By Mouad Aoujil, Delivery Manager Sales Chat at Xerox. Location: Tilburg, Netherlands

Mouad Aoujil

“Consumers are ready for online chat. Early adopters enjoy a competitive advantage as they move towards the future of customer care.” — Mouad Aoujil, Delivery Manager Sales Chat at Xerox

Can you imagine a busy customer care center without the white noise of call agents on their phones? All you hear is the clicking of keyboards as care agents conduct online chats?

I work in a high tech sales customer care environment and strongly believe this is the next step to the future of customer care — and a near future at that.

Being in my mid 20s, I have grown up with the technological boom. I am entirely comfortable using online chat to contact the people I want when I want. Media such as Instagram and Snapchat are now the first port of call for millions of people wishing to communicate with each other.

And it’s not just my generation. People of all ages are embracing the concept of chatting in real time through a keyboard rather than picking up the phone to talk. It feels less pressured than talking but remains an immediate, personal interaction.

We all know that online shopping is huge. Personally, my last 10 purchases have been online. When I have questions before making a purchase, there is nothing that makes me want to break off and make a call. I want to be able to continue my experience online.

I know I’m not alone in this. My experience at work shows that customers feel more comfortable asking questions online rather than calling. I can’t help wondering how many customers are lost because they click away when they cannot quickly find the information they want on a website.

Read: WDS Mobile Loyalty Audit 2014
What’s creating loyalty, and what’s breaking it in today’s hyper-competitive market? A study by WDS, A Xerox Company.

Golden Opportunity

Chat is a golden opportunity to capture the Millennial generation and Generation Z, in particular. As one of them, I feel the need for its early adoption by businesses, but I fear that many aren’t seeing this yet. This is my call to action.

In customer care, the target is always to help people at their first touch point. If online, then that’s through your website, or maybe Facebook or other social media.

No matter how good your site is, customers always have queries. So, by making a chat facility readily available, you gain a perfect opportunity to interact with potential customers.

Customers benefit
Chat is ideal for servicing customers at the first touch point. They feel empowered not pressured. They can be served faster, more completely and in a way that involves them in minimal effort.

Businesses benefit
And for businesses, chat optimizes the balance between profitability and customer experience. It can increase sales and customer satisfaction, while improving agent efficiency and decreasing costs.

High tech, communications and media companies, in particular, are expected to be at the vanguard of innovation and should embrace chat as an efficient and effective stepping stone to innovation in customer care, such as Virtual Agents.

Who’s Noticed?

In my team, we have seen chat agents are achieving an average of 1.9 sales per hour compared to 1.2 by its call agents. And whereas a call agent can only handle one call at a time, chat agents can handle up to three chats.

Elsewhere in the world, chat is fast becoming the dominant channel for customer care in China. And at the 2014 Customer Service Federation Congress in the Netherlands, Achmea, one of the country’s largest financial services suppliers, presented the preliminary results of a chat trial. It showed a sharp drop in the number of calls received, an increase in First Time Resolution from 86 percent to 92 percent, an improvement in customer satisfaction, plus operational savings of 6 million euros. (Details are available, in Dutch, on CustomerFirst.nl.)

Competitive Advantage

The increasing technological mobility of the population is turning chat into the hottest sales and service channel around.

It’s time to drop those headsets and pick up the keyboards.

I am convinced there’s a competitive advantage to be gained by early adopters of chat in customer care. Whether you agree or disagree, please comment below or use the tweet link here.

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