Posts Tagged ‘omnichannel’

How VCC Live Supports Remote Work

Posted on: April 6th, 2020 by Magdalena Horváth No Comments

The remote work trend of the past few years has also created a shift in the contact center industry. Contact centers are increasingly becoming virtual. Just like traditional call centers, virtual agents handle the same customer support or telesales tasks with the only difference that they work from home.

We have previously written about the benefits of setting up a remote contact center. Remote operations can be beneficial not just for employees, but also for companies and businesses. If you address initial concerns with the right technology and management mindset, a virtual contact center should be just as or even more productive as an on-premise one. Remote work can lead to increased productivity and lower operational costs. More importantly, it is essential for any business to be able to keep up business operations in times of uncertainty, such as mobility restrictions.

Already made up your mind? Good. But what features and functions help in actually setting up your remote workforce? Here are some of the solutions that VCC Live has to offer.

Step 0: A quick and easy setup

When migrating your operations onto different platforms, a quick and easy transition is key. You need to make sure that your business operations won’t lose time, revenue, and clients in the process. Adopting VCC Live software can take as little as a few hours, depending on the complexity of your requirements. To give you an example, an existing customer of ours with 200 agents was forced to move their entire operations to a remote working environment due to national mobility restrictions. Our client managed to complete the entire operation in just one day, including physically moving workstations to their agents’ homes.

1. Possibility to expand your channels anytime

Adding to the ease of setup is the flexibility of VCC Live software. When using VCC Live, your administrators have full access to project settings. This way, they are able to make changes without having to contact VCC Live. This is very different to what would happen with on-premise solutions or even most cloud-based, boxed solutions. 

When thinking about setting up your remote operations, you might have to think about the cross-channel workflow that best serves your needs. Perhaps you need to start using channels currently preferred by your customers, like Facebook Messenger or the chat feature on your website. Maybe you have some special announcements or offers for your clients at times and you need to use mass email or mass SMS sending campaigns. Alternatively, it might happen that you need to add an additional step to your usual calling activity. For example, you might have to send an SMS confirmation after a call is finished. Using VCC Live, you can easily set up all of your preferred channels and modify your workflow whenever it is needed.

2. Security in your operations

Besides ease of access and flexibility, reviewing your data and operations security is also one of the fundamental steps in creating a remote work infrastructure. By reviewing your internal processes, you can assign the appropriate roles and responsibilities to your admins, supervisors, and operators. With this, you can avoid data protection issues or avert project changes that were not approved.  

For example, you may want to restrict remote agents’ access to certain data or features, compared to the access offered when working in the office. With VCC software, you can easily do that from your administrator panel by just unmarking the relevant elements. Thanks to the combination of expanded user-right options and two-factor authentication, we are able to offer the highest levels of security to the software as well as to your operations. 

Additionally, we’ve been working hard over the past years to make our company 100% GDPR compliant. We are also proud holders of the ISO27001 certificate that proves the highest levels of information and data security within an organization and in its processes, matching GDPR requirements introduced in 2018. We also hold the ISO22301 certificate that guarantees sustainable business management practices.

However, the certificate that really marks out VCC Live from many other contact center software providers, is the PCI DSS certificate that applies to any organization that accepts credit and debit card payments. We are proud to say that this year was the fourth year that we were able to fulfill the criteria required to be awarded the certificate again.

The mentioned certificates help us adhere to the highest of standards when assessing internal and external risks, and are invaluable when preparing detailed plans for all potentially critical business situations.

3. Easily accessible data and call recordings

With agents working remotely, you want to be sure that all your calls are recorded and safely stored. Additionally, you might want to switch on call recording even in projects where you did not previously do it. You can easily download and store your recordings locally thanks to our VCC Live Archiver application.

If you often carry out manual database imports, consider using an API to automate your workflow and avoid human error when providing data for your projects. Perhaps accessing your data storage points is not even an option for admins or supervisors working remotely. Using our comprehensive developer’s guide, the VCC Live API can be set up easily by your IT administrators.

Besides two-step authentication and our API, VCC Live ensures data security by hosting data in multiple VCC Data Centers around the world.

