When Proactive Chat Goes Wrong

Well-implemented proactive chat can offer compelling business benefits: increasing sales, reducing call center costs, improving customer satisfaction. Proactive chat availability is growing. But many companies continue to stumble in their implementation, compromising their ability to achieve these benefits.

I’ve recently had two unsatisfying chat experiences that are not unusual:

In the first instance, I was having trouble logging into my account when a proactive chat box appeared asking if I needed help. The offer of assistance began to ease my rising blood pressure. After requiring me to complete queuing questions including my zip code and the product I was inquiring about, I was told that chat couldn’t help me and directed to the 1-800 line.  Clearly the rules to trigger a chat invitation following repeatedly unsuccessful attempts to log in were misplaced. My blood pressure returned to its upwards trajectory.

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Leadership And Self-Deception And Social Media

Five years ago I read a book that changed my life:  Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute, an organization dedicated to helping people, organizations, and communities solve problems created by self-deception. It had such a powerful impact on the way I see myself and others that I have since purchased more than ten copies for employees and friends, and I recently gave it my third rereading. 

Although the book is about personal and organizational improvement and not marketing, a recent experience with my mobile provider made me appreciate how the lessons in “Leadership and Self-Deception” apply to social media.  One of the insights in this book is that behaviors are not as important as who we are. Organizations and people can do the same set of behaviors and get disparate outcomes; the difference isn’t how we do what we do, but who we are as we do it. Nowhere is this more true than in social media.

One way of being is to recognize people as people and the other is to see people as obstacles and objects. The first way of being encourages us to connect with people and do right by them, and the latter causes us to treat people as tasks that must be disposed of as efficiently as possible.  Because people primarily respond not to what we do but to how we’re being, the difference in these two approaches is the difference between an antagonistic relationship seeded with distrust and a collaborative relationship of mutual benefit.  Which type of relationship does your brand want with its customers?

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