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Cynthia Clark | April 5, 2012

Chat Seen as Customer Service of the Future



Social media and mobile phones have changed the way many people view the world. But the impact hasn't solely been on connectivity, as social channels and text messages gave rise to new ways of communication using text.

The prevalence in text-based communication has increased the popularity of chat for customer service use, according to Jeremy Sokolic, senior vice president of marketing at LivePerson. "Text-based communication has become second nature," he said during a recent conversation.

I experienced the convenience of chat firsthand last week. I was browsing through Thomas Pink's website for a particular shirt for my husband when I received an invite to chat with an agent. Since I was already considering contacting the nearest store--which was still closed at 7am--to check whether they had that particular shirt in stock, I accepted the invite. Within a couple of minutes Emma, the chat agent, was able to find out that the shirt was available in the color, cut, and size I needed at a Thomas Pink close by and I was able to go directly to the store to purchase it.

Sokolic said chat adoption has more than doubled in the past two years and everything indicates that this mode of communication will only become stronger in the future. "We believe that chat will become the default mechanism for customers with service requests," he said.

This isn't surprising, especially since an increasing number of companies are proactively offering their customers the opportunity to chat, pinpointing instances during the online experience that indicate that the customer might need help. Sokolic points out that a big part of chat's popularity lies in the fact that both customers and contact center staff are able to multitask during their interaction. However, there is still a real-time aspect that's very attractive for customers who need to resolve issues immediately. In fact, as Sokolic points out, chat offers instant replies while allowing the customer to continue doing other tasks.

Additionally, the prevalence of smartphones is likely to increase the popularity of chat. For example, customers are already scanning QR codes in store to connect with an agent who can answer their questions and help them complete a purchase. Sokolic says enormous growth is expected in this field over the next three to five years, making mobile chat a regularly used and sought mode of communication for customers.


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