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Chat Blog Industry Trends

2021 – Year of Online Opportunity

 
The future has been pulled forward – now every business is an online business

Consumer behaviour in 2020 changed dramatically, which was hardly unexpected as COVID spread worldwide. 75% of consumers have changed the way they purchase.

 

Source McKinsey

 

In June 2020 Deloitte surveyed 10,000 US online adults and found and 65% of these consumers state they will maintain online digital behind buying behaviour, post-crisis. 42% said they would not return to shopping in stores once stay-at-home-restrictions are lifted.  

The change in behaviour drove an unprecedented acceleration in the digital environment. The United States  experienced 10 years of e-commerce growth in three months and Australia five years in three months.

 

Sources: Shaw Spring Research, Bank of America, U.S. Department of Commerce. KPMG COVID-19: Retail’s survival and revival.

 

 

Chat2 has been operating in the online customer service space for the last six years and we have been observing the escalating trend of consumers taking more of their purchasing activity online due to improvements in technology. 

Now with the ‘quickening’ the changes we had observed gradually have hit warp-speed.

As respected global researcher McKinsey said;

“If you’re feeling whiplash, it might be the ten years forward we just jumped in 90 days’ time.” 

Digitalization, online ordering, remote delivery and remote working have become the new norm. Businesses need to recognize the changing online environment as exceptionally significant, and take action now to take advantage of the exceptional opportunity this presents online or be left behind. In this new online environment businesses need to look at new ways to reach customers. Why?

If they do, they will be able to take advantage of this unprecedented online behaviour and move ahead of the crowd in this very busy and noisy space. 

Brands need to act now and launch themselves head on escalating their digital capabilities, looking at how they reach their customers, communicate with customers throughout the sales journey during the decision-making through to final purchase and after sales. 

Those brands that are now winning are being more creative, more authentic, seeking help from the online experts, and implementing digital capability fast.

Consumers are demanding businesses to provide a first-class e-commerce experience with seamless digital service. 

Now some brands have turned to AI (artificial technology) to attain their goal, though this strategy needs to be carefully managed to be successful. From our experience online, consumers do not want to engage 100% with AI alone, they demand human interaction and assistance by a real person. 

98% of people try and bypass IVR (interactive voice response systems) in order to get to a human agent. The top three terms used are “representative”, “customer service”, and “live person”. Hubspot 2018 Customer Service Expectations 

Particularly in this time of crisis, we are interacting with online visitors every hour of every day who are demanding more reassurance in that it is safe to buy (e.g. checking refund and cancellation policies) and that it’s safe to visit (i.e. what hygiene practices are in place). 

Traditional brand loyalties can no longer be taken for granted as 36% of consumers are trying out new brands, as the business they previously used has not kept pace with new  consumer demands for availability, instantaneous service and seamless digital engagement. 

Millennials and Gen Z have been the widest adopters of contactless activities. Gen Z (1996 to 2012) are on their mobiles on average six hours a day researching before they shop (Reuters Institute and Flamingo Group).

As consumers are now spending more time online during their buying journey, this has created the demand for businesses to become more available online. Consumers demand businesses to respond in the same timeframe out of hours or on the weekend as they would during normal business hours.

 

Australia Post Consumer Survey, Jan- April 2020 and Chat2 clients

 

This has placed a huge stress on businesses [especially smaller ones] who need to offer longer operating hours to meet this demand.

In this “new normal” digital environment, businesses need to include a clear digital route to market and integrate customer contact into their capability. 

We have seen that the early adopters of a digital strategy have been able to provide effective customer service and enhanced operation, with an increase or maintenance of sales during the COVID-19 event. This is a clear advantage over their competitors.

The profound impact of this pandemic requires businesses to reevaluate how they do business and communicate with their customers. Businesses have to modernize their core operations which is uncomfortable for many, moving away from how they have always done business. 

Bold moves are needed to build and maintain resilience to survive. The most important move to consider is the enhancement of digital communication and being online in the space where and when your consumers. 

Chat2 has been assisting businesses worldwide from large corporations through to the single business operator. We help businesses stand out from the crowd in this noisy online space, by providing a 24/7 online presence with a team of “real people” providing reassurance, responses to questions, guiding online sales, sharing promotions or obtaining leads. 

As we have been working in this online space for six years and noticed the escalation in behaviour changed to the COVID-19 crisis, we are able to provide the guidance and assistance necessary to businesses to enhance their online digital capability and service to customers immediately. 

If you would like to find out more on how we do this, go to chat2.com where you will find short videos explaining what we do, you can book for a free demo with one of our consultants to give your business immediate digital capability and connection with your customers.

