Live Chat, Real-time messaging or Search?

User Experience

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Most marketers are focused on chasing growth. Whether it’s website traffic, inbound or outbound leads, it’s always good to have more of them. Often communication with the customer at top of the funnel is a primary concern for any growth strategy. Marketers are always in search for the best tools to solve this. Although they don’t have to go too far as they are flooded with multiple customer engagement and support tools such as Live Chat and Chatbots. This post helps you decide what’s right for communicating with your customers in 2018.

Since the digital age began, websites or webapps have taken center stage. They act as customer service representatives. From attracting prospective customers to converting them into paying customers, websites are capable platforms to perform the entire set of functions. It has become more imperative for marketers to make the best use of their websites.

In early 2000s, Live chat came as one of the options to optimize this funnel. Customers could now chat with other human beings to help them with their queries. This was a huge shift that brought a significant boost in customer engagement. But it did not come without hassles. Setting up 24/7 availability, chat-session drops, communication across devices and many more.

As they say, “Where there is a need, there is a solution“. Intercom has been a harbinger of innovation in Live Chat and is constantly making it better. They have introduced Real-Time Messaging that solves major 3 problems effectively:

1. Optimizing messages “when live chat agents are not available”

It is very tedious and costly to setup 24/7 availability of Live Chat agents. If a customer is putting up request at a time when no agent is not around to answer, the company is very likely to lose a lead.

Intercom solves this by giving the user an exact time when their queries will be responded. This helps the user to to set her expectations for a response.

2. Removing “chat session” constraints

Once a Live Chat session is closed, it’s effectively gone. If the operator didn’t respond quickly enough, chats are considered to be “missed” or “dropped”. Users couldn’t pickup chat where they left it.

To solve this, Intercom introduced flexibility of the modern messaging to customer conversations. So you have the ability to have a live conversation at any point.

3. Communication memory across devices

Live chat used to be a disjointed experience for customers as they switch between email and live chat, continually sacrificing the context and history of the thread. Live chat tools were also dumb and used to lose memory when customer switched from desktop to mobile or vice versa.

Intercom has mastered this shift by seamless integration of conversations across all devices.

(Source: All the images above are taken from the Intercom blog)

Intercom has done great to understand the nuances of Live Chat and coming up with fixes for the same. These improvements have allowed Live chat to sustain till now. Live chat was great. Lets say that again:

Live chat WAS great“.

User expectations are soaring and the solutions should too. No matter how much optimization is done on the Live Chat approach, there is a definite limitation due to which it just cannot solve all customer problems.

Cometh the era of “Search”:

If I say that Google has been an incredible product, everyone will nod their head in agreement. The reason I use “HAS BEEN” is that Google did not just invent search engine that we love today but it “HAS BEEN” the best. It “HAS BEEN” the best at improving search engine and bringing us the products that eventually become necessity of the market. Customers have been self-served intuitively by the renowned search engine for over 2 decades now. The time has come this approach is implemented for websites to reap benefits of a self-served system that can solve problems of their customers. Let me tell you some use cases of “Search” on your website in context of what we have discussed before:

1. When live chat agents are not available:

Customers could not care less about unavailability of your Live chat operators. With constantly reducing attention spans, chances are that you would lose your customer.

Search Query, Airim

“Search” solves this by enabling your customer to search for their queries and find instant results. Not only are customers satisfied but you also know what they are searching for. Tracking customers’ journey helps the marketers to understand the perception customers have when they visit the company page along with what they are expecting.

2. Chat Sessions

Search Interaction, Airim

When a customer is searching for information, there is no concept of a “dropped” or “missed” chat session. All search sessions are recorded and shown to the company. This helps in understanding if the customer actually needs chat or not. Thereafter, the company can decide how many customer chat executives they need to employ (the cost of hiring executives can also be optimised).

Moreover, “Search” interactions provides a lot of customer information to the customer executives helping them to be ready with a prompt response.

3. Communication across channels:

Customer doesn’t need to see the search history and path taken by her. All she wants to do is find the relevant result as soon as possible. There is no need to keep a history of communication across devices if the customer’s problem can be solved while they are on that device. It is only when there is a gap in communication when you need to show threads of conversation on separate devices. “Search” makes the entire process hassle free by enabling self-service.

This also makes the conversation threads shorter for the customer and she only has to interact with an agent for very specific queries that are not in the knowledge base (allowing the agent to handle more customers).

Airim has adopted “Search” methodology to help companies help their customers. “Search” is an incredible improvement on Live Chat as it enables customers to find information much faster.

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