4. Backup telco routes

Adding to security, VCC Live technology is based on instantly available backup telecommunication routes. This means that as soon as our systems notice anomalies in any of our used telecommunication routes, or we are notified of planned maintenance, we are able to instantly switch to alternative routes. In recent, unstable times, where many companies have been facing economic and technological difficulties, it is clear that the instant availability of backup routes is an extremely important advantage. With VCC default routes you have the security of automatic routing modifications whenever there are any problems.

5. Easy human resources management and monitoring

VCC Live software enables ease of access in your workflow when it comes to monitoring and managing your remote working agents. To enable this, VCC Live offers an automatic login feature, remote project switching, full access to user management, and rights setups for supervisors.

Using VCC Live, supervisors or administrators have complete control in their hands even when working remotely. Our technology enables the remote transfer of agents between projects as well as the ability to change their status. Additionally, supervisors can also have closer control over agents’ work time. For example, VCC enables the possibility to set up after work time limitations and, when using manual dialing, prework limitations as well.

Next to remote monitoring, VCC Live takes care of virtual agents’ interface as well. You can make sure your agents’ interface stays as simple as possible, while still allowing them to have all the necessary information they need to do their job. This includes review elements and scripts, that become especially useful, when information from their supervisors may take longer than the usual face to face question handling. You can decide which dispositions should be made visible for agents or when providing additional information is required. Additionally, you can also specify the parameters of your agents’ breaks, with logs and statistics that enable you to get an actual overview of your agents’ work schedules. User state logs allow you to keep track of when agents are on a call, log in or out, or how much time they spend on breaks. The log also highlights whenever a break is too long.

Real-time monitoring can also give you direct insights into ongoing agent conversations, and call-whispering features allow you to give feedback or help an agent without the customer hearing. If necessary you are also able to join agent- client conversation in a conference mode. 

In terms of data handling, we offer comprehensive real-time analytics and reporting possibilities on all your operations and channels. This means project and user-focused statistics as well as real-time monitoring options with customizable dashboards to fit your business needs. Finally, User activity logs enable you or your team supervisor to see daily updates, log-in requests or do-not-call registry updates.

You can also utilize VCC Live dashboards, in order to monitor your team results in terms of the most important business KPI’s. Dashboards are accessible from supervisors’ mobile devices too, so you can use them from anywhere you are without the need to stay in front of your computer.

6. Training, feedback and motivation tools

Adapting to an unexpected scenario and switching to remote work is not only challenging for you but also for your employees. State your expectations and the rules of remote working through clear communication.

Additional training sessions may be needed, especially if you are planning to revise your workflow. You may utilize VCC Live’s listen-in, whispering, and conference mode functions to serve this purpose.

Your employees should also know their work will be assessed just as usual. Remember to give regular feedback to ensure that your agents are doing their jobs well. If there are points to improve, highlight them, based on examples available in call recordings as well as VCC Live logs and statistics.

You can easily assess your agents’ work and give them instant feedback using either our Quality Management tool or by using a simple personal message. If you do not yet have an in-house quality control team, it may be a good idea to establish one to ensure high levels of customer satisfaction, regardless of the situation you are in.

You may also consider motivating your remote team with additional bonuses. These bonuses can be calculated automatically by VCC software, based on dispositions saved by agents and database fields’ values.

Last but not least, you can easily communicate with your employees. You can keep them up to date with personal chat messages, group messages, or send updates to your agents using Agent News whenever you need to share important information.

7. Key Account Management Team

If you feel that you need our help, VCC Live has a dedicated Key Account Management team available. Our experts can share their knowledge, help you prepare and execute software implementation plans, and manage your projects from a technical point of view. Additionally, they can give advice on best-working scenarios based on our own customer experiences.

We hope that this short checklist helped you find the tools for establishing a remote work infrastructure. Providing ease of access and a smooth transition, VCC Live software can help you establish a secure, safe, and efficient remote operation. Transitioning onto a remote work infrastructure proves to be more flexible and in line with modern call center standards. Therefore, it can be seen as more than just a temporary fix but a long-term investment. The time for remote ventures has never been better!

The 5 Must-Have Features For a Remote Contact Center

Posted on: March 30th, 2020 by Dorottya Márton No Comments

The remote work trend of the past few years has also created a shift in the contact center industry. Contact centers are increasingly becoming virtual. Just like traditional call centers, virtual agents handle the same customer support or telesales tasks with the only difference that they work from home.

