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Why Online Customer Service Should Replicate Brick-and-Mortar

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A customer walks into The Gap and she is greeted by an associate at the front of the store.  It’s such standard practice that she hardly notices - perhaps casting back a casual “hi” before continuing on.  She roams around the store—seeing if any new arrivals pique her interest, checking what’s on the sale rack—before finally making her way to the denim wall.

“Skinny Stretch”

“Original Boyfriend”

“Flare Boot”

She follows the signage and labels to locate the pair of jeans that brought her into the store.  Before long though, she’s feeling overwhelmed and ready to give up because she can’t find them. But then she remembers the associate at the front of the store who greeted her.  She rightly predicts he will still be stationed at the front of the store - likely folding a sagging pile of t-shirts - ready to give her a hand.  Using his headset, he’s quickly able to track down the vintage-tattered, mid-blue-wash jean in her size and she leaves the store triumphant.

A different customer walks into a Chevy showroom.   While watching football games on Sundays he has been inundated with truck commercials.  He is in the market for a new pickup so he did some additional research on the Silverado.  He was intrigued by their claim that their steel-bodied truck bed was superior to the competitor’s aluminum version.  While the evidence in the commercials is compelling, he wanted to see it in person.  He has been an F-150 devotee since his first truck and he’s not sure if he’s ready to make the switch.  

He walks around the parking lot checking out the array of pristine late model trucks.  He is able to look at the truck beds, but he’d like to ask a dealer some questions he couldn’t find on their online FAQs.  And he drove to the dealership to open the tailgate to really inspect the silver bed.  After waiting 20 minutes for someone to offer help, he hops back into his Ford and leaves the lot.

In a brick-and-mortar experience, customers are accustomed to having a helping hand at their disposal. So why don’t we offer that same experience online?

While a growing number of websites now offer this level of engagement, many lag behind.  Having engaged with countless companies on their questions about supporting live video chat, here is a sampling of concerns we have heard:

Do online customers really want to engage with a live person?  If they want this level of help, wouldn’t they just go to a physical location?

For many customers, going online is just a matter of convenience and less about avoiding human interaction.  Gartner notes that as recently as 2014 “nearly 60 percent of customer service interactions required the intervention of a human support agent”.  While ever-enhanced automation and AI may eliminate some dependencies moving forward, customers are not shying away from human support. Since customer satisfaction is critical to a company’s survival and differentiation, many are investing in real-time engagement like never before.  In the same report, Gartner stressed that 1 out of 5 of the largest global businesses will offer video-based chat by 2018 - supporting the growing need to deliver excellent customer experience as a competitive differentiator.

What if my staff isn’t comfortable supporting live video chat?

A live video chat agent needs to convey your brand in the same way on-site personnel do.  For example, Best Buy has had tremendous success with their Geek Squad offering because staff are able to understand and troubleshoot technology issues and are empowered to solve them. Customers know they can get very technical with a Geek Squad staffer because they have been hired for their “geeky” expertise.  Similarly, you should consider what common problems website visitors may bring to your agents, the experience your visitors would expect from the agent, and staff accordingly.

Just like you wouldn’t roll out a promotion without educating your staff on its nuances, there is a process for getting your staff trained and comfortable on live video chat.  As pioneers in the real-time customer engagement space, Vee24 consultants are informed by years of hands-on project experience and ongoing client relationships.  Our live engagement best practices are shared with agents during implementation.  Agents are given opportunities to ask questions to make them comfortable with the technology, the process, and the overall objective of live video chat.

We provide too many products or services for one agent to be able to answer everything? How do we handle that?

The main reason for offering live video assistance is for customer satisfaction. If your agent is able to quickly solve an inquiry, or find a path to resolution, you will have a happy customer. During the Vee24 implementation, we hold workshops that cover your specific business scenarios to understand the best resources to solve them.  Based on this discovery, our technology is configured to maximize call routing to the best available resource - wherever they are located.  Due to this “find the right resource” routing, our customers see NPS scores for assisted engagements averaging 90.

I’m intrigued by live video assistance, but I’m not sure everything I should consider?

As with all new technologies, it is smart to consider all angles.  Whether it’s the customer experience, the technology needs, or vendor capabilities, you don’t know what you don’t know!  To help you avoid feeling overwhelmed, we have developed a Live Video Assistance Vendor Checklist.  Use it to compare features across all vendors as you move through your consideration process.

If you’re interesting in learning more about Vee24’s capabilities and to understand how you can bring your offline experience online, please reach out or initiate a live chat engagement with us right now.  We’d be happy to discuss your unique concerns and set up a demonstration of Vee24 in action.

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