The changing role of Chat and Messaging in the post-pandemic era

Amit Luthra, global SME for Chat Services for Teleperformance, discusses the increasing expectations of customers in the new normal and how companies can recalibrate their customer experience strategy in the hyper-digital era.


In the wake of COVID-19, a surge in customer enquiries combined with limited capacity has left contact centre companies strained and in need of more agile and efficient service solutions. To combat backlogs of calls and wavering customer satisfaction levels, chat as a channel is bridging the gap, allowing customers to have their questions answered quicker than the traditional customer service process allowed for.

Chat as the primary support channel

The current climate has put immense strain on businesses, and understanding how customer satisfaction differs across support channels will be the key to business continuity. Having become well accustomed to virtual support during the crisis, consumers will be looking for those companies that make getting help easier, and have clearly visible contact options.

Chat and messaging,in particular,is seeing staggering growth.As face-to-face customer service is on hold during lockdown, many businesses’ phones lines are struggling with the large call volumes. Businesses have had to adapt the way they communicate with customers, resulting in live chat bridging the gap between phone and emails. As a result of the crisis,the channel is expected to continue to grow by almost 90 per cent in the next year and a half.

The adoption of chat with live agents has been boosted by all five generations – with millennials assisting older generations in navigating the digital space. Forced to reach out for support using mediums outside of their normal channel options, customers will continue to crave the immediacy of chat services. Experiencing a 92 per cent satisfaction rate, live chat is now expected to surpass email and web form by 2021.

The High-Tech, High-Touch approach to customer care

Businesses have been quick to realise the benefits of routing more resources towards chat. By offering quick help and ease of resolution  in real-time, companies have the best chance of retaining their customers for the long-term.Shorter resolution times significantly reduce the chances of second contact for typically overstretched human agents – alleviating time for higher-value work. Visual engagement tools, such as co-browsing, help in identifying  the root cause of customers’ issues by  collaborating with users who may not be completely tech-savvy. This agility will prove integral to the growth of a company, with Forrester reporting almost a 40 per cent increase in conversion rate for those companies implementing live chat, and 10 per cent increase in average order value.

Convenience aside, customers still value, and often favour, the human element in the omni-channel experience – particularly when discussing sensitive topics, such as health or debt. Businesses will therefore find value in using live chat to complement the work of agents, rather than sacrificing the human touch.

Live chat agents will also be trained in handling difficult conversations, positive phraseology, and social media tone of voice to effectively mimic face-to-face human conversation flow. By leveraging the company’s database as the necessary context – past enquiries and purchases for example –the agent is able to bridge the gap in understanding the needs of the virtual customer, and fully personalise the experience.

In the post-COVID world, where customer contact centres remain limited in capacity, virtual assistance tools will arise as the most available service solution. Chat and messaging have become  powerful, round-the-clock extensions of customer support for businesses, keeping employees satisfied while providing superior customer experience. Most importantly, chat with agents will reign as the most effective means of preserving humanness and compassion in a hyper-connected marketplace, ensuring customers receive a dedicated level of tailored care.

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