Web chat the preferred customer service channel, not social media or apps

Consumers prefer to communicate with brands via web chat more so than social media or smartphone apps, a new study by customer service firm Fifth Quadrant has found.

More than 400 consumers and a total of 53 businesses were surveyed for the study that found web chat is the most used medium for customer service queries after social media and smart phone apps. The study noted that web chat was perceived to have the highest suitability for general enquiries, technical issues, purchase or sales related questions, and complaints or service issues.

The technology to facilitate web chat has been around for over five years, but only one quater of Australian businesses today are currently using web chat. However they are catching on, with the use of web chat technology has multiplying over the past two years.

Head of research at Fifth Quadrant, Chris Kirby, says, “Web chat has a great value proposition for consumers. It is a convenient offer of help at an appropriate time.  When carried out properly, it is non-intrusive and simplifies the consumer’s experience.”

Three in five survey respondents reported feeling confident that their web chat services were well resourced and that they would be capable of scaling up support services in demand for the customer. However respondents didn’t feel quite so confident with their social media channels as a way to provide customer support and service with just under half being confident to scale up social media support in that area.

The way the different channels are managed might explain the disparity between the systems. Four out of five organisations left the responibility of the web chats to the businesses call centre/customer service enquiry divisions. Whereas traditionally social media and smart phone services are usually managed by the marketing or IT departments.