Okay, here’s the deal:
- Live chat is the preferred channel for 42% of users vs. email (23%), or other social media channels (16%)
- A good 62% of customers expect live chat support to be available on mobile devices. If and when it’s available, 82% of these users would use it.
- Before picking up the phone calling support, 53% of users prefer using live chat.
- Site visitors who talk to an online live chat agent are 2.8x more likely to convert than those that don't.
Is live chat optional for companies right now? No.
As a company, we all know that to provide the best service to our customers, we need to meet them where they are--online. During the previous decade, the need to provide live chat to customers is optional. With an annual growth rate of 24% from 2014 to 2018, the need to introduce live chat cannot be ignored anymore.
Strikingly introduced live chat on January 1st 2016--sort of like a New Year’s gift for our customers. Our goal was to provide faster issue resolution, delight customers and in the process, create super fans. We weren’t disappointed, as were our customers. By the end of the first year, we averaged 96% satisfaction on live chat alone.
(Live chat customer satisfaction is based on a “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” rating provided by the customer at the end of the chat.) Source: Strikingly LiveChat Reports 2016
“I appreciate Strikingly's customer service so much! It makes me love using this web builder website!!!" ~ Gabrielle, jewellry designer
How We've been Doing Since: Global Metrics vs. Strikingly Support Metrics
Phone support has obviously lagged behind live chat in being the preferred channel for customer contact and for a good reason. Live chat is instant, customers can multi-task, it doesn’t require listening to prompts or pressing several numbers to reach an agent, and most of all, it doesn’t have hold times!
Average First Response Time
The average first response time for all industry is currently pegged at 48 seconds. While this number varies by industry, it’s interesting to note that the software industry currently holds an average response time of 1 minute (60 seconds).
Here at Strikingly, we try to respond to our customers in the soonest time possible because we value speed and we respect our customers’ time. Anything can happen within 1 minute. While it’s short for some, it can be somebody’s longest chat wait time. To date, our average first reply time is set to 7 seconds--way below the global and software industry benchmark.
Average Handling Time
Faster response time does not always correlate with shorter handling time. Globally, the average handling time is 11 minutes, and 39 seconds. For the software industry, the number is at 15 minutes and 37 seconds. For us, the average wait time is 12 minutes and 42 seconds.
Average handling time has remained relatively unchanged in the past years. Data indicates that in 2018, chat support for companies have gotten 10 seconds faster than in 2017. The same report, however, states that the shorter handling time doesn’t really indicate quality. In our case, we believe that we can have longer handling times, as long as we’re able to stay within the benchmark while keeping our customers delighted and happy by resolving our customers’ issues at the first contact.
Globally, the numbers for customer satisfaction slightly declines every year. More than just providing after sales service, support has evolved to become product differentiators. Customers are becoming more intelligent in choosing the companies they work with or purchase. To date, the customer satisfaction global benchmark is at 81%, and 93% for the software industry. At Strikingly, we are proud of hitting a consistent 96% since our live chat inception.
Our growing customer base meant that we received more chat queries since we introduced live chat in 2016. A growing customer base also meant an evolving user base whose needs and expectations change. The steady number implies that we were able to scale and adapt to our users’ changing needs. But more than the numbers, it’s our customers’ experience that we truly value.
Our Key Takeaways
1. Healthy mix of email and chat makes customers happy
While 63% of millennials prefer live chat to get answers to their basic support questions, baby boomers tend to prefer the old conventional way of using emails (thank goodness it’s not the snail version!). Despite the success of our live chat channel, we understand that not everyone will have the luxury of time to sit down on their computer and chat. The fact that 99% of consumers still check their email everyday tells us that email is still an important and crucial channel in customer communication.
We offer both channels, email and chat, 24/7/365 because we want to be as reachable as possible while maintaining the same quality and speed. To date, our average first response time for email support is 8 minutes, and average full resolution time is 6 hours.
2. Customers don’t like bots
On any given day, at least 5-7 people would ask if they’re talking to bots when they enter live chat (often, new users). While chatbots can be utilized for simple queries and ticket deflection, 43% of people still prefer to deal with actual human agents, and 34% would only use chat bots to look for a human agent. Chatbots can be cumbersome to work with since they give unhelpful responses, and cannot empathise. In a digital world where everything is automated and digitized, nothing can replace a real life human interaction, especially on chat.
One time, we tried responding with a “Yes, would you like me to help you or talk to a human agent?” just to do a quick test. The user immediately closed the chat and we never did that again.
3. Proactive chat can increase conversion
But you have to be very careful. Since we introduced proactive chats in key stages of the buying and building process, conversion rates have significantly improved. However, too much prompts can also annoy users, and they’d start thinking you’re creepy (believe us, they do).
Trial and error works wonders. Test them out in key steps within your website and if you see any upticks on your metrics, move forward to the next key step.
4. Live chat builds stronger and longer personal relationships.
Live chat isn’t only for supporting customers with their website building issues. Since we introduced live chat, we’ve talked to all sorts of users--from the very angry, to the very happy, and to those seriously depressed because he lost his parents. Our happiness officers had conversations with our users about their dogs, the most recent Avengers movie, and sometimes, how to fit on a wedding dress (and the wedding is 3 days away). Some of our users even contact us to help them with their third party services because the other party ain’t as responsive!
And we talk to each one--providing whatever help we can. Save for a marriage proposal, we can’t really help with that.
Live chat is now available for your Strikingly websites! Activate now and chat your way to more customers.