3 Ways Live Chat Will Revolutionize Your Customer Experience

To say that customer experience is the defining competitive differentiator for companies today is quite cliché, but like most clichés, it's rooted in well-worn truth. Companies that provide multichannel customer experiences (CX) significantly outperform those that don't when you look at customer retention, which in turn trickles down to increased customer lifetime value and a lower outlay on new customer acquisition.

With the quality of the customer experience being the difference between retaining a customer for years and losing one after (or even before) a single purchase, it's no wonder companies are constantly striving to identify new opportunities to create the type of customer engagements that will set them apart from the pack. Intelligent assistant live chat provides one such opportunity. Here are three ways live chat can revolutionize your customer experience.

Meet evolving customer expectations.

Research from HubSpot shows that 90 percent of customers now expect an immediate response when they raise a customer service issue with your company. Live chat can help you scale to meet rising customer expectations and deliver outstanding CX by ensuring a consistent customer journey across touchpoints and providing intelligent interactions based on an individual's shopping history, while also giving your customers the aforementioned immediate response.

With half of customers already saying they want customer service to be chat/text/messaging-based, and 44 percent preferring to deal directly with intelligent assistants, embracing your customers' expectations means leveraging live chat.

This is especially true if your target market includes anyone under the age of 40. There are more than 75 million Millennials in the United States alone; they represent a combined annual purchasing power of more than $200 billion, and their use of technology is one of this generation's defining features. The fluidity with which Millennials move from channel to channel and the priority they place on immediacy, convenience, and real-time engagement makes live chat via intelligent assistant an ideal means for retailers to connect with them. Sixty percent of Millennials have already engaged with chatbots in some capacity, and 70 percent of them report that the experience was positive.

Put simply, live chat is a scalable, cost-effective means to engage with your customers on their terms and deliver greater customer care consistency and a higher quality customer experience.

Hear from your customers in their own words.

Think about the last receipt you received. Odds are that if it was from anywhere other than a stand-alone boutique or a mom-and-pop operation, it included an invitation (more like a plea) to go online and rate your experience with the company, with the enticement that you could win a gift card or a free burger for sharing your thoughts. And, if you're like most shoppers, you probably never gave this low-effort attempt at gaining customer feedback a second thought. Your customers are inundated with requests to share their opinions, leave reviews, and rank their interactions, but most of these requests just register as noise.

Live chat can help you cut through the noise and gives you direct access to your customers' thoughts in their own words. What are their most common questions? Where are the biggest points of friction or frustration in dealing with your company? How do they talk about your products? Mining your chat transcripts can help you efficiently uncover and respond to trends in your business and weak points in your CX in a powerful, direct way that surveys and Net Promoter Scores never could. You get the truth straight from your customers' mouths (or fingertips) with no need to cajole or offer incentives, and you can use this direct feedback to refine your CX approach.

Supercharge your human efforts.

While AI-powered automated customer care brings a new competitive edge to retailers, personal interactions aren't going away anytime soon. The new era of customer care is a well-balanced relationship where human customer support goes hand-in-hand with intelligent assistants. Implemented correctly, intelligent live chat assistants can handle up to 70 percent of routine customer inquiries, such as shipment tracking and purchase history, returns, and re-ordering, while human agents are available to tackle complex inquiries that require a deeper level of detail, research, and explanation. With a live chat solution that integrates directly into the customer service platforms used by support teams, the AI passes on collected information about customers and their order histories so agents have full context of their issues and can respond accordingly. This winning combination allows retailers to reduce their costs and increase customer satisfaction through real-time customer care.

Your customers are actively evaluating your company during every interaction they have with you. Instead of scaring you, that knowledge should empower you to make each engagement as useful, seamless, and satisfying as possible. Live chat that allows customers to get answers and information on their own terms provides the type of value and responsiveness that drives outstanding CX and sets your company apart.

Fang Cheng is co-founder and CEO of Linc Global.