Businesses need to double down on digital in the ‘new normal’ and test new methods of customer engagement (yes we offer a free trial) especially in these times of unprecedented online traffic. 

We can escalate your digital consumer connection to enhance your personalisation of messages, provide real assurance, attract/convert more sales, assist with customer issues, obtain more leads, accelerate loyalty, enhance customer experience and communicate proactively with customers 24/7 for a fraction of the cost if you were to do it yourself. 

Book an online demo here to find out more today or register to join us for our first information session of the year “2021 – Year of Online Opportunity”.

Businesses need to act quickly to cash in on this unprecedented online consumer behaviour.

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Chat Blog Industry Trends

Was This Customer Right? You Be the Judge

The (shortened) news article below has created some debate online (what?!? that never happens!) and illustrates the growing chasm between customer expectations and behaviour, and the challenges businesses are faced with trying to meet them. 


People are online researching and shopping when it is convenient for them, which is often not during what is historically considered normal business hours.

We compared an Australia Post 2020 Consumer Survey, which analysed what time over 12,000 respondents shopped online, with data from the same period from our own Australian clients.

Although Chat2 Concierge clients’ customers displayed a similar pattern to the Australia Post data, there was an even larger number of people online from 10pm to 9am.

However, both show that approximately half of total customers were shopping online between 5pm to 9am. 

 

Which makes sense doesn’t it? Most people are working (either paid or unpaid) during normal business hours. The only time they have to research and shop online is often once the rest of their household is at rest.

We all know that attracting, serving and keeping customers happy are key to the survival of any business.  But are customers placing unrealistic expectations on businesses?

Or despite these expectations are businesses seriously impacting their profitability and longevity by effectively ignoring customers outside of their business hours?

While it appears (at the time of publishing) from a poll run by the news publication, there is a fairly even split of for and against, some of the comments below from Australian business owners and managers are interesting…






 

All of these commenters accept that receiving enquiries 24/7 is a fact of doing business in 2020, but there is a disparity in whether they think it is fair, or understandable due to different timezones and working lives, and how to manage it.

Some say they expect and welcome enquiries 24/7 because they understand that their customers have lifestyles different to their own and shouldn’t be forced to shop to their hours. Through to the other end of the spectrum where they say that customers wanting service outside of 9-5 (in the business’s timezone) are ‘selfish’ and ‘entitled’.

It would be interesting to see how these commentators’ businesses fare a few years from now…

Whether you agree or disagree, this type of customer service chasm will not be going away. 

However, there is a very simple, cost-effective way of keeping both parties happy, and therefore growing the tradesperson’s business.

By having Chat2 Concierge on the tradesperson’s website our team would have received the enquiry and responded to the potential customer’s enquiry in under 20 seconds – 24 hours a day.

By:

  • acknowledging the customer’s enquiry
  • engaging them to obtain as many details as possible
  • setting an expectation of when the business would be able to respond to them with a quote
  • then securing and passing on the qualified lead’s details

The tradesman would have slept through the night, rest-assured knowing that the business was still engaging potential customers and preventing them from bouncing to a competitor.

Instead, he responded angrily in the heat of the moment, causing the matter to be publicised on social media (200,000 engagements and counting) and leaving both parties dissatisfied.

We can guarantee that this businessperson certainly did lose that customer and who knows how many else?

Start your Chat2 Concierge trial now.

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Chat Blog Industry Trends

Tips for Maximising Online Revenue and Engagement at Christmas

Technology changes and the COVID pandemic have driven dramatic increases in online traffic.

Even if you don’t sell products or services online, we know that your customers will certainly be researching you online – and your competitors.

In June 2020 Deloitte surveyed US online adults and found:

In Australia, according to the NAB Online Retail Sales Index, online retail sales as at June 2020 accounted for 10.7% of total retail, up from 9% at the same time last year. This is reflected in the 53% average increase in Australia Post domestic parcel quantities for the months April to August 2020.

There has also been a 233% increase in Live Chats in the Consumer Products & Services industry compared to pre-COVID.

via GIPHY

While this may seem like a very welcome silver-lining to the COVID pandemic this sudden surge in online activity can actually be detrimental to your business if you aren’t prepared – particularly in the area of customer service.

In a survey of 10,000 consumers who had a bad customer service experience with a retailer…

But if you get customer service right the Harvard Business Review found that customers who had the best past experiences spend 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experience.

So in summary…

We know that Live Chat is the preferred method of communication for Millennials and has the highest satisfaction rate of all communication channels.

But that 53% of customers are likely to abandon their online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question.

Therefore it is critical that you prepare now and prepare well for the flood of online traffic that comes with the Christmas period.

