Why EarthLink Likes Click-to-Chat

Is click-to-chat a wise option for every merchant’s Website? No, it’s usually not for those who sell low-consideration, low-margin products.

But live-chat customer service does make sense for low-margin items if the customer is a high-value customer overall, or if the contact-center representative can cross-sell or upsell during the process.

And it can work well for certain services, as EarthLink has found. The Internet service provider began offering click-to-chat customer service in 2001. By 2004 the company was using it to handle 15% of its customer contacts.

“This was really huge for us, because our chat agents handle three concurrent chats,” says Mike Murphy, EarthLink’s senior manager, online support strategy. And, depending on call time, “if we’re handling the customer with chat as opposed to the phone, we’re saving anywhere from $3 to $5 per contact.”

That adds up quickly, Murphy notes: “A couple million chats a year for support breaks down into huge cost savings for us.”

Chat is also EarthLink’s highest scoring channel in terms of customer satisfaction and comparable to other channels in terms of issue-resolution percentages, says Murphy.

A chat agent can handle 80 to 100 contacts a day and no topic, including service-cancellation save attempts, is outside their scope, he adds.

Chat currently accounts for about 25% of EarthLink’s customer contacts, adds Murphy.

For more on click-to-chat, look for Ken Magill’s article in the May issue of MULTICHANNEL MERCHANT.

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