Call Center Week Retrospective: The Jabber About Chat

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Omnichannel
Customer Service
Many of the conversations that took place at Call Center Week in Las Vegas last week focused on some of the dominant trends in the contact center, including omnichannel support and opportunities for using speech, text, and other types of analytics. One of the topic areas that also generated a lot of buzz at the event is the use -- as well as the lack of understanding -- of chat for customer service.

Many of the conversations that took place at Call Center Week in Las Vegas last week focused on some of the dominant trends in the contact center, including omnichannel support and opportunities for using speech, text, and other types of analytics. One of the topic areas that also generated a lot of buzz at the event is the use -- as well as the lack of understanding -- of chat for customer service.Customers are demanding access to a mix of channels for support and chat is high on the list, particularly among Millenials. According to an Ovum study, the use of web chat to discuss service or business with a company has skyrocketed over the past few years. Yet despite the interest among consumers, many companies have been slow to respond.

One of the most head-shaking moments of the conference occurred during a discussion I had with John Huehn, president and CEO of In the Chat. Huehn was telling me about a conversation he'd had not long ago with a senior executive for a telecom company that was interested in exploring opportunities to reduce support costs via chat. Even though its wireless customers use chat functionality on their smartphones to communicate with their peers, apparently it hadn't occurred to the telco to offer chat as a support option to its subscribers.

Hmmm....

For his part, Huehn saw a "generational opportunity" to provide social and chat support to Millenials who prefer these channels for communications. Industry research and behavioral analysis certainly bears this out. However, as the telco anecdote demonstrates, too many companies are overlooking chat as a viable option for connecting with their customers.

Companies can use predictive analytics to determine those customer segments that want chat support and other omnichannel service options, says Jim Dickey, Vice President and Managing Director, Business Intelligence and Simulation at Peppers & Rogers Group. From there, decision-makers can do a deeper dive on customer data to identify what customers are looking for out of their chat interactions with the company, Dickey adds.

Knowing what channels your customers want for support and to otherwise interact with your company is table stakes in today's hyper-competitive business landscape. As a recent Five9/ICMI study reveals, 47 percent of customers would switch their business to a company that offers them good service and the channels of their choice.

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EXPERT OPINION