The keys to improving payback are to use automation and limit chat technology.
Posted May 30, 2006
Consumers are now more willing to accept text chat as an agent-access choice than they have been in the past, according to a new report from Jupiter Research. Customer satisfaction with text chat grew 13 percent between 2001 and 2005, while customer adoption grew by 22 percent over the same time period. Targeting specific customer interactions and focusing on improving metrics like conversion rate or average order value can help companies measure and improve their ROI from chat. Automation can decrease the average cost, per contact, by 81 percent.
Text chat communications last an average of 7 percent longer than phone conversations. This is balanced by the ability of agents to handle more than one text chat at a time. However, those companies that try to have their agents handle too many text chats at a single time find that efficiency falls, rather than rises, Agents can handle about 1.3 text chat conversations at a time, with no loss than efficiency. "Some companies recognize this," says Zachary McGeary, Jupiter Research associate. "HP doesn't let an agent attempt to handle any more than two text chats at a single time." However, multiple text chats tend to work best only with low complexity queries.
To make the handling of text chat more efficient, McGeary recommends limiting the availability of this option to customers. Those companies that provide text chat on the home page can receive a lot of help requests that could be handled via Web self-service, McGeary says. "Text chat is generally not successful if a company deploys it on a universally available basis. Companies need to use it when there is a revenue opportunity or when a revenue opportunity is at risk." This is particularly true of retailers offering consumer goods, where sizes, shipping choices, and similar service issues can be handled fairly easily via a company's Web site.
Companies can also realize a better ROI by providing automated text-to-chat, according to McGeary. The automated technology uses natural language recognition to answer most user questions. "Companies such as Comcast attained positive ROI within one month [of deploying this technology]," McGeary says. "Although automation cannot address all inquiries, particularly those with high complexity, a solution from Conversive blends automated interactions with seamless escalation/de-escalation capabilities, bringing in live agents only to address inquiries for which automation was not suitable."
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