Businesses and brands that have outsourced chat services to hybrid solution providers are missing a huge opportunity. Losing control of voice communications to an outsourced live chat provider should ring the alarm with your marketing and sales teams. Marketing and sales communications should ALWAYS be handled in-house unless there isn’t a viable alternative.
I mean no animosity to any company that provides services that hybrid chatbots with live chat support. In fact, it’s the ideal solution for brands who do not wish to be intimate with their customers.
Having any voice at the end of the phone isn’t personalisation. That’s humanisation, which brings its own challenges.
How many brands actually do not want consummate personalisation within their customer's experience, both on and offline? The whole point of the exercise is to improve customer satisfaction and conversion rates.
Personalisation for most website users is about recognition, relevant content and the ability to get answers on demand. It’s an ongoing issue for most businesses but there are opportunities to alleviate some of the pressure with chat marketing. Real-time responses to web visitor questions can be handled by a non-live chat solution. This allows the brand to set the tone of response and learn what is working and isn’t in real-time.
Do you recognise this problem in your brand? Have you been debating this exact problem?
Chat is a very personal experience for us all. Whether that is facilitated in person or by software. When chat services aren’t authentic or relevant your customers don’t engage. But what does authenticity look or feel like to an individual?
The rules of engagement
Let’s focus on what the rules of engagement really are. The State of Chatbots Report 2018 from Drift produced some fantastic results and clarity around user expectations. Here are some of the more interesting facts:
- Between 2017-18, 38% of business customers had communicated with a brand or business by chat and another 15% with chatbots
- 61% of baby boomers and 64% of millennials expect a chatbot on a website for 24 hours access to a business
- 34% of website visitors said websites are hard to navigate
- 31% of users said that the website did not answer simple questions but 64% expect them to
- 28% of users said basic details like telephone number, address and email were difficult to find on a website
- 22% said that the online forms were of poor quality and current conversion averages around 2.5%
- The top 10 use cases for chatbots, predicted by website users are as follows:
- Getting immediate response time on questions 55%
- Getting answers in an emergency 37%
- Resolving a complaint or a problem 35%
- Getting detailed answers or explanations 35%
- Finding a human customer services person 34%
- Making a reservation (restaurant or hotel) 33%
- Paying Bills 29%
- Buying basic items 22%
- Getting ideas and inspiration for purchases 22%
Looking at those poll results, taken with 1,000 individuals, you can see where the opportunities and expectations lie.
How that transfers into usable takeaways
Why outsourcing your chat service is a bad choice and how I validate my statement.
Let me first start with my experience in outsourcing. Before I found my passion, I spent 12 years consulting and employed in Investment Banking. During this period the banks that I worked for outsourced a lot to India.
In fact, I also outsourced elements of my department to an Indian support team. So I have a clear experience to talk to this subject.
And as we are talking experience, let’s look at this element of outsourcing. As it is key to how your customers interact with your brand.
One of the very first subjects you have to broach is the lack of localisation. Quite often hybrid chat services have teams based in Asia and the Far East. This means you often get communication issues due to language and culture.
To be specific, not everybody in the UK speaks the “Queen's English”. Localised dialect and accents can cause issues in telephone communications. This in turn, however you look at it, creates frustrations on both sides and is a bad experience.
Secondly, there are cultural elements to consider that affect communications between the business and the outsourced agents. Sure that’s what you pay the local provider to deal with as part of your fees, but is that wise?
Tone of voice
A brand or business spends a lot of time and money developing a tone of voice and brand communication guidelines. For the sake of costs are you willing to potentially damage your brand reputation and sacrifice your hard-earned consumer equity?
Are those costs far outweighed by your customers discussing with their friends and colleagues their bad experiences? I can think of two companies that outsource their operations that I no longer buy from. They are both very large UK based telecoms companies.
However, there are added benefits of outsourcing, like reducing the cost per head of a UK based customer support representative (CSR). Not paying rent for space to house your UK based CSR and all other associated cost-cutting benefits. But a non-brand managed live chat solution isn’t one of them.
Lack of brand intimacy
When focusing on chat marketing and support. A bad experience is the result of brands and businesses not having an effective communications strategy. When brands are constantly seeking ways of becoming ever more entwined with their customer. Outsourcing your chat service is the wrong thing to do.
In fact, you can do away with a live chat service in some cases. In many business-to-business scenarios, you can set your chatbot to manage simple questions. With an effective chat tree design, you can answer the easy questions and qualify intent upfront.
By doing this, the business manages the tone of voice in chat. The way in which communications are dealt with and the immediate sales opportunities. When marketing and sales combine to design chat tree solutions, conversions have improved by up to 400% - drift.
This increases brand intimacy, answers a number of the requirements raised in the State of Chatbots Report, whilst increasing revenue opportunities.
What is the solution?
In order to come to my closing point. My personal feeling is that a business should never outsource live chat or digital chat to a third-party provider. By all means, bring a trained chat delivery partner in to help integrate the solution but stay in control.
Start to assess your capacity and ability to integrate a platform like Drift into your business and understand the value it brings to marketing and sales teams. But it doesn’t stop there. Drift can also be used for customer support and can work to support teams in multiple time zones. This means you can localise, strategise and iterate all in house.
Therefore you remove the need for a larger outsourced live chat provider and can run smaller localised teams improving the customer experience.