Here are some tips that we provide to our Chat2 clients to drive better customer engagement and increased sales – 365 days of the year:

  • Update your Knowledge Base with common questions about special hours or closures, shipping timeframes, and returns – use this to update your website FAQs for SEO benefits.
  • Make sure your returns and shipping policies are clear and not too onerous.
  • Use an auto-responder to re-direct people who communicate with you by email and phone to Chat2 us on your website or Facebook Messenger (we do both!) for instantaneous service. Make sure the contact page of your website also invites visitors to chat.
  • Consider creating promotions, then tell us so we can share them with your online visitors and convert their visit into a sale.

Shopify asked over 50 online businesses to rank the effectiveness of 15 different holiday offers, deals, and discounts. The results were pretty clear cut as shown below.

To learn more about Maximising Online Revenue this Christmas, join Karen Lloyd-Collins, Chat2 COO, for a special 30-minute information session.

We use real, current data and examples from a range of industries to show you how Chat2 can drive your online sales and expand your sales funnel by generating more enquiries. Register here.

Or get started now with our amazing trial offer of 700 hours for just $30!

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Chat Blog How Fast is Fast Enough? Industry Trends

Customers Want Your Business Now!

How people engage online has dramatically changed due to technology, and further magnified by the events of 2020.

Do you remember Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory?

via GIPHY

One of the most dramatic shifts has been the immediacy of service demanded by customers.

According to a report by Hubspot 90% of customers rate an immediate response as important or very important when they have a customer service question. 60% of customers define immediate as 10 minutes or less!

With Chat2 Concierge you have the benefit of our service specialists assisting your online customers 24/7.

In fact our average response time is 15 seconds or less! 

Our clients are now redirecting traffic from their other channels such as email, telephone and contact forms back to their website to be assisted by our team.

Not only will your customers be happier and more loyal, but the amount of enquiries you and your staff have to respond to is also significantly reduced.

Chat2 Us now about we can maximise your online revenue and engagement.

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Chat Blog Industry Trends

4 Common Reasons Why Business Resists Live Chat

Does this sound familiar to you?  Over the past few decades the way we conduct business has changed substantially. Websites, email, social media, mobile sites, instant messaging, B2B marketing, SEO etc etc etc… We’ve all had to embrace these rapid technological shifts and many business tell me it’s one of their biggest challenges is keeping up with technology.

So what next?  Right now we are on the cusp of the next BIG tech change in the way we communicate with our prospects and customers.  

On a daily basis I am finding that businesses still hesitate to take that leap and offer live chat to their customers – who are ready, willing AND waiting to talk online!  Why? Let’s explore the top 4 reasons given by companies as to why its not the right time to implement chat.

At Chat2 we have discovered if you wait too long, it’s your competitor who embraces the chat channel and begins to attract all your online sales as well as their own. So it’s better if you can beat them to the post! In this age of technology where greater information power is with the online consumer, business should not wait to provide what online customers are demanding – instant communication!

When offering business this instant line of communication for their online clients – we hear so many reasons as to why it is not the right time to introduce a live chat channel. So we may say:

“Hey – we’re offering you the tools and the service to talk with your customers when they are at the door of your business.  They are in your website and you can talk to them while they are there, right in that moment of real time. You can ask them directly, ‘Can I help find you something?’ or  ‘May I ask what you are looking for?’ How does that sound?”

The response we receive from the business is commonly:

“Oh no – My customers will phone me, or use the contact form or email”;  or

“I am too busy at the moment to implement live chat”; or

“My website provides enough information to customers, so I don’t need chat; or

“The questions people ask on live chat is on my website – so they just need to read!”; or

“Oh – my website needs to be updated so live chat wouldn’t work for us”.

Can you relate to any of these? If you do then you are certainly not alone, as it is what we hear everyday.  I must admit chat is certainly a change to the way we are use to doing business. We have never had the opportunity before to give our customers the opportunity to engage immediately with us in real time through our website.  This has never been possible before. A website has always just been a billboard for business, with a humongous amount of information for the visitor to trawl through. Though the problem is visitors are not keen to do this anymore, particularly once they have experienced conversing in the live chat channel.  Wouldn’t you be more likely to make the sale if you could talk with them while they are on your website?

Of course, you can choose to keep that online virtual door tightly slammed shut to your online consumers.  Though if your competitor has chat and you don’t – which business (as a consumer) would you prefer to deal with?

Let’s look at the top 4 excuses reasons we hear every day and how they can be solved so your business won’t miss out on sales.

Reason One

“I prefer to get a customer on the phone as it is so much easier to convert.”

