In my latest Forbes column, I examine the sorry state of Web chat and how the use of predictive analytics improves both the customer experience and business utility of chat interactions.
Web users are increasingly familiar with an annoying phenomenon afflicting all manner of sites: you’re just browsing around, minding your own business and up pops a chat window asking if there’s anything “it” can do to help (Generally these helpful pop ups aren’t manned by a live agent, but are just a programmatic chat bot). Most times, it’s irritating and the answer is, “No thanks, just passing through.” It’s unfortunate, especially since the site owner is genuinely trying to be helpful, but the overuse and misapplication of an inherently intrusive technology like web chat ends up having the same effect as an animated pop-up ad: it’s an immediate turn off. Indeed, most users are so inured to these things as to ignore them entirely. Most chat invitations are also unhelpful because they’re out of context with what the user is trying to do.
The problem with an automatic, out-of-the-blue chat invite isn’t just that randomly appearing pop-ups are annoying, but are also more likely to be ignored. Remember, the ultimate business goal is higher chat acceptance rates, especially among visitors who are “hot leads” or good candidates for incremental sales. This is where context helps because the key to effective chat use is intelligence, using machine learning, omnichannel data collection and real-time predictive analytics to initiate contact when it’s most needed, provide relevant information based on prior activities and give chat agents background and a frame of reference based on a user’s history and profile.
In this column I contrast the typical ‘dumb’, automatically initiated chat experience delivered by most websites with intelligent chat using real-time predictive analytics designed to assist, not annoy and convert browsers into buyers. I cover the business benefits, advantages to both users and support agents and connect chat to a broader omnichannel sales and support strategy and platform.
Disclosure: Like all independent technology analysts, I provide research, analysis, consulting, and/or content to many companies in a variety of high-tech markets. While the article does not specifically mention any vendor or products, it stems from work done for 7, a customer engagement software and services company. I hold no equity position in 7 or its competitors.