We have previously written about the benefits of setting up a remote contact center. Remote operations can be beneficial not just for employees, but also for companies and businesses. If you address initial concerns with the right technology and management mindset, a virtual contact center should be just as or even more productive as an on-premise one. Remote work can lead to increased productivity and lower operational costs. More importantly, it is essential for any business to be able to keep up business operations in times of uncertainty, such as mobility restrictions.

Already made up your mind? Good. But what is the next step in actually setting up a remote workforce and establishing a fully functioning remote contact center? While having a remote workforce might seem like a good idea, the steps to establishing it could strike one as difficult. However, keeping some of these five essential functions in mind make for a perfect foundation for a well-functioning remote business infrastructure.

1. Omnichannel communications

As we have previously written, omnichannel communications are an essential method for interacting with customers in an effective manner, making your business communications smoother and more effective. In combination with this, it also makes your agent activity more integrated and simple.

Multichannel communication means using several channels when interacting with customers. However, omnichannel communication takes things to the next level by aligning the channels used. Most call centers will be expected to deliver a seamless omnichannel customer experience to maximize personalization, as customers are no longer used to repeating what they said previously to another agent through a different channel. Instead, they expect that the agent they’re talking to knows their interaction history and efficiently solves their issues. 

By aligning your channels, your remote agents will be able to instantly identify the customer they are handling, regardless of when and where previous remote agents talked to them. Something that the customer said on social media, phone, or email, will be available on a single platform, for the agent to see the next time that she is communicating with a client.

2. Predictive Dialer

A predictive dialer is an outbound calling feature that is capable of predicting how much time agents spend idle or inactive conversation. Predictive dialer calls are also initiated by the dialer, as the system continuously and dynamically calculates the number of calls it has to initiate to keep the operators busy. According to some statistics, an agent can spend up to 25% of their time idle. 

If you manage outbound campaigns, a predictive dialer is perhaps the most essential feature for your contact center, whether you manage it from on-site or remotely. This way, you can reach the highest number of records from your database and keep your efficiency as high as possible, even if your team works from several locations. 

3. Remote Monitoring

This brings us to remote monitoring. Besides being able to see the real-time inbound and outbound calls of your agents with the help of the predictive dialer, a remote monitoring interface allows you to track the entire activity of your agents. With remote monitoring, you can listen into ongoing conversations, talk to an agent without the customer hearing, transfer agents between projects, or change the agents’ status. This can be done from anywhere, without the need for on-premise interaction, simply through an integrated call center platform.

 4. A KPI Dashboard

Understanding your metrics and establishing your daily or weekly goals might seem like a headache when initially trying to set up the management of virtual call center agents. However, the KPI dashboard of cloud-based contact centers provides easily understandable numbers that you can follow in real-time. These statistics include quantifiable oversight, such as disposition, global and project-specific calls, and inbound statistics. VCC live provides all these features that are needed to support virtual agents and their supervisors.

5. A secure, cloud VPN

Tracking your agents and keeping your KPI’s and your client communications on track might seem easy. However, data security can look like a bigger task. How can you make sure that virtual agents follow data security protocols? Modern call center solutions have an answer for this. With the help of a secure VPN connection and cloud technology, you can set up a call center network that your employees can have access to in a safe manner. Additionally features, such as two-factor authentication, prevent unauthorized access or data breaches. In the case of VCC Live, the data itself is stored in five various Global Data Centers with a 24/7 Security and Data team.

Bottom line? When it comes to maintaining a modern business, having the right technology is essential in building your enterprise on solid foundations. You have to keep the following in mind when setting up your remote contact center: Omnichannel communications help remote data handling and client communications. Predictive dialer and remote monitoring technologies allow for an effective workforce. A KPI dashboard helps you keep your business goals aligned. Last but not least, a secure, cloud VPN should solve all your data security concerns.

Omnichannel Customer Service for Utility Companies

Posted on: March 5th, 2020 by dorarapcsak No Comments

Utility firms typically offer services that are taken for granted, and which normally remain invisible to customers. Until, that is, those customers receive an inaccurate bill, a notification with incorrect meter readings or information about price increases.

