Pro-active Chat: Profitable Customer Communication via the Web

Posted by Andreas Klug on Oct 24, 2012 6:01:00 AM
Andreas Klug

In the smart phone and mobile internet age, service communication between organisations and their customers is no longer limited to the telephone.

Quick questions and answers via chat windows or web self service applications continue to gain importance. But what added value does the virtual service interaction offer?

Search, compare, buy and evaluate: this year online sales are estimated to hit around £57.39 billion in the UK alone, an increase of around 14% on 2011. According to the Centre for Retail Research, last year the UK had the highest online share of retail trade in Europe with 12%, followed by Germany (9%) and Switzerland (8.7%).

More and more organisations are looking at ways to make their online customer communication more interactive, and optimise their customer service expertise. A true multi-channel customer service has to be able to negotiate from telephone to the virtual world of the internet.

In Germany, for example, almost one third of all customer service interactions now take place online. A leading direct insurance company, Cosmos, for instance, offers chat and live customer support: a customer with a query receives a ‘fill-in help via co-browsing’ option from a Cosmos customer service advisor enabling them to view offers online and calculate insurance premiums together.

Consumer behaviour has changed considerably in the past two years due to the availability of mobile internet that makes time and location immaterial. People shop while on the go, at the weekend or in the middle of the night.
Millions of smart phones and tablet PCs offer easy access wherever you are.

Of all worldwide online activities, the most popular are email (95%), followed by research and purchase of online products (62% respectively). An organisation’s internet presence is therefore the ideal place to engage with visitors interactively, and help them find relevant information to assist them with their purchase. But how can organisations use this customer service channel efficiently and profitably?

Software provider ITyX has published a practical check list to help answer this question. Entitled 'Service Chat & 'Service Chat & Co-Browsing: 5 Tips for profitable Customer Experiences’, the specialist for automation of service processes provides insight into the suitable design of chat applications and advice on selection of effective strategies when using chat applications.

One of the options highlighted in the check list, is to offer chat dialogue pro-actively to those visitors who are clearly looking for answers, or to those that are struggling during online service transactions. When using this type of ‘pro-active chat’, the internet customer receives a message saying for example, “Can I help you?” This kind of service is what a customer would receive in our traditional brick and mortar business.

"A pro-active advice chat provides an excellent opportunity to replicate the service ethics of an organisation in the virtual world of its internet site”, explains Süleyman Arayan, ITyX founder and CEO. The interactive service influences the service quality experience of the digital offer, and subsequently the purchase decision of the online visitor. "In a real-life application, a pro-active advice chat with co-browsing functionality increases the lead to sale ratio for an online product – i.e. the proportion of successful purchase transactions based on the visitors of an offer – by up to 400 percent.”

"In the coming years, intelligent service design will play an important role during convergence of traditional customer service and the internet,“ comments Walter Benedikt, managing director of contact centre service provider, 3C Dialog. However, the offer of a quick chat contact should not only be limited to the prospect of increased sales and cost reductions. "In times of increased interchangeability of products and services, the opening of the internet channel is an important investment for the future of call centres.“