Live chat for customer service has been around for years, but customer expectations are continuing to evolve.
According to recent research from Hubspot, 82% of customers rate an immediate response from brands as very important when asking a customer service question.
At the same time, it seems brands are seeing broader benefits from live chat, using AI and chatbot technology for marketing and sales purposes – not just to solve basic service-related queries.
So, which brands are using live chat in innovative ways? Here are just a few examples of note.
Energy supplier, Bulb, uses its live chat tool mainly as a customer service tool. However, it is far more useful than most I’ve come across, for a few reasons.
First, it has a very human approach, using names and profile photos for the agents you are chatting to.
Before this, however, it also pre-empts the chat by offering information based on the user’s initial questions or text, attempting to answer questions before connecting them to a real person.
It also makes it clear what is a ‘bot’ and what is a real ‘human’, which is surprisingly something that many businesses fail to do so clearly.
Truly Concierge is a gift experience company, similar to Virgin Experiences and Red Letter Days. What differentiates Truly Concierge is its online customer experience, which is focused on helping the user find exactly what they’re looking for.
It uses a live chat tool to help narrow down the user’s search, and reduce the amount of time they have to spend browsing (as well as their chances of site or cart abandonment).
With a wide variety of gift experiences available on-site, this type of instant assistance can provide real value to consumers who want a fast and seamless journey to checkout.
Describing agents as ‘experts’ also conveys a sense of authority, helping to draw customers into the chat and guide them down the path to purchase.
Due to increased competition within the cosmetics industry, beauty brands are ramping up focus on the customer experience, specifically concentrating on products and services that are tailored to the individual’s needs.
This is infiltrating into areas that have been traditionally service-based, such as live chat.
Estee Lauder is one example of this, using its online chat tool to offer beauty advice to customers.
The idea is to help customers find the products that are best suited to their skincare or make-up needs, as well as nudge them towards buying. As the user is required to enter an email address to use the chat, this data can also be used for future targeting and personalisation purposes.
Zappos prides itself on customer service, so much so that the category is front and centre on its homepage. ‘Live chat’ is also the first option in this drop-down menu.
Unsurprisingly, Zappos seems willing to go above and beyond to make customers happy, using the live chat tool to help with everything from order issues to narrowing down a search. See below the enthusiastic response I received to my request for a specific pair of shoes.
The fact that the live chat tool is available 24/7 is also quite a feat, proving Zappos’ commitment to the customer – and helping to differentiate it from other ecommerce retailers.
While most live chat tools aim to answer a specific question, HP’s ‘Virtual Agent’ goes one step further and aims to fix product issues in real-time.
It offers users a guided chat to help fix printer or PC problems, using a decision-tree format to provide the right answers.
While this example lacks the human touch (it is pretty clear that there is no real-life communication involved), it is particularly clever in guiding users towards a positive outcome.
Little details like automatically detecting product names and asking the user if they’re on the right track also help to enhance the service.
Overall, it is designed to save users time and hassle, which – when it comes to fixing technology issues – is invaluable.
With more customers browsing and buying cars online, Skoda wanted to start interactions with customers early on in the decision-making journey. To do this, it partnered with Whisbi to create a video live chat tool, combining both visuals and chat.
The ‘Live Tour’ service gives customers a one-way live video stream to a Skoda product host to take them through a 360-degree tour of vehicles in Skoda’s line-up.
The digital showroom concept has also allowed Skoda to launch new vehicles and connect with potentially interested customers. On the landing page for the ŠKODA Kodiaq, a chatbot option appeared asking if the customer would like to see the car live and talk to a product host in a specific store.
A new way for customers to interact with the brand online, it proved to be a success, with Whisbi reporting 48% test drive requests, 10% real car sales, and 2000 overall live tours on the back of the tool.
Find more on customer experience on our topic page.