By Jim Iyoob
Although an Internet presence has the power to revolutionize an industry, many companies are finding that customers are leaving their websites without purchasing. However, studies show that the customer experience is significantly improved by providing online chat service representatives to answer questions, provide additional information, and resolve customer issues. These studies further revealed that companies investing in chat programs not only received a phenomenal increase in their conversion rates but also were able to reduce their inbound call volumes by more than 20 percent.
The Challenge: E-commerce companies know that it is an ongoing challenge to convert website traffic to paying customers. In fact, studies show that 60 percent of online visitors abandon the checkout process due to complicated service orders, unanswered questions, and unexplained charges. A leading telecommunications provider is a case in point. They wanted to increase online sales and overall conversions in order to meet their aggressive revenue goals. They also wanted to ensure a great customer experience online. In their competitive field, they could not afford to lose a single customer or sale.
Existing Solution Riddled with Issues: The telecommunications provider developed an internal Web chat sales channel, staffed by highly compensated representatives, to meet the needs of their growing online customer base. These dedicated agents were available to answer questions and help close sales through this online chat solution. Unfortunately, though, this solution didn’t meet their objectives. The agents’ close rates were lower than expected and customer feedback showed that they weren’t meeting their CSAT (customer satisfaction) objectives either. They had service levels of only 70 percent. Yet, while they weren’t meeting their objectives, the cost-per-chat contact of $3.51 was well below their cost-per-sales call, which was a nice cost savings. The company needed to find a way to optimize this low-cost sales channel while meeting their sales goals and CSAT objectives.
Solving the Problem Required the Perfect Solution Provider: The company had several options for tackling this issue. They could grow internally and invest in training for their in-house team, or they could outsource to a vendor who specializes in chat sales and customer service. The telecommunications provider was hesitant to outsource because they wanted to preserve their brand and ensure a great customer experience. “Could a third-party vendor really provide the same level of service as we can in-house?” The management team decided to test the waters. They searched for an experienced vendor to help them capitalize on the potential customers browsing the website and tested them against their internal solution. They looked for a partner with a strong background in chat sales that could be up and running quickly with strong results. Their partner needed to be available 24/7 and be able to scale very quickly.
The Selection: After a thorough search, the telecommunications company made their selection. Not only did the agents have proven success in chat sales, but they also offered other practices and had additional experience, including:
- World-class training
- Faster response times
- Quick staffing ramp-up
- Deep business intelligence
- Quality monitoring
- 24/7/365 capabilities
- State-of-the-art technology
A Successful Trial: The telecommunications provider was pleased with the results during the trial period, including:
- Reduced the cost-per-chat session, allowing an even greater savings on this already low-cost sales channel
- Met their SLA (service level agreement) of 85 percent and outperformed the internal team
- Achieved 15 percent close rates, outperforming the internal team on a regular basis
- Generated more sales per hour than the internal team
- Met the average order value goal and exceeded the internal team’s average order by 12 percent
- After the initial trial, averaged 89 percent in customer satisfaction rates
- After the initial trial, reached close rates as high as 20 percent some months, surpassing the previous goal of 16 percent
Based on the results of the trial, the company transitioned the entire Web chat project to this outsourcer. The project expanded from six agents during the trial to more than 200 agents today. Over the past twelve months, chat volume has grown by 90 percent and is expected to increase further as customers continue to move to this contact method. Today, the call center is providing the company with stellar sales and customer experience results along with a 97 percent service level.
[From Connection Magazine – September 2010]