In such cases, they pick up the phone and expect providers to fix their problem as soon as possible. But what happens if a provider fails to meet customers’ expectations? The answer: they will most likely switch to a competitor in the hope of getting better customer experience. 

As competition gets fiercer than ever, with most regions now offering multiple utility supplier options, utility providers need to step up their game in order to stay ahead of the competitors. One trend utilities can benefit from is omnichannel customer service. Here’s why!

Utilities Customers Go Omnichannel

Today’s customers expect to be able to interact with their utility providers via multiple channels as well as have more control over how they are contacted. It seems utility customers have already gone omnichannel, and providers who have not implemented omnichannel technologies yet will definitely need to do as soon as possible.

So once you decided to implement an efficient omnichannel strategy, first you’ll need to understand your customers’ expectations across the variety of digital channels that omnichannel offers. And, instead of being present on every possible channel, you should focus on identifying channels that are preferred by customers.

For example, you might not think so but utility customers commonly use social media sites to take care of their utility activities. Due to this ever-increasing popularity of social media channels, utilities companies must learn how to utilize social media channels as well in order to provide a better digital customer experience.

You can, for instance, send out notification messages such as payment reminders through Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp, and handle customer communication via your Facebook account. Again, a thorough assessment of which social media channels are most popular with your customers ought to be the first step in your strategy.

It’s All About Data

In a digital age, decision making has to be backed up by data. Recent technological advancements have transformed the way decision making is approached, and utility providers, who normally store a huge amount of data, cannot afford to miss out on taking advantage of this.

In particular, when it comes to customer service, customers are becoming more and more demanding. Recent research shows that utility customers, for example, tend to get frustrated when they have to repeat information they have already shared with their utility provider on a different channel.

This clearly shows that utility firms should focus on creating a data-driven omnichannel strategy by aligning and constantly analyzing data in order to be able to better pinpoint customers’ behavior and overall preferences.  

To benefit from omnichannel customer service, integrating your channels to be able to see all data on one platform is key, as he experience will only be valuable if it’s actually a good one.

Mobility Is Key

Mobility ranks high among the benefits of digital customer experience, with customers actively preferring to carry out even the smallest customer service activity using their mobile phones. And, as with many other industries, utility providers need to embrace this concept.

Omnichannel customer service is the ideal solution for utilities to provide customers with increased mobility, by enabling them to use their remote devices to take care of issues on their preferred channel.  

Smartphones and tablets, for example, are often used by customers to stay connected with a business while they are on the go. And utility providers who offer the convenience of resolving services such as billing issues remotely will definitely have a better chance of retaining their customers’ loyalty.

Another example of omnichannel customer experience utilities can benefit from is remote customer identification. This new innovation allows businesses to identify their customers via video chat instead of requiring them to visit a physical location only to wait in a queue to be identified.

With fierce competition commonplace in the utilities industry, excellent customer service can make or break your business. With this in mind, as a utilities provider you must go the extra mile to provide the level of support your customers expect – fast, efficient and via their preferred channel.

How to Provide Omnichannel Experience in the Banking Industry – With an Example

Posted on: June 14th, 2019 by Elemér Erdősi 2 Comments

With the evolution of technology and new strategies in today’s customer service landscape, it is of utmost importance for companies to explore and keep up with the latest trends in order to stay ahead of the game.

Currently, customer service is dominated by the concept of leveraging several channels with the aim of aligning customer communication. First, it was multichannel, later omnichannel, and now companies started to explore optichannel communication.

Multichannel vs. Omnichannel vs. Optichannel

The terms multichannel and omnichannel are often used interchangeably. And while both terms are related, there is a significant difference between them.  

Multichannel communication means leveraging several channels when interacting with customers. However, omnichannel communication takes things to the next level by aligning the channels utilized.

But what about optichannel? Well, when it comes to interacting with customers, companies need to rely on the most efficient communication methods. And this is where optichannel comes in handy.

Indeed, having only just started to embrace the omnichannel concept, optichannel is the new buzzword taking over the customer service landscape. While omnichannel allows customers to engage with companies on their preferred channel, with optichannel communication it is your business that specifically determines the optimal channel for your customers based on your goals for each channel and available customer information.  

