About ten years ago, live chat was a quirky yet clunky option for consumers who needed assistance from B2C brands. It’s only since about 2015 that businesses and consumers have widely accepted this form of communication.
Live chat software dates back to the early 2000s with the launch of multiple online helpdesks like Zendesk, Freshdesk, and Zoho, but the live chat functionality that we are familiar with today sprung to life in 2009 when Olark introduced live chat that stayed on-page (versus the pop-up box that was previously used).
Today, there are plenty of live chat options to choose from. The functionality you require depends on the type of business you are. B2B businesses typically receive most of their queries Monday through Friday from about 8 am to 6 pm- which has been the case for many years albeit through phone calls and fax machines (remember them?).
Where the explosion of live chat activity has occurred is in B2C. And it makes sense, doesn’t it? Think about your shopping patterns as a consumer- is the activity confined to lunch and after work hours? Probably. The same applies to your customers if you are a consumer-facing business…ESPECIALLY for e-commerce.
What Should I Consider With Live Chat?
Like every other sound business decision, you need to assess the needs of your customer base before subscribing to a service.
- What is your customer persona?
- When do they have time to search for a business like yours?
- Is your target audience technically savvy?
- Are you in a highly regulated industry, where live chat needs compliance expertise to manage communications?
- When does your online traffic peak?
- What is the user journey your typical customer takes before making a purchase?
- Are there common FAQ’s and what are they?
- Do I have enough staff available to answer customer questions when they are online?
- What is the lifetime value of my customer?
- Is there a typical ‘cooling-off’ period for your customer base?
- Do customers turn to social media to ask questions or make comments about your business?
No two customers are ever the same, but you should identify common traits of the people who are purchasing your product or service and create a customer persona. Then, be sure to speak their language.
The BBC went through the trouble of determining when people were online most. It may come as no surprise that shoppers were online after working hours. What may come as a shocker is what time a large proportion of consumers are consuming online, though.
As the John Lewis Partnership Card report found, here are a few stats to be mindful of:
- One in 15 purchases are made between the hours of midnight and 06:00
- The number of purchases made in this period rose by 23% in 2018, compared with 2017.
- When shows like ‘Love Island’ air, customers aged 18-24 are most active on the website ‘I Saw It First’ searching dresses and tops
- Currys PC World told the BBC that traffic to its website usually peaks between 20:00 – 22:00 on weekday nights. But in the last year, there has been a 10% increase in customers shopping between 22:00 and 03:00.
- Electronics product categories that received the most traffic included PC gaming hardware, PC components, and gaming accessories
Another report on live chat trends from Talkative UK shared even more insight:
- 50% of online retailers have integrated a chat solution for customer interactions
- 23% relying on automated chatbots to respond to queries 24/7
- 76% of retailers have adopted human-empowered live webchat
- 34% of the retailers researched offer live web chat seven days a week
- 34% of online retailers offer live webchat on their home pages, 26%- on their ‘Help’ page and39% meet customers queries on the product pages.
These stats are representative of two key industry trends: retailers adaptation to the online behaviour of their customers, and the shift towards more intelligent, data-driven customer service that aims to provide information, build loyalty, and create seamless experiences.
To illustrate the need for live chat is the premiere episode of hit TV reality show ‘Breaking Fashion‘ about the darling of UK’s fast-fashion scene, In The Style. Social media influencer Lorna Luxe is preparing for a launch of her new summer range, but samples from the supplier have not arrived when expected. The team frantically try to reach the supplier through their customer service and live chat, to no avail. The customer support line rings out and disconnects the caller, and the problem is compacted when there is no live chat available. Certainly damaging to a brand’s reputation- mainly since options are readily available.
How to Outsource Live Chat
The CS managed services offered by ActiveWin can help keep the cost of customer support down while improving engagement and user experience by having a live chat available to consumers when they are most likely to engage. The features and benefits of outsourcing to ActiveWin’s service are aplenty-
- Coverage 365 days a year including bank holidays
- Extra 8 hours coverage a day (compared to regular hours of service)
- Key learnings of the customer journey are gathered through the process
- Relationship building with potential customers as well as enhanced customer engagement
- Handling customer queries with immediate resolution improve satisfaction and Trustpilot ratings
- Valuable data collection which will help the customer engage with future offers
- Identify areas of your website that are generating the most questions to understand where customers are getting ‘stuck’ in their purchase journey
- There is a higher conversion rate for after-hours purchases
- Average response time 7 seconds
- Optional “Push” chat facility
- Average speed to answer 5 seconds
- Average response time 59 seconds
- Average chat duration 4 minutes 30 seconds
- Customer satisfaction rating – 87.5% chats rated as excellent
Live chat is only one of the components for customer satisfaction and engagement, but it is often the most critical in terms of getting or keeping a customer. CRM is also a key element in overall customer communication strategies. Many businesses have scaled back on email because of fear of violating GDPR. On top of that, the latest IOS update is out- IOS13. The best choice is to outsource to experts. Why? Here’s how this new OS is impacting CRM and customer UX.
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How Is the Latest IOS Update Impacting CRM
GPS tracking– customers now have the option to select “allow once,” when being asked whether an app can access your location, as opposed to “allow” or “don’t,” meaning apps cannot merely track a users location whenever they want. The OS will also tell people how many times an app had accessed their location and show a map of when the location was tracked. Location access is mandatory for some industries and apps, such as the gambling industry, due to geographical restrictions. It will be interesting to see whether this could affect the number of overall app downloads- something we’ll be watching.
Sign in with Apple– Apps that use a third-party login or social service ( e.g., sign in with Google/ Twitter/ Facebook, etc.) are now required to provide “Sign in with Apple” as an option. If you choose to “sign in with Apple,” they will give the app a randomised email address; keeping consumer PII away from the app entirely. This will have an impact on being able to contact a customer via email and SMS. It’s worth monitoring the “delivered” numbers per outbound communication to see the effect this will have on your contactable customer base
Silence unknown caller –You can now change call settings so that unknown numbers don’t even ring. For those using telemarketing/ outbound dialing, they should already be displaying a number when calling customers (known as Calling Line Identification)- this will only penalise those not following Ofcom’s guidelines.
Dark mode– When installing IOS, installers are asked to select either Light or Dark mode. This has always been an option buried deep within the settings but is now a decision they have to make before going any further through the setup. The main takeaway is that the coding in HTML emails will not be impacted by dark mode; it will only affect plain text/ personal emails.
However, particularly colourful emails may now appear jarring in dark mode, so it’s essential to test all emails, especially new designs and colours, or receivers may delete your email. What is interesting is you can target email clients that are set to Dark Mode by using the @media query within your CSS, meaning you can optimise the colours your customers will see. Whether this becomes part of your standard email code will differ widely and depend on how prevalent Dark Mode becomes in general. For most, we suggest testing emails on both modes and tweaking to ensure it looks good, regardless of the mode customers adopt.
Apps built with Xcode 10 will display as usual, even if devices are in Dark Mode. For your app to support Dark Mode, it must have been created and released with Xcode 11, and it must run on IOS13. If you’re set to dark mode on IOS 12, you will not see the different versions. The dark mode is also coming to browsers, but this appears to be moving a bit slower. No one knows how popular Dark Mode will become or how much of an impact is has on email, app, and web design. For now, test whatever you’re designing across both modes and adapt accordingly, to ensure you’re giving customers the best experience possible.
There are a few bug and security updates, but these are the important ones that could affect how your customers engage with your brand- from app downloads and web visits, through to engagement with your outbound communications.