How RBS boosted customer service scores to above 80% in online banking using Live Chat. [VIDEO Case Study]

live engagementWe live in an age where brand equity is increasingly being created and defined by the digital experience of the customer.

Think of it this way. In the early days of multi-channel e-commerce the online brand of, say, a high street retail chain was probably an extension of the offline, bricks and mortar offering. Customers liked and trusted a particular store so they didn’t need much persuasion to buy from the company online as well.

Today things are very different. Across a range of consumer-facing sectors – from banking and insurance to retail, travel and telecoms, significant numbers of customers see the web as their preferred point of contact. Banking is a particular case in point. These days, how many of us visit a branch to transfer money between accounts or manage direct debits? The truth is, if we have online banking we probably do it all via a PC, tablet or mobile.

Hence the importance of the digital experience.

It’s a trend that begs a question. If this is the age of the ‘digital brand’, has your business done everything it can to provide customers with the same level of service that they expect when they go into a local bank branch, or a well-run high street store. Or to put it another way, is your company truly ‘digital’ in its outlook? Continue reading

What the engaged 2% can tell us about converting more website visitors

live engagementOnly a small percentage of website visitors will click on a chat button. That’s true of ‘reactive chat’, where the onus is on the customer to click through to an agent, and of analytics-driven, pro-active chat where consumers who need help are identified and invited to speak to an agent. Now we’re talking about a very important minority. These are genuinely interested customers who nonetheless require assistance. And if that help is on hand the chances of a conversion rise significantly and – equally important – the enhanced service provided by the merchant usually equates with a higher level of customer satisfaction and improved loyalty.

But this minority – and it could be as little as 2.0% – are important in another way in that consumers who interact with your agents can tell you a huge amount – not just about their own experience as customers, but also about the silent majority who self-serve.

Think of it this way. Customers who engage with agents through chat – or indeed via the phone, or video chat – are not some entirely separate group. Yes, if you have a proactive live engagement facility in place they will have been targeted in terms of their behaviour – for instance signs of frustration – but they are not a breed apart. The customer journeys they undertake are shared by the majority who don’t engage, and many members of that larger group will have experienced the same frustrations.

So the customers you engage with via chat and other channels are often telling you what you really need to know about the wider customer experience. And that amounts to vital intelligence in key areas. Continue reading

Defining the X factor in live engagement

live engagementWhy is chat so successful in terms of driving sales and improving customer satisfaction rates?

After all, you could argue that it is just another channel, sitting alongside the phone and e-mail. All three provide customers with the means to seek assistance ask questions or register complaints. And yet when you look at the statistics, live engagement via chat is a particularly successful medium.

Here at LivePerson, our experience indicates that chat can significantly increase incremental sales – those that wouldn’t have happened without the involvement of an agent – and there’s also evidence to suggest that chat outperforms other channels in this regard.

For instance, when telecommunications company EE adopted live chat in 2013 as a means to drive revenues and improve service, its agents clocked up 30,000 contract sales over the year. Looked at through another lens, that came in at 0.5 sales per agent per hour – twice the rate registered on the telephone sales channel. In terms of customer satisfaction the CSAT score is well above 80%. Continue reading

How ‘pay for performance’ live engagement tools increased sales by 23% for BT

live engagementIt doesn’t really matter whether you happen to be a finance director, a head of sales or marketing, or a CEO – when any new initiative is put on the table, the first questions tend to revolve around what are the costs, what are the likely returns and what is the risk that the project won’t deliver on its objectives? And of course, that last ‘risk’ question is key. If the project doesn’t fulfil its goals, then any previous calculations regarding costs and returns no longer apply.

The question of whether the costs can be justified by the returns is of particular concern to large organisations running significant contact centre operations. Moving agents from phone or e-mail over to live engagement channels such as chat does represent a significant reorganisation of resources and naturally managers will want to be assured that live engagement will indeed provide a cost-effective means to boost sales, improve service and enhance customer satisfaction. Most businesses would accept that phone hotlines have their weaknesses in terms of real time service, but customers are familiar with that channel so why take the risk of switching (even partially) to something new?

But it doesn’t have to be a risk. For large organisations, LivePerson offers a complete range of live customer engagement tools and channels on a ‘pay for performance’ (PFP) basis. Put simply, we provide the technology and the customer pays for the service only when the desired outcome is achieved. Most commonly, payment is linked to a sale being made as a direct result of a live engagement event, such as a chat session. Continue reading

VIDEO Case Study – Leeds City Council improves customer service & saves costs with Live Chat

live engagementCalling a government department can be an expensive undertaking. According to a report from the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee – the parliamentary body charged with monitoring government spending and efficiency – around 100 million calls made by the public to government offices were charged at a premium rate in 2012/2013, adding £56m to the nation’s collective phone bill. Overall, 63% of calls were charged on premium numbers.

Now it’s not hard to see why Whitehall’s mandarins should think premium charges are a good thing. Running any sort of call centre operation clearly costs money and by charging those callers an additional amount you can claw back some of the expense.

But there is, of course, a problem. In general terms, few of us like being charged above and beyond the cost of a normal call for service that we believe should be part of the deal. In the private sector, if we buy a faulty product and ring a call centre to complain or arrange a replacement, we don’t particularly like being charged for the privilege. Meanwhile in the government/public sector we tend to think that we’ve already paid for services through national or local taxation.