The phone and email is certainly the channels most businesses are most comfortable working with, as it has been the main tools available. Though with advances in online technology and more power being given to the consumer in obtaining information so readily, businesses need to move quickly to grow online into the future.  

Tools and technology are now available to meet high customer expectations for speed of information. Business should investigate and trial methods like chat to see the difference to their business. Consumers are becoming wary of being on hold on the phone or waiting hours for an email answer.  Live chat is a huge growth channel and businesses need to be onboard for the ride. According to Gartner – it is expected the chat channel will grow by 400% as a preferred customer digital engagement channel from 2015 – 2018.  With the predicted growth of this channel and the significant benefits it provides to businesses as well as customers, the chat channel should be embraced sooner rather than later!

Reason Two

“I am too busy at the moment to implement live chat.”

It’s so easy to implement!  The code takes 10 minutes to paste.  If you don’t have the staff to answer chats, the Chat2 Concierge team are here to get you started. We assist businesses to transition to chat by setting up chat, creating Frequently Asked Questions and Answers (FAQ’s), answering chats, transferring chats, providing training to staff and doing anything we can to ensure you are successful in your implementation.  We know what works and what doesn’t. You give up 20 minutes of your time to guide us in the setup and our team at Chat2 do the rest. We are an experienced team of professional chat operators and software developers. In no time you will be seeing more leads and sales coming through your website utilising the Chat2 channel.

Chat2 paid for itself after only one day. I had 3 chats in the first 10 minutes and one was a fabulous sale!”

Brenda – FNQ Apartments

Reason Three

“My website provides enough information to customers”

Or

“The answers to the questions people ask on chat are on the website – they just need to read!”

Consumer behaviour is changing rapidly online and gone are the days where a visitor will sit there and read pages on your website searching for information. If it is not clear to them at a quick glance of the first page or two – then they are likely to seek out a competitor.   So you may have a beautiful website with all the right information but customers want information now and easily accessed! Chat provides businesses with the tool to provide the relevant information fast and meet the customer expectations.  I say “Wow with the Now!”

Reason Four

“Oh – my website needs to be updated so live chat wouldn’t work for us”

Or

“We are going to implement a new website soon so we’ll put chat on then”

I ask you – “Will your website ever be completely up to date?” Our clients love chat as they know their online customers are receiving correct up-to-date information through chat daily. Visitors are regularly asking for clarification of information on websites and they will even pick up errors and bring those into chat. Hey we are all human – right!  Website visitors are now fine tuning our client’s websites for them. They are giving the business insight into what they want from the website and the information they are seeking. What great knowledge to obtain from your own prospects! Businesses can ensure this information is front and centre on their website.

Recently, we have introduced a new product called Chatsites – which is a one page website – fully interactive! On the Chatsite you have the basic company information about what you do and the chat box.  The chat software can be teamed with our Chat2 concierge service and/or Chatbot. So having an antiquated website is no longer an excuse not to have chat!

Chat2 has also assisted clients transition from an old website to a new website.  One of our clients had massive traffic with over 3000 visitors a day and when the new website went live our Chat2 team were there to virtually hold the hand of each visitor who experienced any sales, login or information issues.  The transition went exceptionally smoothly, it was the busiest month ever in chat and most importantly though no sales were lost and every enquiry was attended to in the Now!

Don’t miss out on those website visitors banging on your website door wanting answers now!

Can we help to transition your business into chat?  We are experienced in chatting with online visitors over various industries from online retail, tourism, real estate, hotels through to diving, financial, recruitment and printing businesses.

We do all the set up for you, we can chat for you, provide you with the leads, we can fully customise the look of chat, create chatbots on Facebook and/or for your website, create a chatsite, integrate with google analytics or other software. Just ask our team – visit www.chat2.com and have a chat with the team or get started straight away on the link below with Chat2 Concierge.

If you would like to learn more about our Chat2 Concierge team and what we do – there is a short video here. Who is the Chat2 Concierge Team

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Chat Blog Industry Trends Live Chat - Tips and Tricks

Does Live Chat Really Work?

Written By:  Karen Lloyd-Collins CEO Chat2

One of the most typical questions we are asked at Chat2 is:

“Does Live Chat Really Work?”

We speak with many companies every day who are hesitant to try chat software and tell us:

“My customers are happy to contact me by phone, contact form or email”;  or

“I am too busy at the moment to implement live chat”; or

“My website provides enough information to customers; or

“The questions people ask on live chat is on my website – so they just need to read!”; or

“Oh – my website needs to be updated so live chat wouldn’t work for us”.

