One of the most common trends I see when visiting clients is the desire to move phone calls to a more efficient method of support; typically, this means a combination of self-service and live chat.  While the motivation is usually to lower cost, I always point out that both of these methods also increase customer satisfaction if done correctly, but that is a topic for another day.  Today I will focus on how to increase the adoption rate of live chat when customers have become accustomed to calling your organization for support. 

Here’s the key: get them to try it. Our experience shows that once customers have tried chat, they like it and will continue to use it. There are two components to the live chat adoption strategy: how to market your chat program and how to encourage usage.

Marketing Your Chat Program

A successful marketing campaign should clearly communicate the value proposition to customers using every appropriate channel.  Let’s brainstorm some ways you can successfully market your program.

Touch Points – Identify the points where your customers “touch” or reach your company.  This can be a website, IVR (interactive voice response), invoice, email, text message, newsletter, imbedding in a software product, or any other number of ways.  You should focus on the methods that reach the most users. 

Once you have identified the touch points you want to focus on, use these channels to advertise and promote your live chat service.  For example, on your IVR, while a customer is on hold you could mention “the expected wait time for the next agent is 8 minutes, but for instant help try our live chat service.” 

Another use case would be to proactively ask the customer if they would like to chat while they are visiting your website by using a pop-up chat box.  A common place for this would be in your Contact Us or Support section. You can adjust your settings so that when a visitor arrives in these sections of your website, a pop-up chat box offers them access to a live agent immediately. 

You can also promote your live chat by making it more prominently advertised than other channels. Make your Live Chat button noticeable visually and easy to find, drawing the natural attention of the visitor primarily to this means of contact.

Delivering a Compelling Message – Now that you’ve identified the touch points you want to use to advertise your live chat, let’s discuss messaging that will get them to try this new channel.  There are several points of value you can emphasize.

  • Faster service with often no wait time
  • An easier way to initiate contact – just a click of a button
  • The ability to multi-task, allowing other work to be done while receiving support
  • Standard verbiage and canned responses add consistency
  • An almost seamless customer experience allowing the issue to be resolved the fastest way possible, with less transfers/escalations, and less repetition

Some customers will naturally change over to chat because they prefer that method, much like text messaging on a phone, while others will take convincing.  Show them what is in it for them by emphasizing strong value points through the appropriate touch points.

Encourage Usage

After you’ve delivered the message, take actions to “encourage” trial.  Depending on how aggressive you want to be with your transition, you can gently nudge them or force them to the new channel.  Below are a couple of examples that I have seen companies implement.  Keep in mind these are examples and may not be right for your particular situation or goals, but they may at least spark ideas that will help you find your own adoption plan.

  • Shut off the phone queue for an extended period of time, 4 to 6 weeks is ideal, and only offer the new Chat program during this time.
  • Completely phase out phone support; make sure you give a long enough transition period for your customers to adjust to the coming changes.  I would suggest at least 90 days notice before shutting down a phone queue completely.
  • On the less extreme side, you can reward usage with prizes, giveaways, drawings, etc.  Anything to bring some excitement and visibility to the program.  This will get people to start talking and word of mouth is a powerful tool.
  • Post reminders everywhere and make Chat easy and accessible

What other methods have you seen work or what other ideas do you have?  Leave a message below and let’s discuss.