So perhaps government should think of more imaginative ways to save money while improving services in the process. One way of doing that is to move to provide help and information online rather than over the phone, but this too has its challenges. On the phone, a caller can ask a specific question and receive an answer. Online, it’s often a case of searching – perhaps fruitlessly – for information within sites that are packed with content. Often a visitor to the site simply can’t find what he or she wants so the only choice is to revert to the phone line. Continue reading

Why do your online customers love you? Let me count the ways

live engagementWhy do your customers love you? Why do they keep coming back to your site again and again when there are plenty of rivals offering similar products or services, and perhaps at a lower price? Or to put it another way, what differentiates your site from those of your competitors?

These can be tricky questions to answer. Online or offline, customer loyalty is no longer something that can be taken for granted. Consumers may flock to High Street stores to check out the latest products but that doesn’t mean they’ll make the purchase in the shop. In fact, they may well go home and buy online from a competitor. Meanwhile, a huge amount of online trade is driven by price comparison sites. Even if yours is a premium brand, the pressures of commoditisation are never very far away and the danger is that you begin to compete on price and price alone.

My own view is that customer service is emerging as one of the key differentiators for online businesses. The web is mostly a self-serve medium but there will always be times when customers need help. And if the online merchant can provide help in real time – when the customer is still browsing through the site – then that ability to deliver assistance represents an enormous value-add. Put simply, live engagement with customers makes the site stand out from its less pro-active competitors. Continue reading

How Sun Life Direct boosted customer satisfaction rates to 93.5% with live engagement

live engagementLive engagement is a proven means to boost conversion rates but in doing so it can also help you answer some fundamental questions about your website and how it is serving customers.

Proactive live engagement is underpinned by an analysis of customer behaviour coupled with the predictive modelling that enables merchants to identify those points on a consumer’s journey when he or she is on the point of bailing out. Once your customer shows signs of frustration, the merchant pro-actively serves an invitation to engage with an agent (often via chat) who can offer advice and sort out any problems. This makes it much more likely that that the customer will press on to the checkout and complete the purchase.

Why was there a problem?

Now there are many reasons why a customer may become frustrated and some of these may relate directly to the design of the site as a whole or components within it.

Think of it this way. A customer may be frustrated because there isn’t sufficient product information. Alternatively the frustration could arise later on in the journey – for instance, when the customer is filling in an online form which turns out to be overly complex or have certain glitches. At one level these are immediate issues which can be addressed in real time through live engagement. Looked at from another perspective, they can be indications of flaws in the site which can and should be fixed. Continue reading

How EE used online engagement to sell 30,000 mobile contracts

live engagementHow important is the online channel to your brand?

Assuming you do a lot of business online, that might seem like an obvious question leading on to an equally obvious answer. This is, after all, 2014. E-commerce has been with us for almost 20 years. Of course the online channel is overwhelmingly important.

But let’s think about it a little more deeply. If we look back to this year’s Christmas and New Year sales figures it was clear that here in the UK, the retail sector could be characterised by a spectrum running from the winners – those who enjoyed a healthy increase in volumes – across to the losers who struggled to match the previous year’s performance. The underlying reasons behind relative success and failure are always complex but one of the unmistakeable themes was a correlation between improved performance and a focus on e-commerce. To take an example. John Lewis – one of the most successful retailers over the Christmas period – enjoys a huge amount of brand loyalty on the High Street and the company has more than ably transferred that strength to the online channel. With overall sales up, the company acknowledges that growth is being driven by e-commerce. Its digital brand is very strong indeed.

And the truth is that while every ‘multi’ or ‘omni-channel’ retailer has a digital brand, some have proved much more adept than others when it comes to wooing online shoppers. Continue reading

6 steps to a successful live customer engagement strategy

live engagementLive customer engagement can and should be a journey. It can start with relatively basic reactive ‘chat’ and over time build into a multi-stranded strategy across a range of channels and platforms. Equally important, the channels and technologies used to engage with customers can become the prime communications route, replacing the more traditional model of routing queries through hotlines and e-mail.

To put it another way, from small beginnings, live engagement can take you on an up escalator of increasingly effective customer communications. So what does that escalator look like?

1. Setting off
The journey usually begins when a merchant seeks to address a clearly identified and defined problem or issue. It might be, for example, that conversion rates are relatively low, perhaps because the site is selling complex products and customers are dropping out before purchase because they don’t have all the information they require to make a decision. By deploying chat, the merchant can answer those questions in real time.

Equally, on the service side, it could be that the hotline or e-mail system for handling customer enquiries or complaints is overly expensive, inefficient or both. Chat provides the means to answer queries instantly and with one agent able to handle several conversations simultaneously, it is a very cost efficient channel.

Continue reading

Case Study: How Exodus holidays engaged website visitors to increase sales

Live engagementSelling a complex product online can be challenging.

It’s not hard to see why. Almost by definition, a complex product raises questions in the mind of the consumer and each of those questions, unless answered quickly and to the satisfaction of the customer, could be a dealbreaker.

And there is another factor. Complex products are often high value so in terms of your customer’s bank or credit card balance there is potentially a lot at stake. Before spending £50, £100 or £1,000 he or she needs to know that the product on offer is absolutely right. That of course, loops us right back to those questions and the importance of providing answers.

This is where the self-service model – even one backed by comprehensive FAQs – tends to fall down. Sites selling complex and expensive products often have lower conversion rates than those selling simpler items such as books or CDs.

In my last blog I spoke about some of the complexity issues facing travel companies. The travel industry has been revolutionised by the online channel but while customers have become accustomed to the self-service booking of flights, hotels and hire cars, there is still a huge requirement for advice, guidance and inspiration. Live customer engagement provides the means for that input. Continue reading

© 2014 LivePerson, Inc.