01 April 2014
A Brief on Website Chat Software in the UK – Past, Present and Future
Talkomatic is purported to be the first online chat system. Created by Doug Brown and David R. Woolley in 1974 at the University of Illinois, it was not until the 21st century that the technology really took hold. The recent acceleration in adoption of website chat software is partly down to a growing number of innovations in SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) technology. Today, website chat software has been identified as a vital tool for converting leads into customers.
A 2013 survey by CallCentre.co.uk (the UK’s most trusted resource for the contact centre and customer service community) shows that 86.1% of businesses in the UK believed website chat software to have a positive impact on customer loyalty and their organisation’s image. Furthermore, customer satisfaction hovers around the 73% mark.
Despite this impressive figure, 64.4% of UK businesses have yet to introduce live chat software to their company website
The reasons why organisations shun this relatively cheap technology are explored in our other blog: 7 Incorrect Assumptions about Live Chat Software. Of the 64.4%, just under half included an ecommerce function in their website, meaning they could have prevented around 21% of shopping cart abandonments (see our whitepaper entitled: UK B2C e-Commerce Revenue Lost to Preventable Shopping Cart Abandonments in 2012).
Compared to the US, UK’s implementation of website chat software is still in its infancy. Judging by the figures, this is because the UK thinks the technology is just a customer service (and not a sales) tool. The CallCentre.co.uk survey also pointed out that 70.6% of respondents who do not yet have website chat are currently investigating chat solutions or planning to do so within the next 12 months.
As the e-commerce environment grows more and more competitive, it is clear that live chat software is set to play a focal role in resolving issues and drawing visitors to websites. Where before advancements in SaaS were responsible for website chat software’s growth spurt, mobile is likely to trigger another uptake rush. Live chat services are already proliferating on consumer smartphones and tablets.
Exact figures vary but by 2015 a predicted three billion people are expected to have direct or indirect access to the internet
This will likely translate into more business and sales; encouraging customers to deliver a higher brand of customer service. Although the infrastructure aspect of the website chat software is covered by the provider, e-commerce-reliant businesses still need to prepare a process and instruct operators on chatiquette.
With the likes of Amazon introducing live person technical support to their Kindle Fire product, there are finally signs that customers in the UK are ready for a more interactive support experience. As website chat software continues to develop, becoming more flexible and better value for money, it will likely pick up even more advocates on this side of the Atlantic.