Can you relate to any of these? If you do – you are certainly not alone, as it is what we hear everyday.  So let’s look at why live chat is currently a channel that needs to be evaluated for any business.

Technology is giving the power of information to your customer, so if they are not getting what they want from your website they will just go elsewhere.  Customer behaviour online is changing rapidly, so let me share with you what is happening.

 

What do Customers think of Chat?

Did you know that live chat is now becoming the preferred contact channel of choice by clients?  I am not just saying that as an industry specialist, as according to Forbes, 92% of customers now prefer to use live chat to communicate with businesses (Forbes 2017), compared to other channels.

Since 2015, I have noticed a dramatic change in responses from prospects when asked:

“Would you be interested in trying Chat2 – its a live chat channel where you can connect with customers straight away at the same time they are on your website?”

I would commonly hear answers like:

“Oh, you mean – that annoying little pop up window – I close it straight away!”

Now 3 years later – I hear:

“I seek out websites now with a live chat option”; or

“I love live chat – I get all the answers I want straight away without having to search the website.”

This change in attitude is what is being reflected in industry research.

The main reason for the growing popularity of the chat channel is in regards to time. Customer behaviour online is evolving.  Customers are now demanding faster, more instant responses from businesses (Check out our blog on How Fast is Fast Enough?).  There is a huge chasm between the response times provided by businesses compared to customer expectations.  Live chat software is providing the tool to businesses to meet this challenge. According to research by (Econsultancy.com) 79% said they got their questions answered quickly with live chat and 46% agreed live chat was the most efficient communication method (Econsultancy.com). Other reasons as to why chat is becoming a preferred communication channel with online visitors are listed below.

https://econsultancy.com/blog/10644-stats-do-consumers-appreciate-live-chat-on-websites

So if a customer is feeling more satisfied with the method they are using to communicate with a business, it makes sense that they are more likely to connect regularly, establishing a relationship, increasing engagement, building trust and eventually buying.  Chat software, used well, converts browsers to buyers!

“Chat Converts Browsers to Buyers”

This has been our experience at Chat2.  

Sunlover Reef Cruises, a client since 2016, use our Chat2 Concierge Service.  The number of chats they now receive each month has more than doubled compared to the previous year.  So we have seen first hand how successful the Chat2 channel is with this incredible growth.

Other clients like The Energy Hub Australia have commented:

“Our sales have increased by 50% since the implementation of Chat2”.

Salary Packaging Australia advised that:

“50% of the enquiries we receive from Chat2 are genuine sales and leads enquiries, this is much higher than we expected!”

If implemented well, the live chat channel has the capacity to create great results… though businesses are hesitant to implement.  I believe there is this huge divide between how customers want to communicate with businesses and what businesses are actually providing for their customers to connect with them.  How well do you really know your customers? Simply trying a live chat channel is only going to be of benefit…. and it can only produce results. You won’t lose customers trialing live chat as you are more likely to gain new ones.

Let’s have a look at who a chat visitor is and how they any different to the customer who comes into a business via the phone or email?

 

“I believe there is this huge divide between how customers want to communicate with businesses to what businesses provide for customers to connect with them.”

Karen Lloyd-Collins – CEO – Chat2

 

Who is the Chat Customer?

There are two main types of chat clients – ones that are already customers or ones still in the research/investigative stage of the sales process. It is the latter type of chat customer that a business never may attract without offering the chat channel.

Those customers that come into chat, that are already customers, will just love you more as you are now offering a faster, easier way for them to ask questions and get immediate answers through chat. You have now automatically increased their loyalty to you. Past customers coming into the chat channel are normally looking for information for another purchase and/or support.

The other type of chat client is the “website bouncer”, they are in the early stage of the sales funnel, researching and investigating what companies are offering and are bouncing from website to website. The browsing investigative prowler! They are looking for the best offers, sales, what may meet their needs, has the best value and customer service.  So as they bounce into your website – your chat invitation pops up offering them assistance.

They stop for a sec……. You have captured their attention for a few brief seconds……

Sure they may bounce on but many think..…..”oh I can ask my questions and save time from having to browse all these websites.  I can get all my questions answered in one spot!”

Those that bounce on…. may still bounce back to your website and see the invitation again… this time they think about how much quicker it will be to just ask questions here without having to read about what all the other companies are offering. This is a very common scenario in our experience and we note that it is normally the second or third visit to the website before the visitor engages in a chat.  

Chat increases the opportunity to attract more leads/enquiries into a business. The sales funnel is being widened with the offer of a chat channel. You are capturing potential leads/prospects that may never have engaged without the chat opportunity.  See our blog on widening the sales funnel with chat.

