March 20, 2008, 12:00 AM

Consumers like live chat feature but want more from it, study says

While consumers like the ability of talking with customer service agents via live chat, they aren’t satisfied with the experience, according to a new study from Forrester Research.

While consumers like the ability of talking with customer service agents via live chat, they aren’t satisfied with the experience, according to a new study from research and advisory firm Forrester Research Inc.

Nearly half of consumers who have used live chat said they liked that they were able to speak with someone immediately, and 32% said they appreciated that the information from agents was personalized to their situations, Forrester found. But only 14% of consumers who have chatted with agents report being satisfied with the help they received in buying a product or service; 15% said they were satisfied with the live chat help they received in researching a product or service; and 28% said they were satisfied with customer service support chat sessions. In addition, 26% said they did not find live chat “very helpful and/or useful.”

To make the click-to-chat feature more valuable, Forrester suggests retailers evaluate their chat functions using the following criteria:

• Could the chat agent handle the required transaction or question?
• Is the click-to-chat button available where needed?
• Is the chat dialogue efficient?
• Can the user retain a copy of the chat dialogue?
• Are text and images legible and understandable?
• Does the chat agent use language that’s easily understood by target users?
• Is the chat dialogue conversational?
• Are the company’s privacy and security policies presented in context?
• Did the chat agent engage quickly in response to the user’s request for a chat?
• Does the chat agent respond quickly to users’ questions?

Retailers should repeat the evaluation with different agents to normalize for any agent-specific experiences, Forrester says.

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