Phones Are Important, But Live Chat is the Service Channel for Millennials

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Industry surveys show that 63% of millennials prefer to have their basic customer service and support questions answered via live chat over traditional contact channels.

According to a report by Accenture, purchases made by millennials will comprise 30% of retail sales by 2020.

Age demographics have a real impact on preferences for customer service contact channels, and specifically, live chat. In a recent survey conducted on U.S. consumers, 63% of millennials stated that they prefer to have their basic customer support questions answered via live chat over traditional channels.

Additional Key Findings for Customer Service and Millennials:

  • Millennials were 20% more likely than baby boomers to prefer live chat
  • 56% of respondents have successfully used live chat at least once
  • Convenience and limited hold time were the top reasons millennials preferred live chat

With these trends in mind, integrating and taking advantage of live chat can be a critical function for businesses that need to keep millennials happy customers and avoid long hold times.

Live Chat, The Next Contact Channel Revolution

The technology to chat online in real time has been around for over twenty years. Live chat, as a customer service channel, has been around for at least a decade. Given this, it’s still surprising the number of B2C Websites that still don’t offer live chat.

[Live chat] makes it easy for prospective customers to ask the questions they have, without requiring the level of commitment or effort needed for a phone call or email. And some online retailers raved about live chat’s co-browsing function, where agents can redirect the customer’s web-browser to help them find a product or answer to a question. That function, along with the other benefits mentioned, show some of the value of live chat. It’s a value that can’t be replaced by any other service channel.

-Craig Borowski, Market Researcher at Software Advice

Regardless of customer demographics or the nature of the service inquiry, a significant portion of the general public always prefers live chat to phone support. For this reason alone— not to mention others like cost effectiveness and operational efficiency— businesses that don’t have live chat on their Websites now would be wise to at least consider adding it.

As part of the research for this report, the team at the help desk system reviews and comparisons consultancy, Software Advice, spoke with about 30 businesses that currently use live chat to provide customer support. The overall experiences these organizations reported were overwhelmingly positive. Many drew our attention to the fact that support agents are much more efficient with live chat than with phone, primarily because they can handle multiple interactions simultaneously.

Research Data on Live Chat Efficiency for Customer Service

The numbers back up the suggestion that organizations will need to have a plan in place to migrate to live chat as a primary customer contact channel as their customer demographics begin to shift. Depending on the nature of the business or industry, that need may be sooner rather than later.

For my call center colleagues at USAA and AARP, I know that their target customer base should fall outside the range of looking to live chat as a primary contact channel. But if I’m an educational institution, I’d be sure to have a live chat plan of action immediately.

Live Chat Effectiveness for Simple Queries

In the research data from Software Advice, it’s clear that the preference for live chat usage follows a direct inverse as the customer age demographic increases. This is the reason why educational institutions (catering to younger individuals) must look to live chat over traditional phone-based customer support.

AARP, with their older customer base, might have more time to implement live chat, but will need continue investing heavily in traditional phone-based service options for the time being.

Regardless of the demographic, one clear trend in the data is the effectiveness of the live chat channel to attract customers from all age demographics due to its advantage in reduced hold times.

Live Chat Primary Reason for Choosing Live Chat

Live Chat Customer Service Advantage

Because contact center agents can multitask much more effectively while handling live chat customer cases, it’s easier for organizations to address a larger customer base and higher customer service volumes by channeling requests through live chat service.

Customers realize that companies can address more customer issues over live chat, thus reducing the typical hold time in customer service.

As we’ve already discussed, regardless of customer demographics or the nature of the service inquiry, a significant portion of the general public always prefers live chat to phone support.

For this reason alone— not to mention others like cost effectiveness and operational efficiency— businesses that don’t have live chat on their websites now would be wise to at least consider adding it.

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