An article in Call Centre Helper recently talked about web chat as ‘a disaster’ because web chats take far longer than calls and customers don’t feel that chat agents are as knowledgeable or as well supported as the voice agents.
I beg to differ. Chat is just one channel that is an essential part of the mix today. It is important to recognise that customer service and the concept of channels has changed beyond recognition in the past few years and talking about a comparison of web chat and voice sounds quite dated – we are now in an omni-channel environment.
Think back to when a common consumer product – let’s say a can of Coke – had a freephone number on the packaging. That was the only way to reach the producer of the product, apart from maybe writing a letter and posting it. Then they all started adding an email address and possibly the option for a web chat.
But now with the proliferation of social networks and customer behaviour changing quite dramatically, customers will often complain or talk about your products without ever once attempting to get in touch via an officially approved channel. Why are we talking about voice compared to web chat when many consumers will tweet their complaint and expect the brand to get in touch with them?
All these various channels are important and each has a place – even the humble written letter is still used by some. But industry commentators need to move on from talking about one channel as better than another. The world has moved on and we now have to support the omni-channel, or just be there easily every time the customer wants support.
Photo by Nuala licensed under Creative Commons