Face to Face or Text to Text?

With online access so prevalent and easy to use by PC, tablet or smartphone, the shift to self service has meant losing the helpful sales person.  With retail, the advantage of shopping in-store was the ability to ask questions and have someone knowledgeable help you make a decision. Online, the move to searching for reviews or information about the item to buy can be more “convenient” but some risk.  The answer is often offering online chat or instant messaging.

Are there marketing issues with online chat or instant messaging, especially for services rather than products?  The answer is yes and no.  For financial services, here are the key factors for being successful in offering online assistance:

  1. Best Reps or Not – the person for the online chat has to be very knowledgeable and well trained about the warning a member not to provide personal information. And, the rep cannot provide financial advice, merely information to help guide. And, they have to be the best at handling customer/member issues. If they are newbies, you will likely shoot your online communication in the proverbial foot,
  2. 24/7 or Don’t Play – You have to be “all in” or do not try online chat or instant messaging.  Having limited access does not meet the needs of the customer/member who wants to do their banking on their own time, not just business hours.  How irritating has it been for you when you wanted to order something online or had a question and were forced to wait until the next business day?
  3. Follow Up or Lose the Opportunity– The use of online chat or instant messaging has become a replacement for many consumers of calling in to a call center.  Consequently, some management teams look at the process the same way – just answer the consumer and that’s the end of the interchange.  However, in the hyper competitive market today, it is important to consider follow-up, either with an auto-responder by email or a phone call from the call center to determine if you can capture the business and/or if they are satisfied.  If you do not follow-up, your competitor who does may get the business.

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