With Chat you are now a STAND OUT online.  You have captured the visitor’s attention and this is likely to reduce the bounce rate to your website.  Once you have captured their attention, the next step is to engage them into chat.  If your chat is set up effectively, then engaging into a chat is easy.

So back to the original question – Does Live Chat Really Work?

So far we have shown:

  • Customers are preferring the chat channel as its fast, easy and convenient;
  • Businesses are picking up more leads/enquiries by offering chat;
  • Genuine lead enquiries are received through chat; and
  • Customers are seeing a boost in sales with the increase in number of enquiries via chat.

So why all the hesitation and objection to trialing the live chat channel? We address each of the comments and objections mentioned earlier in part 2 of this blog to be published next week.  

If you are an online website that sells your products and service online – then having chat on your website is a no brainer.

Did you know that 53% of online buyers are likely to abandon their online purchases.

According to Forrester research, “53 percent of US online adults are very likely to abandon their online purchase if they cannot find a quick answer to their question.”  This reason alone is why companies should have live chat offered as an option. The loss of 50% of your sales when a customer reaches checkout – is serious business!

According to Gartner – it is expected the chat channel will grow by 400% as a preferred customer digital engagement channel from 2015 – 2018.  So in light of this research and the experience we are seeing at Chat2 – you need to answer those customers banging on your website door!

Start today

Click on a link below to start your trial of Chat2 software.

Chat2 Software – 30 day free trial with complimentary setup of the Chat2 Software.

If you would like to learn more about our Chat2 Concierge team and what we do – here is a short video on this service. Who is the Chat2 Concierge Team

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Chat Blog How Fast is Fast Enough? Industry Trends Live Chat - Tips and Tricks

How Fast is Fast Enough?

 

Did you know many businesses are not responding fast enough for their customers? Many businesses don’t realise their response rates are not meeting their customer expectations. Client expectations to get a response from a business are becoming demanding and placing significant pressure on business resources.   So what is the response time customers expect from a business by phone, email, social media and chat? What can businesses do to improve response times?

The three main channels for communicating with clients are email, phone and social media, though the use of chat software has seen significant growth of 8.3% internationally in 2017 (smallbiztrends.com).  Chat as a channel is providing instant feedback to businesses if they are not performing to meet customer expectations.  

How – you may ask?

In those first couple of weeks of using chat software, a business may be bombarded with questions like:

“I emailed you yesterday and I have not heard back from you?”

“Did you receive my order – I placed it 2 hours ago?”

“I left a message on Facebook and no one has responded – it has been 3 hours?”

“I tried to phone you and was on hold for 5 minutes and no one answered my call?”

Does this sound familiar?  Sometimes you are not even aware of this tension that exists within your customer group. Many of our business clients who experience this are surprised to see these initial comments coming through chat, highlighting an issue they were not aware of. It is easy to rectify this situation quickly.

So why are customers demanding more instant responses?  It is a trend being seen worldwide. Customers are demanding more immediacy for a response. Information is so easily accessible over the internet, customers are now expecting demanding that businesses should reply to enquiries just as quickly – this is putting significant pressure on business resources.

So Why is Speed so Important in Customer Service?

When you receive a fast response – doesn’t it make you feel like the business cares about your needs and they make you feel important?

Many businesses can respond faster than ever before with the new technology available, so speed is becoming an issue of competitiveness between businesses. For example, a customer exploring the purchase of a new car online may ask two suppliers about the delivery of the car.  The first car yard responds in 30 minutes, engages the customer, organises a test drive and while a price is being negotiated, the second car yard responds 24 hours later. From our experience, the supplier who responds in a friendly, prompt and professional manner is more likely to make the sale, than the company that replies in 24 hours to a few days  – which is still very commonplace.

In a study conducted by the CMO Council in 2017 – it was found that 47% of U.S. and European consumers surveyed said they will abandon a brand if it repeatedly provides “poor, impersonal or frustrating” customer experiences. Companies need to be prioritising excellence in customer service.  If companies provide easy access and fast responses to questions, then this will result in happy satisfied customers upon which will nurture business growth.

More than 52% of consumers stated that an exceptional customer experience included a fast response time to problems and suggestions, with 47% stating a great customer experience includes instant access to knowledgeable sales staff 24/7 (CMO Council Study).

The CMO study revealed that even though loyal consumers will leave a brand if they’re not treated well, it also highlighlighted that consumers are seeking connection, not perfection and maybe forgiving as long as they feel heard and valued. So as long as they are responded to quickly and effectively – customers will easily be retained and will continue doing business with you.

Many businesses don’t realise customers are quickly abandoning them for the next business that acts quickly and responds with immediacy to client questions.  Is this happening to you? Is your response rate meeting your customer expectations?

