Often it’s the case with online businesses that customer support response times are not considered a central aspect of brand identity. However, whether it’s online or face-to-face on the high street, consumers want to feel important, valued and importantly heard.

Response times online can make or break your business, as according to a recent Customers Report, by 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator, so it’s important to have reasonable and reliable response times as part of your online service in today’s fast-paced world.

How Can Slow Response Times Damage Your Business, Brand And Revenue?

Some alarming statistics have emerged in recent years, most notably in the 2015 State of Multichannel Customer Service report, that details the significant impact that poor or slow customer support can have on businesses in sectors relating to eCommerce and social media.

And here’s why:

  • 68% of people asked said they have stopped doing business with a brand due to a poor customer service experience –  so it can drive away customers in droves!
  • 34% of people consider getting their issue resolved quickly as the most important feature of customer support, whereas only 10% think that finding answers without assistance is a key feature (for example, an FAQ’s page).
  • 61% of people on social media expect a response from a brand in less than 24 hours.
  • 56% of people have higher expectations for customer service than they had one year ago.

Finding the right customer support package for your site, business and brand are essential. Below are a list of support features than can be applied to your website in order to boost connectivity and maintain customer satisfaction:

Live Chat

Live chat technology has been around for a while. Yet, as the statistics show, customers are demanding more immediate attention. Businesses, however, have been relatively slow to adopt a live chat strategy, but the benefits can be huge:

Live Chat Is Convenient For Customers

This technology has the ability to provide the answers that customers want, when they require them. Gone are the days of long and sometimes costly phone calls to busy call centres. Now customers can expect quicker replies that don’t get lost in translation and they can easily multi-task while waiting for a reply.

According to data collected by a e.marketer.com survey, 63% of online consumers were more likely to return to a website that offers live chat. As well as this, the 38% who had used the live chat service said they had only made their purchase due to the chat session itself.

Live Chat Cuts Down On Expenses

Live chat software has consistently demonstrated that it can save on both employee task time and phone expenses. With employees spending less time on the phones, they can multitask during chat conversations, increasing levels of productivity for the company.

Live Chat Increases Sales

For a successful sale, it’s essential that customers have someone who can immediately walk them through it if they’ve become confused or have a question that can make or break a sale. This helps eliminate bounces away from retail websites and ensures that purchases make it from shopping baskets to check out.

Once the customer is connected with the appropriate employee who can answer their questions, they’re in the perfect position to recommend additional purchases that may be the perfect fit for that particular person.

Live Chat Helps You Stand Out Amongst Competitors

Many top retail businesses are still not offering live chat. If you want to gain an edge on the competition, live chat is a key feature that websites must have in order to be competitive and to hopefully rise to the top.

In the same report by e.marketer.com, they found that almost 2 in 10 live chat respondents did more than 75% of their holiday shopping online, compared with 14% of those who did not chat – pretty interesting stuff.

Live chat has to be executed properly for it to work for your business, here are some important tips to ensure you make the most of live chat software:

  • Train your team. Make sure they know the products, how to up-sell and interact with customers in a professional way. Consider hiring people with sales experience.
  • Be aware of your shopping hours. It’s not good having chat software if the times that people are using, no one is manning it.
  • Avoid being robotic. People aren’t and don’t like talking to robots or automated services, so make your chat friendly, yet professional.
  • Be prepared for surges in chat volume. Prepare and plan for times in the day when there are surges. Employ an analytics service on what days and times you experience high volumes and ensure there are enough people to respond.

Beyond Live Chat: The Rise Of Video Chat And SMS Support

Things have begun to progress further than chat and according to a study by HeyWire Business many people are already preferring texting and video chat options to live chat.

According to the survey, 52% of people saying they’d prefer texting as a customer service option and 36% wanted to use live video for support. As well as this 75% prefer texting over social media. It’s clear to see that customers want support to blend into where they’re already spending their time, which is on their phones.

Services like Textus.com, who say that there is a 3% chance of reaching customer via email and a 9% chance by phone, have created exciting and dynamic changes in customer service support.

They’ve introduced a business class, text message service that business owners can operate from their PC’s, which will not only allow them to connect and respond to consumer questions but engage in more direct advertising/sales. This can be a tailor-made service, individual to each customer.

Call Back

With over 60 percent of consumers feeling that even one minute of hold time is too much, a great way to combat this and keep your customers happy is by offering a call back service. This allows people to multitask and continue their day, as well as reducing overall frustration.

Decreased Call Abandonment Rate

Long holding time leads to abandoned calls which in turn lead to higher repeat calls and lower first-call resolution and ultimately dissatisfied customers.

But with the availability of call back service, your customers will no longer have to hang up the calls or think of switching to a competitor due to lengthy waiting queues. They can easily request a callback and go about their day while they wait for an agent to return their call.

Never Lose A Lead

With this technology, it’s pretty much impossible to lose a customer even when they are pre-occupied and couldn’t answer the call on time. As soon as the caller opts for a call back service, their information gets recorded and the suitable person contacts the lead as soon as he/she is free.

Improved Agent Productivity

Upon receiving a call back request from a customer, the agent would be able to access all the caller’s information on his/her screen. They just have to simply click one button to get connected to the customer. This process saves a significant amount of time and effort of the agents leading to increased productivity as they no longer have to search their CRM to get the customer’s information and other relevant data.

Reduced Cost

Long holding time advances to higher phone charges and increases cost for businesses to a considerable degree. But a call back option eliminates this possibility as the callers will not have to spend time waiting in the queue, thus saving a significant amount of telecom cost for the call centers.

Higher Customer Retention

Call back technology allows the customers to never lose their time waiting in the queue. They would be more satisfied and will stick to your brand, ultimately leading to higher customer retention.

It’s clear to see that the world of customer service and support is constantly evolving, so it’s important that your business is able to reply and respond to the needs of today’s consumers. Often this means continually assessing your support framework, ensuring that it’s right package for the kind of customers you cater for.

Remember, you don’t get a second chance to make a good impression!