Chat for Modern CX Leaders: Make Chat a Part of Your Omni-Channel Activities to Maximize ROI
Did you know that chat adoption in customer experience (CX) programs grew by 209% between 2012 and 2020? Aberdeen’s January 2012 CX study shows that only 33% of firms were using chat in their CX programs as of 2012. According to Aberdeen’s 2020 CX survey, that has increased to 69% of all organizations — more than twice the increase in a matter of eight years. Also noteworthy to highlight is that 30% of companies participating in the 2020 CX Trends survey note that they have plans to incorporate chat capabilities within their CX activities.
Increased Adoption of Chat
So, what’s driving this increased adoption of chat across companies of all sizes and industries? Many reasons. For one, customers today are more comfortable using chat to buy products / services and request support. Yet another key factor is that chat capabilities have become more advanced thanks to technology improvements. Agent-assisted live chat can now provide agents with visibility into customer interactions across other channels to enable personalization within the chat session that aligns with the unique needs of the customer, while ensuring that the customer experience remains consistent with that across other channels.
Virtual agent / bot capabilities have also become much more sophisticated. Powered by advanced machine learning algorithms, these digital employees can learn and adapt to address evolving customer needs while ensuring that chat sessions are seamlessly integrated with broader omni-channel activities. Forty-one percent (41%) of companies are already using virtual agents to support their sales and service activities, and 29% plan to incorporate it within their activities by the end of 2021.
Chat sessions can now also feature rich-media content allowing customers to share and view videos and images, send and receive links to knowledge base articles, and intelligent self-service capabilities weaved within chat bot interactions allowing customers to check account balances, process product returns, etc. Using machine learning service leaders can even provide agents managing chat sessions with real-time guidance on how to best manage sessions with the help of insights revealed through machine learning and interaction analytics.
While technological advances and changes in customer expectations influence growing adoption and use of chat, they’re not the only reasons why companies are increasingly incorporating chat capabilities. Aberdeen’s research shows that firms using chat capabilities enjoy far superior performance outcomes compared to their peers that don’t. However, using chat in a siloed fashion disconnected from other channels may actually hurt organizational performance, as customers are more likely to receive inconsistent and generic / impersonalized messages across chat and other channels.
To avoid this and maximize the benefits of chat capabilities, Best-in-Class users ensure that it’s seamlessly integrated with their omni-channel activities. Specifically, this means that their activities across chat and all other channels are synchronized to deliver truly consistent and personalized experiences. It also means connecting customer insights captured across all channels and using them in such a way that all interactions across all channels are tailored to the unique needs of each client based on those unified insights. By so implementing these building blocks, top performing firms further improve their performance results and maintain their distinctive position against their peers by delivering top-notch customer experiences while attaining their operational objectives.
The ROI of Chat Integration
Aberdeen’s new August 2020 Integrate Chat with Your Omni-Channel Programs to Maximize Success study sheds more light on the benefits of integrating chat with omni-channel programs to maximize the return on investment (ROI) of chat capabilities. As depicted in Figure 1 below, top performing firms using chat capabilities achieve 9.9x greater annual increase in customer satisfaction rates, compared to their lower performing counterparts using chat in a siloed fashion (27.6% vs. 2.8%).
Figure 1: Savvy Use of Chat Helps Firms Reduce Cost and Grow Revenue
Happy customers reward the Best-in-Class with their loyalty. As such, it’s not surprising that the top performers also report 8.1x greater annual increase in customer retention rates (26.6% vs. 3.3%). Given their success in improving key CX metrics, we can state that Best-in-Class firms that integrate chat with their omni-channel activities ultimately build a distinct advantage in achieving their CX goals, compared to their competitors that also use chat but that don’t integrate it with their activities across all channels.
The findings in Figure 1 indicate that Best-in-Class users of chat also excel in driving sales and service excellence. On the sales side, they achieve 13.5% year-over-year increase in average revenue per contact, compared to a 1.4% decrease by All Others. On the service side, integrating chat with omni-channel activities helps reduce repeat contact that occurs as a result of customer confusion due to inconsistent messages received across chat and other channels. This, in turn, helps reduce incremental agent labor costs, telephony costs, cost of issuing account credits, or reimbursements to mitigate the negative impact of delivering inconsistent customer experiences. As such, integrating chat and omni-channel activities helps Best-in-Class firms achieve 12.6x greater annual improvement (decrease) in service costs (10.1% vs. 0.8%).
The new Aberdeen report on the topic suggests: ‘Whether you’re currently using chat or planning to use it in your activities, we highly recommend that you don’t use it as a siloed interaction channel.’ So, how should you get started with using chat in a truly omni-channel manner? To find out, we suggest reading the related report to learn the building blocks Best-in-Class users of chat capabilities establish to maximize ROI from their chat investments.