24/7 live chat resourcing needn't be expensive

By Andy Soloman, CEO, Yomdel
Live chat resourcing is affordableLive chat is growing in popularity, and more and more businesses are realising the fantastic results that can be achieved by having live chat operators standing ready to immediately answer customer queries. But unfortunately live chat resourcing remains a major hurdle for many businesses which leaves them failing to realise the full potential of real-time online customer engagement.

Providing great customer services is often expensive, and the smaller the business the greater the relative cost, which ultimately puts the solution beyond the reach of many firms. When it comes to live chat resourcing a common mistake made by both larger and smaller businesses is to think live chat can be handled within existing customer service teams as part of their overall tasks and responsibilities.

To a degree this approach can work, especially where there may be a need for high level technical expertise or specialist knowledge, but it is not the best approach. Live chat, unlike other customer communication channels carries with it an expectation of immediate resolution. If you fall down on that basic service level commitment through having no live chat operators available or not staffing up outside standard working hours, you can end up creating a customer disservice and a negative customer experience.

Don't dread it, live chat resourcing is affordable

If the thought of offering 24/7 live chat operators fills you with dread as you assume live chat resourcing will be hideously expensive, think again. Of course, if you were to hire new staff, place them in your offices and then ask them to work exclusively on chat it will be expensive. This approach could work if your business is selling high value items, has a high average order value or has a very healthy gross profit margin.

The truth is that offering live chat lends itself superbly to being outsourced. You can let your live chat provider take the strain of management, recruitment, training, equipment, software and operations, while you can focus exclusively on refining the best possible experience for your customers that will drive your business success.

As you read this, you will be thinking what is this going to cost? Well, before I give you an indication, you also need to consider the top benefits 24/7 professionally executed live chat can deliver for your business.

  1. Customers get their questions answered immediately, no matter what the time or day;
  2. You will see sales conversion rates rise up to 20% of those that you chat to;
  3. Basket abandonment will drop by around 50%
  4. Through increased incremental sales average order values (AOV) should grow by at least 10%
  5. Customer satisfaction scores should hit at least 85%

I can't speak for other businesses, but at Yomdel we recognise that every business is different, and how we price our live chat operator services is structured in such a way to ensure the maximum value and benefit to our clients.

How smaller businesses can afford live chat resourcing

24/7 live chat will win you more business

For websites where there is insufficient traffic to support a dedicated team of live chat operators it is possible to take a blended approach. The advantages are that while it is possible to have 24/7 live chat resourcing, by sharing operators costs will be kept to levels that enable you to enjoy a really healthy return on investment.

And taking the blended approach where you share live chat operators doesn't mean you will sacrifice quality or service standards. As long as the operators are properly trained,  have experience and understand how to quickly answer questions, customers will generally be pleased. And the costs? Yomdel can provide 24/7 live chat with operators for just £16 a day (yes, that's per 24 hours and is fully loaded with all costs, equipment and software). But the cost of live chat services should not be the starting point. There is no point having live chat if you don't have a clear view on the results you want to achieve. So start with the desired outcomes, and then work backwards to see which live chat pricing model will work best.

Larger businesses can have greater flexibility in pricing live chat

If you have enough traffic to keep a dedicated team of live chat operators busy it is possible to consider other options. Depending on the desired outcomes, it is possible to consider a structure based around FTE costs, per chat costs or even on a pay-for-performance deal. The level of cost also depends on the service delivery location or country chosen.

  1. FTE (or full-time equivalent) -- this fixes the costs for live chat resourcing based on the number of operators required to handle the anticipated volumes of chats. Any price will be fully loaded to include all on-costs and such things as recruitment, training, equipment etc. The advantage is that the costs are locked in and known, and any benefits grown from the live chat service are returned 100% to the company once the expenses have been paid.
  2. Per Chat -- A fixed fee will be charged for each chat transaction that takes place. The live chat services costs will be variable and be determined by the number of chats operators handle. Engagement strategies will be carefully managed and agreed with clients to ensure chats are targeted in order to achieve great results. This approach could be particularly useful in a customer service or lead generation environment.
  3. Pay-For-Performance -- Under this model the client pays a set fee dependant on the number of tracked sales or conversions. For a busy online retailer this has the advantage of having no fixed costs, and the revenue being shared between the company and the live chat service provider. Under this model both the client and the live chat operators are incentivised to deliver results.

About the author: Andy Soloman is the CEO of Yomdel and together with the rest of the Yomdels at Yomdelhurst he is passionate about creating fantastic online customer experiences. He is also a rugby fan and is enjoying another great season from Harlequins.