Although optichannel will definitely become more popular in the future, at the moment it is omnichannel that rules in the banking industry. In this article, I will focus on the omnichannel approach, and more precisely, how you can provide an omnichannel experience in the banking industry. Let’s dive in!

Omnichannel experience in the banking industry

Providing an omnichannel experience in the banking industry is pretty much a prerequisite for any financial organization that wish to keep their customers in the long run.

Omnichannel experience in banking is about providing a seamless and consistent interaction with customers across multiple channels. In particular, during customer interactions, agents need to easily switch between several channels (for example, phone, sms, chat, video) in order to provide customers with an as convenient customer experience as possible.

And in order to be able to provide this seamless and consistent interaction, agents need to be able to rely on an all-in-one solution that is able to integrate all the channels you use, as well as displaying comprehensive customer information, on the same platform.

The solution offered by ourselves here at VCC Live®, for example, not only allows you to integrate your channels but also displays all your customer information on the same platform, helping your agents read your customers’ minds.

Furthermore, in the banking industry, providing customer support on any device is just as important as leveraging and aligning several channels. As customers these days are constantly on the go, the majority of them are likely to handle their queries via their mobile phones. Therefore, simply having a mobile application is not enough today, financial institutions also need to ensure that customer journeys carried out via their mobile platform are as convenient and simple as via phone/web.

In other words, providing multichannel experience in the banking industry means delivering the same quality of service across all channels and all devices, both online and offline.

Example of omnichannel support in the banking industry

So, now that you know how important omnichannel experience in the banking industry is, let’s have a look at a real-life omnichannel experience example that highlights what VCC Live®’s solution can offer.

Let’s say your customer wants to raise the limit of the amount of money they can withdraw from an ATM at any one time. They begin to search the bank’s website using their mobile to check out the possibilities.

The company’s chat window pops up and the customer types in the chat window that they want to raise the limit of the amount of money they can withdraw from an ATM at anyone time.

A live agent now enters the conversation and notifies the customer that in order to raise this limit, identification is needed. Thanks to the integration of the several channels the bank leverages for customer interactions, the agent is able to see the customer’s complete history on one single platform.

In the past, identification required customers to physically go to the financial institutions to identify themselves. However, thanks to the latest technology, which is incorporated into VCC Live®’s solution, customers can now identify themselves via video call.

The agent can thus offer the customer the opportunity to be identified via video call. The customer confirms video call identification. The agent send an SMS with instructions and a link to the video call.

The customer clicks on the link and the video call begins. Following the instructions given, the customer looks into the camera and holds up an appropriate identification card. The agent takes a photo, checks the quality, and informs the customer if the identification was successful.

After successful identification, the agent can now increase the limit on the customer’s card. The conversation ends, and the agent sends the customer an SMS with a link to a survey to assess the quality of the call.

During this simple and short conversation, the customer was smoothly switched between four communications channels, including chat, SMS, video call and email. The result is a convenient and efficient customer interaction that solved the customer’s query at the first go. And this is exactly what an omnichannel experience in the banking industry should be like.

New Debt Collection Rules in the US and Global Trends – an Interview with Richard Blewis, Digital Debt Collections Expert

Posted on: June 7th, 2019 by dorarapcsak No Comments

A new policy recently put forward by the US’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposes allowing debt collectors in the US to only be able to call debtors up to seven times a week. The new policy also states that once debt collectors reach a debtor by phone, they would have to leave them alone for at least a week. Additionally, the CFPB is proposing no cap on the number of texts or emails a collector could send, opening the door for digital messaging channels such as WhatsApp and Facebook to become viable communication options for debt collectors. I talked to Richard Blewis, Digital Debt Collections Manager at VCC Live, about this new regulation, as well as global trends currently dominating the debt collection industry.

According to the new rules being proposed by the CFPB, debt collectors would be able to call a delinquent borrower with an outstanding debt a maximum of seven times a week. How do you think the new rules will affect debt collection companies in the US?

Richard: I believe that the additional effect on limiting the amount of calls to 7 attempts weekly is minimal for companies. In general, as has been proven, if debt collectors initiate too many calls, debtors simply don’t answer them anymore. As a result, professional debt collection companies already reduced the amount of collection calls they initiate, as they are aware of the diminishing results if they try to bombard debtors with calls.  

