Chatbots, conversational commerce, conversational marketing, virtual assistants, artificial intelligence... The world around messaging is all the rage right now. The amount of messaging related buzzwords has never been higher. It would be easy to get sucked into the craze and write one more "trending in 2017" blog post. You probably have had quite enough of those already.
So instead you will get a blog post telling you what to do to succeed in 2017 (like there isn't enough of those yet). So after reading this post, you hopefully have a general understanding of what is required for a successful live chat operation this year. As you might guess, chatbots, artificial intelligence, and rest of the buzzwords are part of a winning setup. However, they are not a silver bullet to all your challenges. Nor are they a titanic shift changing everything you have been doing so far.
What you need to do in 2017 is more of same as in 2016. You just have smarter tools to help you. And fewer excuses for poor performance.
If you have a background in sales, my recipe for success should sounds familiar. Whether it is a lean, mean sales machine or streamlined customer service that you are after, for a top-notch live chat operation consider three principles for interactions: direction, quality, and quantity.
First of all, decide what's your goal for the live chat. Are you aiming to generate new business by collecting sales leads, making customer service more cost effective by blocking calls with proactive chat, or achieving something different? The days of implementing live chat just for the sake of chatting are long gone.
Whatever your goal is, make sure your tools (selected live chat software), settings (triggers and rules) and reporting (selected metrics) support that goal. Use triggers and rules to make sure you are interacting with right website visitors. Test, measure, and adjust. Repeat! Then, and only then, consider for new tools like AI-powered targeting.
Uphold high quality! Equip chat agents with appropriate tools and information for doing their jobs. Make it easy and fun for them to help customers. Happy employees lead to happy customers. If agents are assisting (selling to) visitors in an online store, they need to have the content of customers' basket easily available. For insurance industry (heavy with online forms), cobrowse is a true lifesaver. Figure out the best way for you to measure quality (NPS is the easy answer, not maybe the right answer for you).
When pondering which features to enable and which integrations to build in 2017, hold quality as a guideline; quality experienced by your customers and by your customer service team. With new features and integrations consider if implementation enables providing higher quality customer experience (for example faster answers) and if agents can improve the quality of their work (remove manual and mundane tasks like automating data input to CRM). Prioritise quality when improving bells and whistles this year. The money will follow.
For making a meaningful impact on the bottom line, chat volumes need to be high (how high depends on the goals and industry). Also, avoid overburdening chat agents. Remember that live chat is a real-time communication channel, and too many simultaneous conversations burn out agents causing bad customer experience in the form of reduced response times and longer wait times. Most of the time this is like walking a tightrope so you need services that can handle fluctuating quantities and adjust settings in real-time.
Chatbots are envisioned to be the holy grail for solving challenges originating from large volumes of interactions. A bot can handle easily way more than your current customer service workforce can. However, as stated before, they are not a silver bullet to all your challenges. You cannot cold start a chatbot. You need to teach it first with thousands of high-quality chat conversations. Chatbot knows what your customer service team knows. So to take benefit from chatbots, you need to have human agents paving the way for them.
After reading this blog, you might think I am a bit against latest live chat trends. Quite the opposite, I am exhilarated that the future is here! Working with companies, who have already implement the latest tech available, has shown me how powerful these next generation tools can be. It is the year 2017, and we have the power of artificial intelligence made available for us. How cool is that!
To run a business-boosting live chat operation in 2017, you need to have clear vision and goals to work towards. And you need high-quality interactions in great enough volumes to make an impact on the bottom line. Only after you have basics covered, look for competitive advantage with new, intelligent tools. The recipe for success has not changed since 2016; you just have more tools to work with.
Is your live chat operation ready to be taken to next level in 2017?
This blog was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse (Jan 26, 2017). Read the original here.