Chat vs. Voice Customer Service: Who wins the cost showdown?
Superior customer service is what it’s all about. The challenge is to exceed customer expectations in the most cost effective way possible. Even with more consumers going online for support, customer service leaders still question the benefits of using voice over chat support for customer service – especially when it comes to comparing costs and effectiveness.
New research that compares chat to voice identified the first can save money and provide customers with a better experience.
Let’s look at cost savings first. Live chat lets agents help more than one customer at a time. We call this “concurrency”. It’s possible because the customer at the other end is often multi-tasking too. It means you need fewer agents to handle the same number of customer contacts.
From a technology standpoint, live chat will cost less to deploy, as it’s usually a cloud-based service and its scalability is typically superior. Voice support requires more local infrastructure, is more complicated to deploy, and represents a larger upfront investment.
Chat support provides other benefits that may not immediately translate to your bottom-line; however it will maximize your customer’s retention and life time value. By the use of skills-based routing, your customer support team has the ability to rapidly connect and interact with your most knowledgeable representatives. If customers have experienced long waits on the telephone for a “live person”, and let’s be honest who hasn’t, then they’ll appreciate this fast response.
Other benefits do translate into higher revenues, as companies have experienced up to 19% online revenues when they provide a Chat support channel, according to a recent Forrester study.
Further, well-constructed live chat support programs will redirect a customer to the company website creating a “stickier” site. We all know that even the best websites can be confusing to navigate and a little customer interaction at the right moment can work wonders.
These findings make a case for the benefits of live chat but, before you jump in, one moment of caution. If you have issues that are too complex for agents to juggle more than one at a time then you have a big decision to make. What is an acceptable trade-off between saving money and potentially lowering customer satisfaction? The goal of handling more than 3 customer interactions at a time per agent without impacting quality may not be realistic (especially with industry concurrency averages between 1.8 and 2.2).
We’ve come a long way in how we deal with customers online. What used to take 24 hours or longer waiting for a company to respond via email, can now take a few minutes. And what customer doesn’t want that.