Remember when picking up the phone and making a phone call was the only way to schedule an appointment, make a reservation, or book a flight? I know—it sounds prehistoric. Almost hard to believe that was once our reality.
Technology has transformed the customer journey, and self-service options are now prevalent in nearly every industry. The beauty is, when implemented correctly, automated self-service actually elevates the customer experience—even without a “real human” involved in the process.
Think about it: Instead of waiting indefinitely on hold for the next available agent, travel arrangements can be done with the click of a few buttons online. Restaurant reservations can be booked weeks in advance, and rescheduled just as easily. Even when the situation is urgent—if you just lost your wallet and need to freeze your credit cards, for instance—you can quickly take care of business through an app or web portal.
So let’s talk about chat—and what approach is right for your business.
There’s no way around it. In order to stay competitive, modern businesses need to leverage chat somewhere in their customer service workflow. Here’s why:
- Customers have high expectations. They want to have their questions answered, their requests addressed, their problems resolved. And they want all it done in minutes.
- Customers have options. They’re already shopping with your competitors, looking to make a decision. The experience that is seamless, fastest, and easiest will make the sale.
- Customers have no set hours. Whether it is normal business hours, the weekend, or the wee hours of the night, customers want to be taken care of.
With chat, customers can get answers while they’re active on a website, enhancing their experiences. A customer service specialist can respond to several chats and help multiple customers at the same time.
Meanwhile, tools such as automated lead capture can engage website visitors on your behalf. By applying the self-service model and using automated lead capture, you can alleviate your employees’ workload—and gain some much-needed time for yourself—while still harnessing chat to scale operations and improve customer satisfaction.
How does live chat differ from “automated” chat?
Chat is a term used so broadly that it can get confusing. To clarify, there are two distinct forms of chat support. The one you’re probably most familiar with is live chat, in which a person assists website visitors in real time. The one you may be less familiar with is what we at Ruby call automated lead capture (and which others sometimes refer to as “automated chat” or “chatbots”), whereby a prebuilt conversational flow acts as a concierge, guiding visitors to the information they need.
Let’s break it down.
Live chat refers to human-powered chat support. In other words, responses are coming in real time from a real person. The communication is unscripted, complex conversations are easily supported, and support agents can handle multiple chats at once.
Live chat pros:
- Unscripted communication
- Complex conversations are easily supported
- No limit to personality, tone, overall expressiveness
- Multiple conversations at once
Live chat cons:
- Wait time is dependent on chat specialist availability
- Can be hard to support outside business hours
- Limit to number of concurrent chats
Automated lead capture refers to technology that is analogous to human chat support but is powered by software programming. Communication is scripted and conversations are based on a pattern recognition and preset conditions. Response time is immediate, information is easily collected, and leads can be captured 24/7.
Automated lead capture pros:
- Instant response time
- 24/7 availability
- No limit to how many concurrent chats
- Can collect information and capture lead
Automated lead capture cons:
- Scripted communication
- Conversation is based on preset conditions
- Complex requests can be difficult to support
What is the best way to implement both live chat and automated lead capture?
There’s a delicate balance when it comes to optimizing customer service. You want to scale up and support higher volume without jeopardizing the quality of the experience. And despite all the buzz surrounding automation and artificial intelligence, solutions built purely on technology can feel daunting and impersonal.
Make no mistake: we’re not talking about robots replacing people. In actuality, technology such as automated lead capture can help create human connection, when properly implemented.
In an ideal world, live chat and automated lead capture complement and support each other in the customer service ecosystem. Think of automated lead capture as the base level support—a means of answering frequently asked questions, qualifying prospects, and pointing visitors to readily-available information. Automation is how you ensure your human team members are spending their time only where it matters most.
To determine how best to implement automated lead capture for your business, ask yourself: What are the customer service tasks that take up the most time, but are the easiest to address? In other words: Where’s the busy work?
Where to implement automated lead capture:
- Frequently asked questions with scripted answers
- Status updates that have simple look-up procedures
- General inquiries and simple requests
- Data collection and lead capture
What are the benefits of incorporating live chat and automated chat tools?
As the saying goes, time is money. What’s nice about chat tools is how they save that sweet time-money for you and your customers.
Imagine someone visiting a website, ready to make a purchase, but with a simple question they’d like to have answered first. Maybe it’s a question about delivery options, how long a promotion will run, or whether a different color is available—you get the idea.
Time is of the essence. They want to know the answer to their question and take action as soon as possible, and every second they spend waiting negatively affects their trust in the company and their likelihood of making a purchase. In a matter of minutes, they can go from a ready-to-buy state of mind to abandoning the purchase altogether.
A quick chat is a convenient, effortless interaction that prevents that scenario from ever happening.
- Chat offers a pleasant, more fluid customer experience. It also allows for personalized sales to help convert.
- Chat allows both parties to multitask. A customer can initiate a chat while working, eating, watching a movie, etc. Similarly, support agents can also work on other tasks when waiting for replies.
- Chat alleviates workload for your support team. It reduces the demands on your employees’ time and energy.
Simply put, when it comes to customer service, chat support allows businesses to do more with fewer resources. What’s not to love?
At Ruby, we offer both live chat and automated lead capture, all with an emphasis on maintaining that meaningful human connection that helps businesses thrive. See how it works.