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In online chat, one size does not fit all

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Many of our clients describe a conundrum they face with their live chat team. While they want agents to represent the brand consistently and professionally, they recognize that these people must possess the latitude to show authenticity and go “off script” to build genuine connections.

That means employing a “one-size-fits-all” approach for nearly any organization never works, most notably when brands treat prospective and existing customers the same way. Doing so in the most optimal scenario still winds up leaving money on the table and, at worst case, disenfranchises their customer base. 

Before implementing a chat strategy, companies must develop a comprehensive understanding of what customers — both new and returning — want. Identifying and deploying best practices based on current interactions can drive significant improvements on their own without much retooling. Taking advantage of this low-hanging fruit can move the needle around KPI improvements for practically any brand, and can usually capture about 50% of the additional revenues that were left on the table. Though relatively straight forward to undertake, most organizations overlook this step.

From there, the more in-depth work begins to raise customer satisfaction and sales conversion rates. This comes from segmenting customers – based on demographics, personality, or conversational style – and identifying best practices for each segment. Get systematic in your approach to identify different patterns and styles to utilize. You may find some of the outcomes surprising.

For instance, one of our clients, a consumer wellness brand, discovered that their customer engagement approach should not always mirror the visitor’s tone, even though conventional wisdom believed that doing so built rapport. Many visitors wanted to feel a sense of reassurance and empowerment from their decision to inquire about focusing on their well being.

Simply put, engaging a millennial customer by speaking like a millennial and using emojis can make them think that the company is unprofessional. In this case, we found that an even more professional demeanor worked better.

At RapportBoost.AI, we see the impediments of implementing a robust customer service chat strategy often stems from the inability to engage in retrospective analysis, conduct experiments, and run A/B tests on the conversations between website visitors, customers, and the agents. In addition to identifying best practices and universal themes, uncovering the more visitor-specific conversational cues can come about by utilizing tools that are capable of segmenting visitors in order to help agents and supervisors determine to which group any customer belongs. One thing is for sure. Defaulting to a “one-size-fits-all” method will mostly likely cause current and prospective customers to look elsewhere.

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Dr. Michael Housman

About Dr. Michael Housman

Michael has spent his entire career applying state-of-the-art statistical methodologies and econometric techniques to large data-sets in order to drive organizational decision-making and helping companies operate more effectively. Prior to founding RapportBoost.AI, he was the Chief Analytics Officer at Evolv (acquired by Cornerstone OnDemand for $42M in 2015) where he helped architect a machine learning platform capable of mining databases consisting of hundreds of millions of employee records. He was named a 2014 game changer by Workforce magazine for his work. Michael is currently an equity advisor for a half-dozen technology companies based out of the San Francisco bay area: hiQ Labs, Bakround, Interviewed, Performiture, Tenacity, Homebase, and States Title. He was on Tony’s advisory board at Boopsie from 2012 onward. Michael is a noted public speaker and has published his work in a variety of peer-reviewed journals and has had his research profiled by The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and The Atlantic. Dr. Housman received his A.M. and Ph.D. in Applied Economics and Managerial Science from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and his A.B. from Harvard University.

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