“The customer is smarter than ever when it comes to customer service. They don’t just compare you to your competitor, but to any company that delivers an excellent customer service experience. The bar has been raised, and companies must work harder to meet and exceed their customer’s expectations.”

Shep Hyken

Customer Service Expert & New York Times Bestselling Author

Attracting, serving and keeping customers happy are the key to survival for any business.  If customers are not happy it is unlikely the business will survive. But are customers placing unrealistic expectations on businesses?  How can businesses survive in this demanding customer-driven environment? What are the response times customers are demanding?

Let’s consider what current studies are showing us.  What are the benchmarks for response times in the four main communication channels – email, phone, social media and chat.

Email Response Time

When do customers expect a response from a business after they have sent an email?

In a survey of 1200 consumers undertaken in April 2018, it was recommended that businesses should aim to respond to customers within 1 hour or if wanting to achieve a world class standard, within 15 minutes.

“That is crazy” or “That is unrealistic”- you may be thinking!

Yes – it is a huge ask of businesses, though it is achievable.  

The results from the survey showed that 43% expected businesses to reply in a 1 day to an email.

So if your business responded to customer emails within 1 hour, it would stand out from the crowd and exceed the expectations of 89% of consumers! Of course, if you responded in 15 minutes – well that is world class, as you would meet or exceed consumer expectations with 100%.

In another 2018 survey, Superoffice.com surveyed 1000 companies by email asking two questions:

  • Where is the pricing information on the website?
  • What was their phone number?

An incredible 62% of companies did not even respond and only 20% answered the questions in the first reply.  

The gap between the response time consumers expect and what businesses do –  is seriously damaging. You have the opportunity to stand out from 62% of companies by just responding to the email in the first instance!  This is easily done through implementing email autoresponders backed up by a solid CRM. Even by acknowledging that you have received the customers’ question / issue / complaint goes a long way towards keeping your customers happy.

So is there any difference for social media response times?

Social Media Response Time

So what about social media? Are expectations higher? Do customers expect faster response times in this channel and if so, how much faster?

The Social Habit research company explored this issue with its audience and discovered 32% expected a response within 30 minutes and 42% expected a response within 60 minutes. So if you responded to social media enquiries within 30 minutes you will be meeting or exceeding 74% of your customer expectations!  Sounds easy right! But can your company respond to enquiries in under 30 minutes? Responding to an email in under 1 hour is tough, though responding to a social media enquiry within 30 minutes is pushing the capability for many businesses.

But…… there are many companies meeting this expectation easily with the available technology.  Responding to customers in under 30 minutes is a big ask for many businesses, though serious consideration is needed by businesses to connect with customers in social media.  New practices/tools need to be adopted to meet customer expectations, otherwise you will have disillusioned customers looking to other businesses for service that meets their expectations.

We are now working in a global environment where consumers can access products and services from anywhere, at anytime.  It is technology that is giving consumers the power to demand more immediate responses. So is the expectation growing that no matter what time of the day, night or weekend it is – consumers are expecting an answer?

It appears they are!

The findings from the Social Habit Research Company found that 57% of survey participants expected the same response time at night or on weekends as during normal business hours. It’s getting crazy!

So is it any different for phone response times?

Phone Response Time

Phoning a business should result in a fairly quick response, though many businesses still think its ok to have their prospects/customers on hold for a few minutes listening to recorded messages or music before they are answered.  No one likes being placed on hold on the phone, though previously, customers felt they had no choice. Businesses will lose customers rapidly if they don’t adapt to consumer demand for rapid replies, it is fast becoming unacceptable to keep a customer waiting on the phone.  So how long is a customer willing to wait on a phone?

A 2017 survey of 1500 Consumers in the U.S. found that nearly two-thirds were only willing to wait 2 minutes or less before hanging up and 13% stated that no hold time was acceptable.  This is a stark contrast to a similar survey in 2014 where customers were willing to hold for 13 minutes! Consumer expectations are changing and businesses are slow in adapting to this change.

So how big is this gap in the speed of response by companies to what the customer expects, in the three big communication channels?  It is a huge, yawning chasm and to remain competitive businesses need to act now!

So What About Live Chat Software?

 

Chat software is a relatively new technology available to businesses and a different way to connect with customers. Some businesses are hesitant to try chat as they see it as a high-pressure channel, where consumers expect answers immediately and rarely wait around for an answer. Though this technology gives the business the ability to respond quickly to enquiries and that is what customers are demanding. Chat is worthy of serious consideration as it gives the power to businesses to alleviate the pressure on all communication channels and at the same time exceeding customer expectations for a response time. Let me explain how.

