The Essentials of Live Chat
A tool to assist owners and guests—when and where they need it most.
Messaging apps let guests reach staff in real time, but there’s another tool that’s just as effective: live chat, an instant-messaging system on a website. With live chat, staff can reach out proactively to site visitors and set automated chat invitations targeted to particular user needs based on their searches and page views or reactively, based on the member’s agenda.
“Live chat is a full-service experience,” says Shelia Flatt, senior manager of customer-care operations at RCI.com. “We are able to assist with all aspects of a member’s travel needs, account maintenance and customer concerns.”
Flatt says the most common reason a member uses live chat is to book a vacation. If a member’s needs can’t be addressed over chat, staff will contact the member by phone. RCI.com employs up to 30 chat agents, depending on volume of requests, seven days a week during business hours. This includes Sunday, when the call center is typically closed. “It’s important to staff on Sundays so our members can reach someone if needed,” Flatt says.
RCI.com uses Live Agent on the Salesforce platform, but it’s important to clarify your budget and needs before choosing a system. “Determine if your goal is to increase sales, service, or to solve a particular problem,” says Anthony Borrelli, senior sales manager for cruise sales and service at RCI Cruise. RCI Cruise recently added live chat to its cruise page following a positive experience with RCI’s home page. “Every chat platform has unique features, and figuring out your priorities beforehand is key.”
Also consider talking to a resort whose system you admire to get a full understanding of the product’s benefits and weaknesses. “Every chat platform has its own unique features, so it is critical to first identify the goals you wish to achieve to ensure you have the right technology in place to fuel your efforts,” Flatt says. It’s worth tweaking the formula until you get it right. Just look at RCI.com: 2017 was live chat’s busiest year on the site, with 500,000 chats; and over the past three years, live chat has increased the site’s revenue by 1,500 percent.
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