As customer service becomes increasingly digital, it seems more retail businesses are finally catching onto the benefits of support tools like live chat. However, just because businesses offer chat, doesn’t mean they’re using it appropriately. In the spring of 2019, Sinclair Customer Metrics conducted research focused on the online customer experience of more than 500 B2C companies. The consumer research group sent mystery shoppers to engage with “high-growth” companies over live chat where available.
Of those 500+ brands, 64% of them offered live chat on their website--a good thing. According to the American Marketing Association, live chat conversations can boost your sales significantly: companies with chat see an average of a 20% increase in conversions. Plus, customers who contact you via chat are three times more likely to make a sale than those who don’t. In addition, a 2015 study revealed millennials and Gen-Z customers prefer live chat over other forms of customer service.
One of the reasons live chat is so beneficial is its convenience. Rather than shopping aimlessly, customers can ask questions about products and services without needing to pick up the phone or speak to someone in person. With Help.com’s live chat, agents can even search a customer’s past conversations and purchase history for a more personalized view of their needs.
That being said, the only way to reap the benefits of live chat is to make sure it’s being implemented correctly. According to the Sinclair report, only 8% of companies actually are--the rest are ghosting.
What is ghosting exactly? It became famous with the rise of dating apps. Two people would meet, go on a date, and then out of nowhere, someone disappears for no reason. Not responding in a reasonable timframe--or at all--is a telltale sign of ghosting.
What’s the big deal?
Because live chat’s signature appeal is its convenience, ghosting can easily undermine live chat's potential. The report showed that 82% of all customer-initiated messages never turned into a two-way live exchange. Imagine asking a store employee a question only to have them ignore you. It’s not a good feeling.
On average, it took businesses 20 hours to reply back to customers via email after first contact. Even worse, more than 10% of companies didn’t reply back for more than two days. While help desks are an excellent resource when live chat isn’t available, setting an expectation for a live conversation and getting an auto-reply is likely to disappoint.
What can businesses do to prevent ghosting customers?
The first step is mapping out your customer journey. This will create empathy for the customer experience and help you fill in the gaps of your customer support. Consider what your customer is doing, what kind of device they’re using, and the time and day they usually contact you.
The next step is understanding why a customer wants to speak to you. Whether it’s a question about a product, policy, or service, these are likely time sensitive: either the inquiry is urgent for the customer, or conversely, not answering quickly could lose a sale. Part of your analysis should ensure you’re setting appropriate expectations for customers and staffing your support team properly. This way, your customers won’t end up feeling rejected or ignored by you.
Now, if you know there are specific times your team won’t be able to respond, you should also be equipped with a Plan B. This is where having an integrated help desk and live chat app like Help.com will set you apart from competitors. With an integrated help desk, chat requests will forward directly to your team inbox. Being transparent with your customers about the next step of each interaction will keep them in the loop.
Providing great customer service is a skill, and it demands you stay accountable for your (in)actions. By empathizing with your customer, beefing up your customer service team, managing expectations, and utilizing an integrated live chat and help desk app, you can easily provide superior support to scale with your company’s growth. No ghosts necessary.