Offering chat on a website can reduce phone calls and emails for a business, even boosting sales by attracting clients that would not normally reach out.  So in the first instance, it will alleviate the pressure on the two big incoming channels, phone and email for customer enquiries. More and more consumers are gravitating towards instant messaging channels like chat, so they are becoming more likely to choose chat for a faster response and generally it is the platform they are already on reviewing the business – so the choice for reaching out is easy.

So how fast is the response time in chat?

The 2018 Live Chat Benchmark Report prepared by Comm100 reviewed 40 million chats from companies all over the world representing 13 industries and found that the average response time using chat software is 37 seconds!  This is 8 seconds faster than their finding of 45 seconds in 2016.

With the shift for communication moving away from phone and email, towards instant response platforms like chat, business can respond to enquiries much faster than the current response times in phone and email.  As chat integrates with social media it also provides the ability to respond to social media enquiries, well within the customer expectation of 30 minutes.

“So we’re no longer measuring response time in days and hours but seconds.”

Karen Lloyd-Collins – CEO Chat2

With effective implementation of chat, a company can meet or even exceed the response rate in all channels, as 37 seconds is well above customer expectations for phone and email.  This is world-class customer service

How to Implement Chat Effectively

What is meant by effective implementation of Chat?

Effective implementation of live chat is the key to attain this exceptional level of response time and requires adequate resourcing, streamlining chat into everyday work processes, training of staff and a commitment by management to chat.  If a customer’s experience of chat is that it is fast, with quick relevant responses, then this will become the channel of choice to connect with a business. The business is likely to see more returning customers due to this world-class service experience.

One of the challenges to implementing chat is having knowledgeable, trained staff on hand to instantly answer chats, particularly in the peak demand periods.  When Chat2 was launched in 2015, we saw first-hand businesses struggling with integrating chat into their daily work processes. Their staff were already busy, so transitioning into providing a chat service was challenging.

Chat2 launched its Concierge Service in 2016 to overcome this challenge and to assist businesses transitioning into offering chat as a service. The Chat2 Concierge Service offers businesses a team of experienced, professional, highly trained chat agents that answer chats 24/7.  Each industry is allocated a specialised team so the members of the team are knowledgeable on the issues and questions received by customers in that industry. With the assistance of artificial intelligence (AI) built into the Chat2 software, agents can easily and quickly respond to client requests for businesses.

Once consumer behaviour changes and consumers embrace chat over other communication channels, businesses discover there is less pressure on the other channels of phone, email and social media. In some instances, they embrace the channel and train their own staff in chat to answer transferred chats from the concierge team or answer chats directly from clients.

One of the first questions we are asked when a business enquires about the Chat2 Concierge Service is:

“How will your chat agents know what to say to my clients – you don’t know my business?”

So true – which is why we request new clients to complete a simple online form, so the team can find out more about the business and what the business would like to achieve using the concierge service.  We create answers to likely questions we are expecting from customers in that industry, as we are already familiar with the questions that are being asked. These questions and answers are entered into the chat software for the business or concierge team, so we are all saying the same thing to clients.  A great knowledge base is created, that can also be utilised when you need to train new staff. As a part of the Chat2 Concierge Service, this knowledge base is updated continuously. If there is a question the team can’t answer, we seek the answer from the business, to upload answer for next time.

The Chat2 Concierge team employ highly successful techniques to engage new visitors to your business and welcome returning visitors.  Our chat agents provide prompt, polite and personalised customer service which is paramount to representing your brand. We monitor and report on our performance by the second, which means our chat agents are some of the most responsive in the business. The concierge team have an average response rate of 18 seconds, with generally most chats answered in under 30 seconds.

“Chat is providing a huge opportunity for businesses to provide world-class service. At Chat2, we are answering chats for businesses within 30 seconds, with an average response time of 18 seconds”

Karen Lloyd-Collins – CEO Chat2

Our clients are attaining world-class response rates and alleviating the pressure on other communication channels.  They are standing out from their competition as they are now exceeding the response times customers are demanding. Chat2 Concierge can provide the resources for those periods of peak demands with an incredible return on investment. Many of our clients who have trialled the concierge service are still using the service since our launch, as the conversion rates on chat are improving all the time as the team works in partnership with our business clients.

We invite you to view a short 2 minute video on the Chat2 concierge service and how the team are converting 80 – 90% of chats for business internationally!

We welcome any questions through chat about our services, including chat integration, customisation, staff training, chatbots, FAQ creation and more.  Our Chat2 Concierge Service is also offered to businesses committed to other chat software. Visit us at www.chat2.com