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Are customer web chat facilities the future of problem solving?

“I was asking their advice regarding a lip pencil to go with a lipstick I had purchased, they were able to help me by first finding out my skin tone and then sending me a link to two they thought would go well with it. I was happy with their suggestions and will be buying one at the duty-free counter in Menorca this week.”

As consumers, when we need help or advice, we have so many options when choosing how to interact with companies. The days of being put on hold for many, many minutes whilst being told that our custom is important, is no longer our only option. The emergence of web chat services gives us direct access to Customer Services, allowing customers to shop and solve simultaneously. This service presents companies with the opportunity to resolve problems efficiently and improve their accessibility to their customers.

But how successful is this channel? We asked our Mystery Customer team to share their recent experiences to find out what web chat facilities really offer to customers.

Just 31.6% of customers completely satisfied

Whilst not all companies offer a web chat facility, those that do can expect quick fire questions from their customers. Whether it’s to track their order, ask for advice or answer a question, customers found themselves completely satisfied with the service offered in just 31.6% of instances.

“I had a quick question about an order I placed. The payment hadn't gone through and I didn't know how to reorder. The representative replied within one minute and assured me that no payment had been taken and I needed to reorder. I was impressed with how quick the response was and was able to reorder before the items went out of stock. Ten out of ten!”

Rating Satisfaction (n=) Needs met (n=)
0 5 7
1 3 4
2 3 5
3 5 1
4 5 2
5 7 5
6 2 4
7 8 6
8 8 7
9 8 8
10 25 30
Total 79

One contact resolution is key to satisfaction

We don’t necessarily expect customer service colleagues to know all the answers, but we like them to try and find out for us. Almost one in two (46.8%) customers had to make a follow up enquiry with the company after initially using their web chat facility.

Passing customers from pillar to post only causes frustration. Where customers did not need to follow up, satisfaction sat at 88.8% vs. 43.2% when customers had to use a different channel for resolution.

Average
Followed Up n= Satisfaction Needs met
Did not need to follow up 42 88.8 92.6
Email 17 50 48.8
Web chat 5 46.0 46.0
Store 2 35.0 40.0
Telephone 12 35 27.5
Social Media 1 30.0 80.0
Grand Total 79 67.5 68.9

“I'm moving provider and wanted the PAC code and thought the online chat would be easier. The first agent told me they'd "guide me through the process" but had to put me through to someone else after taking me through security. The next agent then took me through security. During the next twenty minutes I asked for my PAC code six times - and even when they agreed, they sent over T and C information that I didn't ask for or want. In total I was on the web-chat for 35 minutes.”

Follow up by telephone drives dissatisfaction

Those customers who choose to use a web chat facility over face to face / telephone contact typically do so for ease and convenience. For those customers who then must follow up via another channel, having to make contact via telephone drives dissatisfaction further still, dropping to 35.0%.

Common causes of frustration amongst customers having to follow up their web chats with a telephone conversation were time management, colleague manner and a lack of knowledge - largely contributing to satisfaction scores of 0 – 2.

“I was busy on my computer and couldn’t be bothered to call but I ended up having to as no one was available. When I did call there was a message encouraging customers to use the online web chat – if only we could! This just added to the frustration.”

Empowering teams to help their customers is key to moving forward

Businesses are continuously refining their online offer, but it’s essential that customer service follows this same path. Web chats should be an extension of this online offer, with those colleagues manning the keyboards able to confidently answer questions or seek help without the customer having to make additional contact. It’s important that the service is not simply an ‘add on’ that pays lip service to offering this facility without delivering it effectively. Time and knowledge must be imparted to ensure the service provided meets the customer’s needs and isn’t a weak link that ultimately drives dissatisfaction.

To find out more about this project, and our expertise in building CX measurement programmes that deliver a better customer experience, please get in touch with ABa via the details below.

Megan Walker
Experience Champion
megan@aba.co.uk / 0161 431 1236

Danielle Sones
Experience Director
danielle@aba.co.uk / 0161 431 1221

(Source: ABa Pulse Web Chat Project, 1st May - 30th June, n= 79)


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