When it comes to in-store customer service, customers are treated individually. A shop assistant or bank worker wouldn’t dream of approaching all customers at exactly the same point they entered the store, offering them the same product irrespective of the customer’s intent. If the customer was a regular then the assistant would know something of their preferences and history and tailor their approach accordingly.

So why do brands persist with live chat that doesn’t take into account a customer’s previous interactions? Why do they risk consumers receiving bad customer service and all the repercussions that come with that?

Using big data for customer service

There has never been more data with which a brand can analyse to better understand its customers and learn their intent, history and preferences. Business intelligence and analytics are not new in themselves though and companies have been using customer data to make targeted offers and personalised conversations for a number of years.

But big data and analytics technology can predict the intent of each customer in real-time, so customer service agents know when to approach someone and what to offer, delivering better customer service and increasing the chances of a sale.

Personalised customer service

My company conducted research last year that showed how consumers are now willing to take action when faced with poor customer service, with more than one-third having switched suppliers as a result of bad service. The survey also showed that more than half of respondents (51 per cent) felt frustrated when companies do not know who they are or what their issue is, despite having interacted with that company via another channel previously.

A successful live chat solution is one that best recreates the personal touch of a real person, knowing when to approach a customer and what they are most likely to require. Existing live chat solutions rely on pre-determined rules when assessing when to interact with a customer and bad customer service online can be just as damaging as it can in person.

With live chat conversations must be a personalised experience, based on the customer’s intent and history. Rich interactive content such as video, maps and graphical product images should be offered where appropriate and the chat window and experience tailored to the customer’s device automatically.

The old-adage of knowing your customer is equally as relevant in the digital age as it was when customer interaction was done in person or over the phone. The key to successful live chat is knowing which customers are self-sufficient and can be left alone to continue their golden journey and which are most likely to require assistance. This insight can only be derived from the analysis of customer big data.