Simon Leutogi & Elizabeth Norton
In today’s world, with the advent of the digital age we have a consumer society with access to an abundance of information at the end of their fingertips. Online services such as crowd sourcing, legal services and financial services are packing up their offices and choosing to move to the online realm in search of better profits and lower overheads. What this means from a distribution perspective, is that even though in the past we have relied on traditional methods such as pull/push strategies and intensive, selective and exclusive distribution to convey our services to consumers, this no longer is enough. What it means from a customer’s perspective is, “Am I going to get the same financial service online as I was getting face to face?” As marketers we are always expected to think outside the box to satisfy the insatiable needs of the new age savvy consumers. Now…….it’s all about the customer experience and not just a means of product/service distribution and satisfaction.
Ok, so we have an amazing service in where customers walk into a shop and are greeted by the retail assistant, the channel representative of a bricks and mortar store. You view, evaluate, speak with an assistant if necessary and then engage the service. This is conducted face to face. However, the online marketplace is an entirely different ballgame. Consumers don’t have the ability to walk into a shop front as a means of assessment and we generally rely on “peer reviews” to form an opinion. As far as distribution channels go, online/digital channels are relatively new. Social media, online advertising, SEO & SEM, email marketing etc are identified as common forms of online distribution, but what about customer service? We harp on about the ever changing face of consumerism and the “overall experience” being more important than ever, so why isn’t customer service spoken in the same breath when identifying online distribution channels? CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos is of the same mindset, he reckons, “If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the internet, they can each tell 6000.”
Many people believe that online services are too impersonal. That they lack the important personal interaction enabling customer’s questions to be answered effectively to fulfill their needs or solve a problem. Many also believe they will not get the level of customer service they deserve.
Live Chat for many looks to remedy that notion.
If a positive customer experience (which is the end goal for many businesses) is to be achieved, customer service is vital. So which channel representative gives the highest customer satisfaction?
According to eDigital Research it is Live Chat:
It’s nice to have someone typing, “Hi. Can I help you?” It puts the personal touch back into online shopping. It turns website visitors into valued customers and gives customers an emotional attachment to the business. It allows the business to stand out from the competition with their excellent customer service. Live chat may be the best answer to retail assistants as representatives for the online distribution channel.
Live Chat is a relatively new concept introduced to us consumers by businesses; it’s not considered a traditional channel for distribution by any means but why the heck shouldn’t it? Considering that so called “products” in the 21st century are now defined not only by the product itself, but also the purchasing experience associated with aforementioned product. With the fast paced changes today, its what the future of services may look like. Makes sense to us.
Iacobucci, D 2013, Marketing Management, South-Western Cengage Learning, Mason, USA.