We deal with banks, retailers, utilities companies and service providers online and the popularity of instant messaging has rocketed since the pandemic.
Consumers appreciate the opportunity to ask quick questions while browsing online and have come to expect to see a chat box pop up when visiting a website.
But should the method be reserved for customer service alone or does live chat have a place in more complex interactions?
For Ela Bayraktar (pictured), 26 from Wrexham, who recently arranged her whole mortgage without any meetings or phone calls – the answer is yes.
She explains how the process went for her: “I’m a first-time buyer, so I didn’t have any previous experience in dealing with brokers.
“I’d saved up my deposit, found the property I wanted and naturally, the first thing I did was search on Google for help with securing my mortgage.
“The options are endless and if I’m honest, it was quite overwhelming but after some searching, I found a broker who advertised no fees for first-time buyers and filled in a contact form to request a call-back.
“After a couple of weeks, I still hadn’t heard anything so rather than chase up my enquiry – I searched online again and found another provider.
“This one didn’t advertise any reduction in fees, but the website was simple to navigate and wasn’t jargon-heavy like some of the others I’d come across. I filled in a quick questionnaire and straight away, I was connected to an instant chat with an adviser.
“After a few more questions, the broker said they had everything they needed and within a few hours, I received an email with a list of suggested offers.”
Service must meet expectations
This experience is the perfect example of the evolving nature of communications, both in the sense of technological advancements and customer expectations.
And not only that, Ela’s decision to opt for another broker in the face of substandard service – despite the fact it may cost more – was extremely telling.
This was not a surprising story to hear. Service comes first nowadays – that’s simply the way it is.
People are time-poor and will almost always lean towards a business that can offer the support they need quickly and efficiently – even if it means paying a little extra.
According to Moneypenny data, 78 per cent of consumers will purchase from the first company that gets back to them following a contact request.
Furthermore, businesses that respond to new enquiries within five minutes are 21 times more likely to convert the lead than those who keep an enquirer waiting for 30 minutes or longer.
It really does pay to be available and attentive.
More open conversations
Live chat isn’t just favoured for its speed. Our research has shown that enquirers using the technology tend to offer more personal information than through any channel.
They discuss their circumstances openly and share their concerns, fears and challenges with ease.
It seems that the act of typing rather than talking helps prospects to be themselves and share the truth of their concerns, which presents a significant opportunity for mortgage professionals.
And it’s not just their individual circumstances that consumers are comfortable discussing online.
Ela not only sourced offers for her mortgage via live chat but also uploaded all bank statements, evidence of deposit and proof of identity via a secure online platform.
“I felt extremely confident from start to finish,” Ela continues.
“Perhaps the fact I work for a communications technology provider helped to allay any fears around cyber security and boost my confidence in the whole process, but it really was seamless.
“From my initial search to application and final arrangement, there was never an issue. No difficulty juggling diaries for a meeting or annoying hold music. I’ve moved into my flat now and couldn’t be happier.”
People like dealing with people, that will never change, but the ability to do so in a way that suits their busy lifestyle is priceless.