Have you ever needed a question answered or a problem resolved when you made a purchase and you sat for hours on hold trying to get help? Chances are that you have! Chances are also that you ended your experience feeling frustrated and with your needs unmet. While phone support is a tried and true method, as it’s been around since the 1960s, several companies have turned to using more technologically savvy ways to provide customer support in a more timely manner to help alienate this problem. Many companies understand the importance of being able to meet customer needs in real time. In fact, Salesforce shares that 64% of customers want to shop with companies that can meet their needs in real-time. Therefore, it’s critical for companies to use channels that allow customers to get questions answered fast with up to date support services.
Common Customer Support Services
Here are some common support channels used to do just that:
- Frequently asked questions on web pages
- Forums and message boards on their website
- Self-serve knowledge bases
- Social networks
- Live chats
While these are common channels, it does not mean that they should all be used by every company. The channels used should depend on a variety of factors such as the demographics and psychographics of your customers as well as the resources available within the business to support the use of these channels.
Two channels that have become overwhelmingly popular in the last 5 years are chatbots and live chats. This is the result of many millennials, who are historically known for favoring support services that don’t require the use of a phone, becoming the most prevalent consumers for many brands. Even if millennials are your largest audience, this does not mean that you should automatically use a chatbot or live chat to support your customers. Before we dive into why let’s look at the difference between the two.
Chatbots vs Live Chat
While both chatbots and live chats are features that offer instant messaging on a company’s website, they are very different.
A chatbot offers instantaneous responses that are automatically sent via a bot based on the questions a user asks or the way they answer the bot’s questions. These responses are programmed ahead of time by the company and are typically used for more general questions or problems.
A live chat also allows for instantaneous responses but that is not always the case as a live person has to be available to generate the response. Because live chat requires an interaction between two live people, the response time can take longer as support personnel may not be available immediately. It also allows for the person to be more empathetic to the situation than a bot can be and to provide more customized support.
While live chat can be very advantageous, it’s important to know that there are instances where you shouldn’t use live chat support services.
When You Shouldn’t Use Live Chat
- You should not use live chat if a live person is not available. This may sound odd, however, live chat as the option to be turned on but have an away message once the person asks a question. This is like having a call schedule with someone only to call and get their voicemail.
- If you have a highly charged emotional issue that requires customer support. For instance, if someone needs to cancel insurance due to the death of a loved one, live chat should not be the channel offered to do so.
- When multiple service infractions have already occurred. Your CRM should tell you whether or not the person contacting you has had previous issues. If so, it’s important to take that into consideration and not offer live chat. Instead, consider using phone support. Phone support allows for an even more customized, empathetic approach than live chat.
Before deciding if chat support services are right for your business, look at the journey the customer is taking to help you decide. If you do decide to use live chat, be sure that the agent is always ready to provide a phone number to be able to directly contact a person when the question isn’t answered. The customer should also be provided with a time that an agent will be reaching out to them. Your top priority is to avoid providing bad customer service, as the cost of bad service is extensive.