The case for digital customer service has never been stronger, as consumers make fewer trips to physical stores to resolve issues and many companies run reduced call center services. While speaking with an agent on the phone remains the preferred method for customer service, it’s one of the most costly options. Plus, agents can only deal with one query at a time. Companies can boost efficiency by offering online chat on site or social media, which enables agents to handle multiple queries at once. Combining online chat with other self-service options such as searchable FAQs can reduce volumes an estimated 20-40%, therefore helping to lower handle times and cost per contact across all channels.
Online chat is the second most preferred channel for customer service, yet adoption is low among financial services companies. Gartner research shows that only 35% of retail banking, 31% of insurance, and just 9% of wealth and asset management companies analyzed offer live chat or a chatbot on the public site. The implementation also varies significantly, as shown by this feature comparison breakdown of the top and bottom five insurance providers with online chat.
Across analyzed insurance companies, Lincoln Financial leads the group with the most features adopted across four categories, including ease of access, expectation management, interaction options, and feedback. During business hours, the chat pop-up is persistent throughout the site. To chat, users must first provide their full name and are given the option to receive the final transcript by email. The service begins with self-service—integrating preset FAQs and presenting answers to typed questions based on content on the site—before escalating to a live representative if necessary.
Brands without self-service support options and online chat miss opportunities to answer immediate questions and prevent abandonment during the final stages of the conversion path. Live chat or chatbots within guided selling or conversion tools can be crucial to minimizing friction for a prospect. But less than a fifth of analyzed companies with insurance quote generators have live chat or a chatbot within those conversion tools. As many brands strive to add that personal touch, providing the function to answer a few simple questions can create a personalized experience.