June 23, 2004, 12:00 AM

Marketers look for rationing strategies for expensive live chat option

In contrast to self-service interactions that may cost pennies, text chat’s cost has been estimated in the range of $10 per session. Best practices suggest its most effective use is after a customer has tried self-service, says Kana.

With web self-service CRM costing pennies per customer session, an e-mail about $1 and text chat $10, online marketers who include text chat as part of their CRM programs are looking for ways to ration this more expensive approach and put it where it will deliver the greatest return. Best practices emerging for the use of text chat suggest that it’s used most effectively when it’s offered after the customer has tried self-service, typically in connection with a higher-value transaction, H.A. Schade, vice president of products at CRM technology and services provider Kana Inc., tells Internet Retailer.

Schade says that a knowledge base with complete information about the company, its products and its policies needs to be the foundation of any CRM strategy. Given that, Schade says, “Offering chat after someone already has been offered a way to serve themselves online will be a more successful approach for the retailer. You’re more likely to have success from a cost-effective customer service standpoint than by offering chat to everybody.”

Schade says the effectiveness of text chat is generally measured in terms of improved customer service, but that’s not the only metric. Some multi-channel Kana customers, seeking to encourage greater use of the online channel, are offering text chat more often and to a broader group than they otherwise would. “They are using it not just as a way to improve customer satisfaction but also as a way to drive adoption of the online channel, so they are also seeing improvement in online adoption rate increased and cross-sell and upsell opportunities,” he says.

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