The new rules also suggest that once debt collectors reach a debtor by phone, they’ll have to leave them alone for at least a week. Do you think that being able to talk to a debtor only once a week will negatively affect the performance of debt collection companies?

Richard: Yes. Companies who use aggressive collecting strategies and collect outstanding debts using methods that could be considered harassment, will definitely be negatively affected by only being able to have one conversation with non-payers per week. More professional debt collection agencies, however, won’t be affected that much, as they already realized that initiating as many as possible calls will not necessarily help collect more debts. Instead, they are aware that moving into the digital era by exploring new channels and reducing operating costs by making offers in self-service is the way forward.

Until now, phone was the most preferred way for companies to contact debtors. But we can now clearly see a shift from phone to other digital channels when it comes to collecting debts. Why do you think companies have started to focus on channels besides phone?

Richard: It is true that phone calls are still an important and efficient element of debt collection, but at the same time customers in general are moving to digital channels, one reason being that they increasingly prefer self-service when it comes to interacting with a company. In addition, customers also expect to be able to do their business out of business hours. In order to keep up with these changing customer demands, professional companies have already started to explore channels other than phone, and leverage methods such as data segmentation to guide self-service debt collection.

The new regulation proposes having no cap on the number of texts or emails a collector can send, and messages can also be sent on digital messaging channels, such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. How do you think debtors will react to receiving messages via their personal chat programs? Do you think the number of messages should also be restricted?

Richard: Debtors who might find it inappropriate or annoying to receive debt collection messages via their personal chat programs have the option to opt out on SMS and block those messages on Facebook. For others, however, receiving text reminders rather than endless phone calls might be a preferred way of being contacted. As there is always the option for debtors to opt out, I believe there is no need to regulate the number of messages debt collectors can send.

What do you suggest debt collection companies who currently focus their collection processes on phone calls should do? Is it time for them to explore other channels?

Richard: Phone calls should definitely remain a significant channel for debt collection agencies. At the same time, however, while constantly trying to improve the channels they already use, companies also need to explore other channels, and in particular how they interact with each other. For example, SMS text messages for debt collection should ideally contain a link to a chat channel, in case debtors have any questions, as well as a link to a digital document, such as an invoice or PTP (promise-to-pay) agreement. It is vital that companies need to align the channels they use in order to make the debt collection process for debtors as smooth as possible.

Are you seeing this shift from phone to other channels in Europe as well? Do you think the same rules should be applied in Europe too?

Richard: I believe the new rules are not that important enough to be applied in Europe, as there is a similar business trend happening in Europe as in the US. Here, as there, more and more debt collection companies are realizing that the future is in exploring and aligning several channels in order to reach debtors on their preferred channel. As a result, professional debt collection agencies are focusing their operations on several channels rather than blasting out as many calls as possible. 

Let’s have a chat! Boosting your sales by using webchat

Posted on: April 19th, 2018 by dorarapcsak No Comments

Think of the last time you were in a store trying to choose between two products. Both of them look great, the prices for both are very good value for money, and both of them are exactly what you’re looking for….so, how do you make a decision?

Well, more than likely you would probably look around for the first sales assistant you can find, to give you more information about the products and professional advice on helping you make the right choice. 

Now imagine doing the same thing online, perhaps comparing two products in a webshop. The pictures of both look great, you go through the lengthy descriptions and summaries, visit a few forums, and end up reading contradictory reviews that get you confused or annoyed. How great it would be to get some of that professional in-store advice, you think… And that’s where live chat comes in – providing the personal touch of real-store selling in the world of online purchases.

 

Let’s have a chat!

Over the years many companies have implemented different chat solutions to help customers find the information they need. Some have used automated messages and chatbots, others have preferred the benefits of using real agents to help those with many questions (check out how we implemented our chat solution!). But, having now experimented for a number of years with the concept of webchat, businesses have discovered the answer to the question of whether live chat can help boost sales – and the answer is YES.

