Digital transformation is only ever ‘done’ in the same way that a lawn is ‘mowed’.
It’s all well and good to introduce a new software system that digitises a process or service. But in a fast-paced tech space, software often has the shelf life of milk. Within a matter of years, a ‘cutting edge’ system can devolve into a legacy system.
And for contact centres around the world, this process is happening as you read this. Namely, with legacy live chat software. Slowly but surely, legacy chat systems are going to seed in otherwise modernised help desks.
The result? A leaky, live-chat-shaped hole for data, for security, for conversions, for efficiency, and for revenue.Digital transformation is only ever ‘done’ in the same way that a lawn is ‘mowed’. Click To Tweet
The first wave of web chat
When the now-familiar live chat button first started popping up on company websites, customers and contact centres alike welcomed in a new wave of faster, smoother communication. Web chat was slick. It was convenient. It saved time, money, and effort.
But in the early 2000s – the dawn of commercial web chat adoption – the technology was still in its fledgling state. It powered the relay of messages back and forth, but it did little else. Even features considered basic today – file sharing, departmental routing, canned responses – weren’t available.
And yet this wasn’t the problem you might imagine.
Obviously, this status quo was not set to last.
Live chat evolution
By 2010, 44% of online consumers said that ‘having questions answered by a live person is one of the most important features a website can offer’. By 2015, chat had become the leading contact source within the online environment. And by 2023, the live chat market is projected to reach a value of $997 million.By 2023, the live chat market is projected to reach a value of $997 million. Click To Tweet
Such steady growth reflects, in part, our changing communication habits. But there’s also another reason for the surge in contact centre chat adoption. Simply, the technology has improved beyond measure.
From comparatively basic roots, live chat technology has evolved into a sophisticated engine for online conversations. It incorporates a plethora of functions and options, from AI bot operators to real-time language translation to sentiment analysis to omnichannel calling. (To list a handful.)
But contact centres have not necessarily kept on top of these chat advancements. Legacy live chat systems are increasingly commonplace – even as the technology advances month-on-month. In short, many companies have not kept pace with the pace of chat development.
Current contact centre chat
Today, you’d be hard-pushed to find a contact centre not using live chat as a customer service channel. The variations between those chat systems, however, are vast.
First, the live chat market is saturated.
Each of these providers will have a different range of features on offer – some rudimentary, some advanced, some hovering in between.
Then, once a chat system is in place, contact centres are typically reluctant to uproot or drastically change it. Even small updates can take months to be executed – with just 38% of regular users updating to a newer software version immediately.
But there are valid reasons for a reluctance to change the chat system in place. Contact centre agents – sometimes as many as tens of thousands – are trained on that specific interface, with those specific features. Retraining can be time-consuming and resource-draining.
Often, bigger contact centres will also have customisations in their chat design, hosting setup, or configuration. Any drastic changes to the chat system in place, then, can represent a high level of effort in terms of duplicating custom work.
And for smaller contact centres, a lower volume of chats means that the technology is not always a priority. If a legacy live chat system is in place, what does it matter if it still serves the original purpose?
For these reasons – combined with change aversion and simple complacency in having deployed chat in the first instance – legacy live chat has started to entrench itself in the modern contact centre.
The UX of legacy live chat
So, what’s the problem with using an outdated but functional live chat system? While any chat is better than no chat, contact centres using a legacy platform will still suffer.
First, the user experience of a legacy live chat channel is always going to be less than optimal. Perhaps the live chat window looks a little tired and starts things off on a bad note. If your chat window is the visual equivalent of an uninviting receptionist, you’re not off to an ideal start with the website visitor.
Or perhaps the visitor has to wait several minutes for an answer to a common question. (Either because canned responses aren’t auto-suggested, or because no bot operators are incorporated.) Again, this makes for a reduced conversational experience for the visitor.
Then you have more complex chat needs to consider. For example, what if the visitor is struggling with an online process, and needs a co-browsing session? What if they would prefer to speak in another language? How about if the chat becomes more involved, and needs to escalate into a call, a video, or a remote session?
These kinds of user experience issues might not seem instantly damaging. But if your competitors are offering a slick, modernised chat experience, your customers will expect a similar level of service from you, too. And a subpar experience is hardly likely to supercharge customer satisfaction, either.
A data sinkhole
Next, a legacy live chat system is a data sinkhole.
An older platform might integrate with a system or two, albeit in a clunky way. But it’s not going to offer powerful access to raw data, or sophisticated reporting and dashboarding, or rich API-enabled data syncs across your tech stack.
Valuable chat data, then, is either lost or locked-in. Contact centres reliant on legacy systems must either laboriously copy-paste the data they need, or miss out on valuable insights.A legacy live chat system is a data sinkhole. Click To Tweet
Compare this daily data leakage to the latest live chat technology iterations, capable of pushing data into BI suites and offering intricate visual reports on everything from customer sentiment scores to operator performance.
And from the other side of the missed data angle, legacy live chat systems aren’t designed to receive third-party data, either. For example, they won’t be able to pull in messages from external sources such as SMS, or Messenger, or WhatsApp. A chatbot won’t be able to query your database and push needed information into chat sessions. The legacy system exists in its own bubble only.
The result is a series of siloes instead of a smooth, integrated customer support ecosystem.
Next, the security risks of outdated software are well-documented. The older the technology, the less likely it is to withstand an up-to-date cyberattack. Legacy live chat can become a backdoor for malicious users.
In 2017, for example, a cryptojacking script was found hidden away in chat widgets across some 1500 websites. In 2018, live chat widgets were found to be leaking the personal details of company employees. And who remembers when a malware attack found in web chat widgets leaked card information such as names, card numbers, CVV codes and expiry dates?
With an updated live chat systems, you also get updated security patches. Plus, they incorporate smarter security features as standard. Think sensitive data masking, intrusion prevention, the latest encryption methodologies, and so on.
Longevity does not equal invulnerability – and the longer you leave your software untouched, the likelier its security will wither.
Contact centre efficiency
Last, legacy live chat software impedes efficiency. Your contact centre agents haven’t got access to the time-saving features that speed chat handling times and reduce keystrokes.
For example, there’s no hybrid chatbot assistant, no AI auto-text, no chat auto-closure. Though conversations are still cheaper online than over voice call (by some 17-30%), legacy chat will always cost more than an augmented chat.
Consider the smoothness of a fully optimised modern chat experience.
- • The chat system tracks your web visitors
- • The chat button/invitation changes based on the visitor’s profile
- • A bot triages the chat request
- • It can answer FAQ, or transfer to the relevant agent
- • Agents can chat in any language, exchange files, and switch to call or video
- • Third-party messages also stream into the chat system for a central reply system
- • Smart conversational assist tools speed up agent handling time
- • Algorithms analyses chat mood and customer sentiment
- • Supervisors can monitor sessions and intervene as needed
- • Chat session data syncs into your CRM and reporting suites
If you’re using a legacy live chat system, you’re using chat at only a fraction of its true contact centre value.
Retire your legacy live chat system
No longer is chat a standalone contact channel. A broad conversational ecosystem is emerging – one that blends bots, messaging platforms, AI, omnichannel conversations, and a mix of open APIs together with conventional live chat.
Modern, omnichannel chat is a lucrative way to power up efficiency and revenue opportunity.
Simply, a cutting-edge chat platform keeps contact centres competitive, cognisant, and lean in a fast-moving business arena. To upgrade to WhosOn live chat and AI, get in touch with the team today.