Can We Chat About Web Chat?
Why your call center absolutely, positively might need Web chat.
By Mitchell Lieber
Did you realize that your Web site is considered antiquated if it doesn’t have Web chat? Did you know that customers will desert your business if you don’t offer it?
Hold on! That’s not quite true, yet—certainly not for all businesses. Perhaps some day it will be, but today, using Web chat should be carefully considered. See below for a few examples of companies that use Web chat, and others that don’t.
All of these companies are icons in their markets. So how do you know if your Web site and contact center should have Web chat? Perhaps you should take a look at the benefits as well as potential pitfalls.
Just Like Instant Messaging
To your customers, Web chat is similar to instant messaging but requires no user software. That means all Web surfers can use it. There’s a small text window into which messages are typed and received back in similar fashion.
Since it’s typed text, some executives categorize it with e-mails, and there are some similarities. The same staff may be trained to handle both because each requires good writers and spellers. As on the phone, reps must never over-promise (text-chat promises are recorded in writing).
Dr. Jon Anton of Purdue University’s Benchmark Portal says to “expect a 10-to-one ratio of e-mail messages to live text messages.” Unlike e-mail, training for chat must stress short sentences and letting the customer know you’re there. Most importantly, there’s a huge work and traffic flow difference between text chat and e-mail. We’ll look at that in detail. First, let’s begin where all marketers begin—with consumer demand.
A key advantage of Web chat is that it makes it easier for some to do business with your company. Angie Rundle, supervisor of Internet sales at Lands’ End—an early adopter of chat (1999)—points out “the value to the customer is having help readily available to them—not having to log off their PC and call.” She notes that the majority of households still don’t have two phone lines or a broadband connection.