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Getting Your Company on Board with Chat

Everything evolves.  Everything changes.  Mobile phones went from bulky items you had to carry in a mini suitcase to handheld items that you can just about plan your life with.  Eight track tapes shrunk to MP3s.  Basketball shorts when from tight to too long to just about right. Everything moves forward with the times. 

Even our communications have changed.  It started with the US Postal Service (snail mail) and went to the telephone.  The telephone gave way to email.  Email gave way to text messaging and chat.  But if it’s just a natural progression to chat, why is it so hard to build a case for senior leadership to get on board?

I think that the perception of chat keeps decision makers from taking it seriously.  When you mention chat or instant messaging, you can see eyes rolling in the back of their heads and chuckles as they envision two love struck teenagers typing as fast as they can about how much they miss each other.  I mean, how seriously can you take a business application that allows you to insert a smiley face?

Very seriously.

Customers expect you to conform to their communication channels, not the other way around.  In order to get chat up and running in your company, you may have to go before the senior leadership team and be prepared to state your case.  The following will help you build your case for implementing a chat channel.

Address Concerns Early and Often – The first step is to discover and understand any reservations.   In my experience, many see chat as a passing fad or something like texting that only teenagers use to communicate.   You will get responses ranging from chat being a kid’s toy to “that pop up thing that lets me keep up with old friends.”  Others see the “chat jargon” their children and grandchildren use (omg, u wnt 2 do whut?) and cringe thinking that’s the way their workforce will now communicate with customers.  All of these can be addressed with the proper research and training plans, but only if you know what they are.  The only way you will be able to get around their concerns is meet them head on.

Emphasize That Chat Offers The Best Of Both Worlds – With chat you get a real time conversation with a written script that you can access and send to customers later if needed.  This is a great advantage if there are discrepancies between the company’s and the customer’s recollection of what happened.  Chats can be easily saved and emailed to customers, which can help build credibility and trust.

Explain How Chat Fits Today’s Customer – Everyone is “on the go”, that’s no secret.  When we’re not “on the go”, we’re juggling multiple things at once to make up the time.    Chat matches today’s customer because it can be mobile via a smart phone application, or allow customers to multitask and not be tied to a phone line.  It’s also safe if customers are out and communicating via their mobile device because it’s a discrete way to get things done ; no one can ease drop on your conversation and know what you are talking about because you can let your fingers do the talking while continuing to conduct business as normal. 

Chat Can Help The Company’s Bottom Line – Using chat helps to reduce 800-number and phone related costs because it all takes place over the company’s network.  Also, chat allows representatives to multitask, reducing the overall headcount you need. Chat doesn’t have to be a one-to-one interaction.  It isn’t uncommon to have one representative handling multiple chat sessions simultaneously, moving from session to session as questions are asked or new information is needed. 

Changing the company’s perception of chat and reinforcing the value will go a long way in addressing concerns and promoting it as a viable business tool.  If you can you bring people to see what chat can do, you’ll have your company, and your customers, clicking away in no time.

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