There can be no doubt that many people make decisions on the spur of the moment, and as a result, one can say in general that the less time people spend thinking about purchasing a service or product, the more inclined they are to buy it. If consumers are given more time to think about what they are buying, they often either lose interest or talk themselves out of it.  

Let's have a chat! - boosting your sales with webchat (1)We already talked about some pro customer service tips in a previous blog post. Now, you can add Live chat to your list. Live chat is not only the perfect tool to help customers make the right choice and also ensure they get to the basket checkout. It also adds a personal touch to an otherwise impersonal online shopping experience, showing customers that you are there for them even in the comfort of their own homes. And let’s not forget to mention the opportunity live chat offers for upselling your products and services. So, isn’t it about time to have a chat about chat?

 

“Hello. How can webchat help me boost my sales?”

Chat is a very useful tool, giving you several opportunities to boost your sales. Here are some examples:

Chat is convenient: let’s face it, nothing beats the comfort of doing your shopping from home. Chat gives people the convenience of buying what they need – from grocery shopping to new clothes and electronics – from the comfort of their own couch. Adding a webchat function to your webpage will allow your customers not only to do their shopping conveniently, but also add that personal touch equivalent to asking for help or advice from a shop assistant, making your services all they will ever need.

Fact: chat is cheap! When providing phone support one operator can handle only one phone call with one customer at a time. Chat, however, allows operators to process several, usually around 3, chats at the same time, making it much more cost-efficient – which is especially important in the case of international sales where a phone call between two countries can be quite expensive.

Chat is immediate: in today’s world, people are constantly online, always available, and wanting to receive information immediately. Phone calls might still be the fastest way to exchange information, but let’s not forget that many people do not want to discuss things in front of others around them. This is where chat can help keep things discreet but efficient.

Chat helps you sell more: according to a Forrester research[1] survey, 44% of people shopping online said that one of the best features a website can offer during the sales process is a live person answering questions. Apart from people liking webchat support, there is also another positive side to webchat which helps to boost sales: upselling. Have your webchat function staffed by a team of professional sales people, and you will be sure your customers will end up buying more than they had planned.

Chat is personal: showing your customers they matter is what business is all about. By making sure you have a real person ready to answer any questions they have, you can show your customers that you care about them and their needs. A personal touch will always win over the cold and inpersonal self-service option.

 

“But what do I need to make it work?”

Without wanting to make webchat integration sound too easy, let’s mention a few things you need to take into consideration before putting together your own webchat service. Chat is a great tool to boost your business, but it’s not an activity to set up and forget. As with any other solution it requires careful thought and planning. Here are a few things to consider:

Open hours: providing the convenience of shopping from home also means that people will most probably not be visiting your website between only 9.00 and 17.00, especially if you are operating internationally. If you do not want to provide 24/7 support, then make sure you know when your website is most visited. As for the times when you do not have operators to support live queries, do not leave a ’Currently unavailable’ sign, but rather choose an option in which customers can still submit their questions for operators get back to them later (but don’t forget to mention this to your customers!).

Right time: don’t forget that this use of webchat is similar to the help sales assistants would provide in a physical shop. You do not want to scare your customers off by jumping at them the moment they enter. Allow your web visitors a couple of minutes to look around your webpage before any chat window pops up.

Sales people: with reference to the previous point, make sure the operators supporting your chat service have experience in sales, especially if you are planning to leverage any upsell activities. It’s not enough to simply put anyone there to answer questions, you need someone who can actually sell.

Cross platform: at the end of every good support interaction, customers normally like to thank operators for their help. Your operators can use this to motivate customers to write reviews and share their positive opinions on your services on social media sites.

Follow up: implementing a service and just leaving it be is not a good idea in the long run, so be ready to analyse incoming information and results. Follow-up on how your chat service is going and make decisions based on the results you get: if the interest in your chat service is too great you might need a few more agents, if it’s not you may need to change something in your processes. In any case, make sure you analyse your data and learn from it.

 

Chat is a tool companies have been experimenting with for a long time, and the results are already clear to see. Chat can not only help you communicate more effectively with your customers, gaining their trust and loyalty, it can also help you to achieve and exceed your sales goals. Successful business means showing your customers you care – and what  better way to do this than telling them you care in person.

 

[1] Forrester – “Making Proactive Chat Work”, June 4, 2010