enjoy. Since it’s obviously important, here are several ways you can measure the quality of your customer experience:

  • First Call Resolution: Are you resolving customer issues on the first call, ensuring satisfaction as quickly as possible without need for follow-up?
  • Average Wait Time: How long does it take for customers to connect with an agent who can address their needs?

Service Quality

Closely related to customer experience, service quality is the combination of:

  • Customer Satisfaction: How well are agents solving customer issues? This is usually measured through Customer Satisfaction Surveys sent to customers after an interaction
  • Call Service Level Attainment (SLA): What percent of calls are answered in a predetermined number of seconds?

Cost

One of the biggest benefits of outsourcing contact center services is the cost savings vs. an in-house operation. This is one of the most important metrics, and can be determined by measuring the following:

  • Per Call: How much is each call costing your contact center?
  • Agent Attrition: One of the biggest costs in a call center, this is important to track in order to reduce expenses.
  • Agent Absenteeism: Closely related to attrition, absenteeism can indicate the need to improve your workforce management.

Operational Efficiency

Closely related to cost, you should measure operational efficiency to ensure your realizing optimal ROI.

  • Average Handle Time: This is the total time that a customer spends from initial contact (whether phone, chat, etc.) to issue resolution. Similar to average wait time, average handle time includes wait time and time spent with an agent.
  • Call Wrap-Up Time: Once a customer issue is resolved, more often than not, an agent must spend some time entering notes or other tasks to close the issue.
  • Forecast Accuracy: Having the right number of agents at the right time is critical to operating efficiently. Regular call volume peaks and valleys are to be expected. The better you can predict these, the more efficient your call center will operate.

If you’re not clear on contact center metrics, whether how to measure them or what they mean, contact ASK for a free demo on how our analytics and reporting provides the information you need to accurately measure results.