Jeff EpsteinJeff EpsteinMarch 18, 2019


To create the best possible Customer Experience, organisations must think strategically about implementing the tools that will support their omnichannel strategy.

As adoption of live chat increases, simply implementing the technology won’t be enough to set a business apart in terms of the CX they offer.

According to Walker, today’s consumers expect consistent and user-friendly experiences from any brand they interact with, which is why CX is set to surpass price as a key differentiator for consumers by 2020. A business’s CX offerings are no longer just measured against their competitors, but against what consumers know is possible with CX. To meet these high expectations, organisations must be mindful of how to properly service their customers while making good use of their agents’ time. It will also be important to prioritise quality over quantity and ensure customers are serviced on the digital channels they prefer.

Customers are making the shift to mobile in waves and, as this occurs, businesses must ensure they provide seamless and consistent CX regardless of device or channel. The fourth annual live chat benchmark report highlighting the future of live chat and its impact on CX from Comm100, a global provider of omnichannel CX solutions, found that last year, chat queries sent from a mobile device increased to nearly 52 percent, representing an almost eight percent increase from 2017.

As customers continue to pivot their primary device usage away from desktop to mobile, mobile chat optimisation is becoming a critical strategy for all brands, but particularly for those in the consumer services and recreation industries.

Focusing on improving CX metrics alone may not be the best decision for brands. Brands that scored 90 percent or higher for customer satisfaction had an average wait time of 46 seconds, while customers that reported the lowest satisfaction ratings had an average wait time of 25 seconds. While many organisations strive for short wait times and quick conversations, these metrics do not necessarily indicate more efficient agents and increased customer satisfaction. It is easy to sacrifice the quality of the Customer Experience for efficiency, but organisations who emphasise quality of service over arbitrary targets will have an easier time meeting overall business goals.

The report indicates that companies and agents are close to achieving the right balance between speed and quality. On average, chat duration saw a decrease of four percent, with chats lasting an average of 11 minutes and 53 seconds. This continued the trend of shorter chat times, following the nearly 15 percent drop in 2017.

Just as with wait time, companies with a 90 percent or higher customer satisfaction rating had an average chat duration of 12 minutes and 26 seconds – 13 percent longer than organisations with lower satisfaction scores. Having meaningful, personalised experiences that address customer needs is more important than only attempting to lower metrics like wait time or chat duration.

For longer chat durations that take up your agents’ time, AI can step in to help balance out the workload. To ensure resources are used efficiently, organisations can route chats through AI-powered chatbots to offset chat volume and free up their agents for more complex queries. Chatbots with Natural Language Processing (NLP) and machine learning capabilities are now involved in over half of all chat interactions. They’re proven to be able to handle nearly 27 percent of those interactions without an agent, almost a seven percent increase from 2017.

Another tool that agents can rely on for optimising their workload is co-browsing. When an agent can view and interact with a customer’s web browser in real-time, it allows them to troubleshoot issues more efficiently, making co-browsing one of the quickest and most well-received ways for agents to solve customer problems. 

The report found that co-browsing sessions have an average satisfaction rating of 89 percent – six percent higher than the overall 2018 customer satisfaction rating of 83 percent. Customers may complain that canned messages are robotic or impersonal, but when used correctly it can help decrease an agent’s workload without sacrificing quality, which is why the use of canned messages has increased nearly 70 percent in one year.

The benchmark report’s findings indicate that consumers are readily embracing live chat, so long as the focus remains on improving their experience. To stand out from the competition and exceed customer expectations, brands need to focus on strategically implementing their omnichannel customer experience solutions in a way that prioritises personalised, consistent service without putting a strain on their resources.

Jeff EpsteinJeff EpsteinJanuary 7, 2019


Forrester has predicted that this is the year “the backlash against chatbots will begin”, but you could say that it has already begun.

Headlines painting chatbots as a disappointment, and articles highlighting the funniest chatbot fails are easy to find, yet implementation isn’t slowing down. Despite early missteps, brands are eager to learn how to get it right because the upside is considerable: scalable, 24/7 customer service and a modernised, accessible experience.

So, how can companies capitalise on all that chatbots and AI have to offer while ensuring that they adhere to their core customer experience values? The key is to understand what’s keeping customers from having positive experiences with chatbots in the first place.

There are essentially two main obstacles to chatbot success: failing to define the scope of what a bot is expected to do, and striking a balance between bots and human agents. If companies want to succeed where others are failing, they must address these two key areas.

Defining scope and communicating functionality

Bots often fail because of poor design and a lack of defined scope. In order to have a successful, well-received chatbot, companies need to have a clear purpose in mind for a bot, understand what that role entails and then ensure the bot is equipped to execute.

Internally, companies must effectively plan and map their bot’s content and then make sure that externally, customers understand what the chatbot can do – especially if it has limited functionality. A bot should introduce itself and give customers a rundown of its functions so customers understand its capabilities. By giving users clear instructions on how to interact with a bot, companies can keep their customers on track and asking appropriate questions. 

If companies clearly communicate what a bot is capable of and equip it accordingly, escalation to a human agent is needed less frequently, leaving agents available to handle more complicated queries that require a human touch.

Striking the balance between bots and human agents

Even with a well-defined scope, bots can’t stand in for a human in every scenario, and inevitably a chatbot will be asked to do something beyond its capabilities. A primary reason why customers find chatbots to be barriers – rather than gateways – to easy communication is a lack of clear and effective escalation from chatbot to human agent.

We’ve all experienced an annoying phone menu that didn’t offer the option we were looking for and found ourselves repeating the phrase “speak with a human!” until at long last, we were connected with an operator who could help us in a way the automated system could not.

But solving this problem effectively isn’t as simple as including a “chat with an agent” option. While that might seem like an easy fix, it will likely result in too many chats escalating to agents and compromise the goal of automating a meaningful portion of frontline customer service.

The unpredictability of customer interactions makes it impossible to design a frustration-proof bot, but allowing customers to chat with an agent whenever they want isn’t the answer. Chatbot developers need to give brands the tools they need to add a layer of intelligence to the bot-agent relationship.

Bots need to know when to seek help from a human agent – for instance when a customer starts to get frustrated (detectable via sentiment analysis) or when a conversation starts to veer into uncharted territory (e.g. repeated attempts at asking the same question).

Once agents are notified, they can keep tabs on the conversation and take it over if necessary. This way, brands can have confidence that important conversations are routed to agents, and those that aren’t are being handled comfortably by the bot. 

Chatbots have a bad reputation due to poor design and lack of intelligent escalation, not because the technology doesn’t work. If companies get these aspects of chatbots right, they can prevent backlash against their bot. Scoping bots correctly and implementing an escalation process that provides a positive customer experience will help brands avoid frustrating customers while maximising the ROI on their chatbot investment – and those are outcomes that help everyone win.

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