A new report from Zendesk reveals new insights into live chat.
Zendesk is a leading provider of customer service software. Their 2015 Q1 Benchmark report analyzed live chat data from 2,261 companies.
This post summarizes a few of Zendesk’s more interesting findings. For example, live chat delivers the highest customer satisfaction rating among contact center channels with a 92 percent average.
You can download the full report here.
Faster Problem Resolution
Implementing chat in a contact center can lead to faster problem resolution.
Companies that introduced Zendesk’s Zopim live chat software saw a significant drop in API and Web Form contacts. These are channels that customers typically find when searching for support on a company’s website.
Moving to chat allows customers to resolve their problems faster. Zendesk recorded an average chat duration of 10 minutes and 35 seconds. Most companies take an hour or more just to respond to contacts submitted through an API or Web Form.
The grainy graph below shows the percentage of contacts by channel prior to implementing live chat in green. The percentage of contacts after implementing live chat is show in yellow.
Slow Reply Times
There’s still room for improvement when it comes to reply times.
When a customer initiates a chat, they typically have to wait for an agent to respond. In some ways, this is like being on hold when you call a customer service line.
Predictably, customers prefer a faster response.
The average time to first reply is 1 minute and 36 seconds. However, Zendesk noted that customer satisfaction begins to drop once first reply time crosses the 50 second mark.
Another large drop in customer satisfaction happens just after the two minute mark.
An Emerging Channel
Zendesk’s data also shows that live chat is still an emerging channel.
Most companies are seeing very low chat volume:
62 = Average monthly chats per company
Individual agents aren’t handling a high average volume either:
22 = Average monthly chats per agent
Companies with a low volume of chat contacts face a number of challenges:
- Live chat agents typically need to support other channels too
- Training can be difficult when volume is so low
- Scheduling is tricky at low volumes
Live chat offers two advantages over phone that companies could capitalize on.
First, it has the potential to deliver higher customer satisfaction. It’s a perfect channel for today’s multi-tasking, keyboard addicted consumer.
Second, chat’s can be more efficient to serve. A typical agent handles two to three chats simultaneously. This means chat agents have the opportunity to serve more customers per hour than phone.
The key to getting this right is response time.
Live chat has to offer a response time of less than 50 seconds to be competitive with phone. Otherwise, the channel will simply continue to divert contacts away from slower channels.