It all began with "Merry Christmas"
Live or online chat on websites seems to have been around forever. But let's just say that's an illusion. The precursor was texting using short message service (SMS). The first message was actually sent 25 years ago on 3rd December 1992 - to say
SMS may have given ground to over-the-top media services (OTT) like WhatsApp in the person to person (P2P) market, but at the same time application to person (A2P) communication has equally accelerated. The use of A2P is now far beyond simple reminders "DPD local driver Yassar will deliver you Audi order today 12:07-13:07". Now, it is used as an effective means of informing, marketing and even selling. Revenues enabled and attributed to A2P exceeded $60bn in 2017. Selling by text is big business!
The form and content has evolved and the process of typing a message in a small box - as an effective means of communication - is now ubiquitous.
25 years ago the thought of communicating via a written message using a phone would have seemed totally ridiculous. Now it seems more natural than making a voice call, especially amongst the younger generations.
Live chat is a great sales opportunity
There is nothing like feeling comfortable in your surroundings to make you a receptive buyer.
Customers want to engage using live chat. Forty-five percent have used it to interact with a live agent in 2017. [Forrester]
Interestingly though website deployment of live chat software is still in the minority. Estimates vary - some as low as 10%. Although take this with a pinch of salt - most major organisations use chat as a means of connecting customers with contact centre agents. Far fewer use chat as a core element of sales. This seems odd given the compelling statistics:
Customers are 2.8x more likely to buy following a live chat engagement [Forrester]
Those that buy spend 60% more [Logmein]
All told that means great live chat delivers a wopping 288% uplift in sales. In this context Gartner's estimate of 85% adoption rate of chat by 2022 is surprising - whats holding folks back?
By 2022, over 85% of companies will offer some form of live chat on their website or on mobile devices to interact with their customers. [Gartner, 2017]
Scalability - a challenge to overcome
Adoption rates are somewhat explained by market statistics. Comm100 surveyed users on its own platform and observes:
- Faster first contact connection: but at 37s this is still slow
- Shorter chat duration but still an exasperating 12min 20s
- Double chat volumes handled by the same number of agents
- 80%+ customer satisfaction rates - but falling
The key issue is a need for organisations to provide sufficient capacity to effectively handle all potential chats. Up until now this has been achieved in several ways:
- Recruit additional agents or divert from other channel handling functions
- Train agents to handle more chats in the same time by increasing chat threads (the number of chats handled at once) agent assistance software enables agents to reduce 'hands on' time by mostly using canned or template responses
- Outsource chat handling to a dedicated contact centre. The Agents have a high skill level in handling dialogue through the medium but usually limited knowledge of the products or service they are chatting about
- Implement point technology solutions - typically a 'chat bot' dealing responses to frequently asked questions (FAQ)
The most common outcomes of these decisions are:
- Chats cease to be bespoke and specific, and start to become generic. This leads to falling customer satisfaction - the reason they entered the live chat channel in the first place was to move on from the generic website content already available
- Operational priority swings to closing down issues rather than pursuing revenue opportunities. This is reflected by the wide use of chat for customer service, but very limited use for profitable sales activities
The consequence of this behaviour is terrible news. Live chat offers companies one of their best opportunities to grow - a 288% uplift infact. The ability to directly engage with customers at the point of purchase. Most are failing to grasp it. But there are other options.
Three steps to double your sales
When AMO engages with clients, we always recommend a three steps approach when looking at making the live chat channel profitable:
- Understand your current 'state of the nation'
- Recognise live chat as a productive sales activity
- Resource the organisation for sales
Understand your state
To understand your current position or state, you must review your existing chats for both form and actual content.
Form means the analytics, meta data and performance of live chat as a communication channel including:
- Pick up time
- Conversation volley count and response times
- Words per volley
- Total chat time
- Chat outcome
- Spelling and use of language
Whilst content is purely about the 'message moments' and understanding the result of information being transferred between agent and customer and vice versa, including:
- Use of questions to gain information and direct the conversation
- Education offered to the customer based on state of knowledge
- Identification and consolidation of needs
- Solution identification
Sales opportunity view
The objective of engaging with the customer is to meet a need and make a sale. The objective is not to close down the conversation as fast as possible. It may involve a few steps and is dependent on the knowledge and intention of the customer. Live chat should enable you to deliver an effective sales journey:
- Explore customer objectives
- Educate and explain what's possible
- Qualify in customer language, not product features
- Introduce terminology and signpost to relevant content
- Convert needs into specific solutions
- Prepare quotes based on their preferences
- Close the sale by adding products to their basket
It's all about providing "in the moment" service so that you capture the customer at the point of purchase, rather than they bounce to a search engine or competitor.
Resource for sales
Selling is a high value activity and it can have a high cost of delivery. It is also a regular and repetitive task. This makes it an ideal candidate for automation: the investment offers a high payback, both from increased revenues and cost reduction.
Sales automation can be achieved by following the AMO five pillars approach:
- People – Understanding what qualified prospects need/are looking to achieve
- Product – Data that sets out the attributes of products and inter-relations
- Process – Getting prospects to share needs; Connecting needs with product/solution
- Platform – Systems, infrastructure and culture to drive an ongoing sales automation programme
- Practice – Expertise to create the Platform and harness People, Process and Product to deliver automation
The evidence is overwhelming that Chat as a format offers one of todays best channels to interact with customers. The link between well run Chat activities and increased revenues is direct and powerful.
The growing volumes of Chat and the consequent resource requirements mean you need to plan for success and understand your options to scale.
There is an excellent case for investment in sales automation delivered over Chat because of the business benefit and financial return.
At AMO we are experts and leaders in the field of sales automation. Get in touch and see how your company can double sales with just a chat.
I have been asked to explain this, so here goes... and yes I know that going from £100 to £388 is closer to quadruple than double... but we are prudent over here.
After using chat visitors are 2.8x more likely to buy, and when they do, spend 60% more.
So imagine 2000 visitors and 100 buyers before chat, each spending £1000.
After chat there are 280 buyers, 100 still spending £1000 (because they didnt need/want to chat) and 180 spending £1600.
So sales have gone from £100,000 to 388,000. The increase is 288%
100x1000 = 100,000
Results from chat
180x1600 = 288,000
Total after = 388,000
Increase % = (after-before)/before
Sales went up a lot because you implemented chat. They would go up most if every user could chat, so max out and use an automated solution like AMO.