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Live Chat Means Happier Customers

This post first appeared on the Support Ops blog .

We could debate the merits of live chat all day but recent stats prove it works when done right. From the “2013 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Full-Service Performance Study” (wow, that’s a fun title):

Among full-service wireless customers who solve their issue online, 42 percent indicate having used the chat function, up 6 percentage points from 2011.

Within the online channel, the chat feature has become the leading contact source, as 42 percent of full-service customers indicate using a live online chat feature vs. email (23%) or other social media forum (16%).

Additionally, online satisfaction is highest among customers who use the chat feature (784), compared with among those using other forums to find information (756), indicating the importance of personalized service and knowledgeable representatives.

Note: Those 784 and 756 numbers are on a 1,000 point scale.

Personally, there’s two things that jumped out at me from reading through the findings presented in this article. These aren’t things I didn’t know beforehand. They’re just things I intuitively knew and finally have some data to back it up.

Customers want live chat.

Customers opt for live chat over other choices. 42% used the company’s live chat tool over other channels. Email support came in a distant second at 23%, a 19 point difference.

Live chat is the closest most people will get to instant communication with most teams. It’s a happy middle ground between email and phone support. Turns out customers are okay with that middle ground.

Now before you all go jumping to live chat support over everything else, the survey didn’t address one big component. There’s no mention of response times for these channels. If the companies they surveyed had 24-48 hour email response times, then of course live chat would be picked first. If their email channel had a response time in 5-10 minutes with live chat at 30 minutes, then more people would pick it. Keep that in mind while deciding which support channels to focus on.

Customers want answers from the company.

Customers don’t like searching through forums to find answers. I touched on customer powered support forums a little while back but now there’s even more stats to back it up. When it comes to customer satisfaction, live chat support came in 28 points higher over having customers search the forums for an answer.

Customers are paying you money each month. They want to get their support from you. It’s part of the unwritten social contract between a support team and their customers. It shouldn’t be a surprise that a customer put through the obstacle course of navigating through forums ends up not being as happy as a customer engaged in a live chat with a support rep.

Your Turn

When you turn to support channels as a customer, do you find yourself going for the live chat option if it’s there?


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