Delivering Awesome Customer Service with Chat

Browser, right-click, open. Search bar, type. Webpage, loading. Chat box, pop-up: "Hi, I'm David, how can I help you today?"

This is an experience to which I'm sure we can all relate as chat has become one of our engagement channels of choice. In fact, 35 percent of businesses now cite it as one of their most important customer communication methods. It's seen a meteoric rise since it arrived on the scene, so let's explore the world of chat, why our customers love it, how it improves our service delivery, and whether we can make it even better.

First, let's define what chat actually means in the world of software and technology: It's the action of communicating by exchanging messages over the internet. Typically, this involves a company representative and an individual who can interact through chat-enabled software. We usually see chat on business websites, self-service portals, and applications to offer support and answer questions.

Chat from Customers' Perspectives

A communication method cannot become the fifth most important to organizations without the backing of customers. So, with the classics of email, telephone, and face-to-face making the list, how has chat risen among the staples of communication? Well, for our users, there's little to dislike about chat. They've already navigated to the webpage, portal, or app, and there's no need to go elsewhere for support. Henceforth, chat allows little to no effort on the part of our customers.

Then, with chat, questions and problems can be answered almost immediately. Customers are given a direct line of communication with organizations rather than a mundane telephone queue, standing in line at the service desk, or waiting for an email reply.

And, finally, the reason telephone and face-to-face remain important to our user base is that they get to interact with another human being who can empathize with and understand their problems. On the other end of the chat box, there's that human interaction our customers crave, so they feel that they're truly getting the support they need.

Easy to access, quick, and supportive: Each of these aspects of chat technology enable the service desk to deliver awesome customer service for users. And it is even better because the rewards far outweigh the effort.

With email and telephone, the service desk has extra channels to monitor, whereas chat is attached to the company's website, portal, or app, so it's ingrained in the services already available. Situated in the heart of business, where knowledge and resources already lie, companies can easily empower users to self-solve. And it gives the service desk a direct line to customers. Forget the back-and-forth of email, operators can gather the information they need then and there to speed up the process.

Chat is not only a fantastic service delivery option right now, but it could be even better for the user and the service desk in the future. How? With automation.

By automating aspects of chat technology with an artificial intelligence-led chatbot, the service desk can save significant time and resources. We can teach AI through an algorithm to answer some of the most frequently asked questions, so an operator doesn't need to constantly monitor the chat. This means that their time is freed for more important tasks, allowing the service desk to further improve customer experiences.

Within our AI algorithm, we can attach knowledge and links for the chatbot to send to customers with FAQs. This way, we can further empower users to self-solve their problems, and should the same issue occur, they won't need to reach out to the service desk at all, hopefully.

While we can allow the AI to complete some of the more mundane tasks that come into the service desk, we can also ensure that we continue to deliver excellent customer support. How? By automatically sending users to a direct line of communication with an agent should their issue be too complex for the chatbot.

Many organizations are already experiencing the benefits of chat technology, whether they've gotten to the point of automating or not. This truly is a fantastic way for us to engage and communicate with our user base. It helps them to get support, feel comfortable and empowered to self-solve, and increases their satisfaction. Plus, it helps us, the service desk, to deliver awesome customer service while also saving ourselves some time and resources.

Hannah Price is a service management consultant at TOPdesk UK. She's also a public speaker, a contributor to a number of industry publications, and a service management expert.