When Bank of Oak Ridge implemented a self-service solution with 24/7 access across their digital channels, they had no idea how impactful it would be. The bank quickly saw their daily call volume decrease by more than 20 percent, while the account maintenance backlog dropped more than 66 percent. Customer satisfaction sky rocketed, and employees gained time to focus on strategic, revenue-driving initiatives.

Live Chat for Banks and Credit Unions: It’s What Customers and Members Want!

Self-service and 24/7 access is what consumers want in today’s digital marketplace. For banks and credit unions this means more than online banking or an impressive website. Not only do consumers want convenient, anytime access, they also want a superior customer/member experience. One consumer support tool that can help banks and credit unions deliver the high level of personalized service customers and members demand is live chat.

Live chat is quickly becoming ubiquitous across the web, with more and more B2C and B2B businesses realizing the tremendous benefits it offers. In fact, according to research by Moxie, “75% of survey respondents stated they would prefer to live chat versus calling to speak with an agent.”

“The rapid growth in the customer centric approach to get insights about customer preferences, have driven the demand for live chat software market,” wrote Reportbuyer, an industry intelligence solution that provides all market research reports from top publishers. “Real time communication is among the vital components for understanding the needs of the consumers.”

The Many Benefits of Live Chat

Live chat offers numerous benefits for businesses looking to connect with consumers online. This is especially true for banks and credit unions that are looking to evolve business models from the in-person, branch model to the online, 24/7 digital service model. Benefits include:

  • Increase in product engagement and conversions
  • Decrease in call volumes
  • Drastic improvements in customer satisfaction

The beauty of live chat is that it offers a tool for banks and credit unions to service customers and members without losing the personal touch or scrapping the customer service approach that has been so important in financial services, for so long.

Customer Engagement: The Critical Factor in Developing and Retaining Customer Relationships

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Some impressive stats on live chat show how impactful the tool can be:

  • 92% of consumers feel more satisfied when they use the live chat feature, according to Zendesk.
  • 63% said they are more likely to return to a website that offers live chat, according to
  • 42% of customers prefer live chat over other digital contact methods (email, forms, forums and social media) according to a study by J.D. Power.

There have been several case studies written on the impact that live chat has on sales and conversions. Bank of America is one such study and early adopter of live chat, remarking that live web chat was a “key part” of their offering — and as American Banker alludes, a primary factor in their recognition as a top bank in Keynote Systems Banker Scorecard. “Keynote Systems is out with its recurring list of the top performing bank websites, and the data behind the data suggests one way to win the hearts and minds is through live web chat,” wrote AB.

Alfa-Bank Belarus was an early adopter who implemented a ten-person support staff, available 24/7 to talk with its customers. It now interacts with 20% of its users via live chat, as reported by the Financial Brand.

What to Consider When Choosing Live Chat Software

If you’re ready to bring live chat to your bank or credit union there are a few considerations to consider. The first decision you will need to make is whether to use a hosted solution or an installable solution. Hosted solutions are simple to set up, and require a minimal investment to get started. With an installable solution, you’ll be hosting the service on your own systems, which will give you greater flexibility when it comes to customization and configuration, but will also require a more significant investment up front. You’ll have full control over your environment, which can be good or bad depending on your goals and in-house IT resources.

For most businesses starting out with live chat, the hosted solution is a good way to go, especially if you are just testing the waters.

Security is another factor to consider when comparing live chat software. Since you may be gathering sensitive customer or member information via your chat sessions, it is critical to maintain a secure environment. Look for a live chat solution that:

  • Uses SSL
  • Encrypts chats or allows you to disable stored chats
  • Let’s individual operators log-in with their own usernames and passwords
  • Specializes in live chat for regulated industries, or those that require an extra level of security

Finally, compare the features that each live chat solution offers. Sometimes features can become overwhelming, so just focus on the ones that you really need to start.

Live Chat Options

There are tons of companies now offering live chat software. Some of the most popular options include:

You can learn more about the features, integrations, and pricing breakdown many of the vendors listed above, here.

As live chat usage becomes more ubiquitous, there are some challenges that banks and credit unions need to plan for:

  • Is your institution able to staff it 24/7? Engageware’s data shows that 54% of all digital support inquiries occur on nights and weekends. If chat won’t be available, are you able to deliver self-service support solutions during that time?
  • What impact will live chat have on your contact center. A Comm100 report found that the average chat session in financial services was 13 minutes, 39 seconds. To improve this, more and more companies are looking to leverage canned responses to expedite chat durations.
  • Live chat usage can double and even triple when added to mobile banking. As mobile banking usage continues to increase, it is becoming the primary channels for many of your customers and members who expect to find live chat in your mobile banking.

Due to these concerns, more and more financial institutions are looking for a blend of chatbot and live chat to better serve their customers and members. Chatbots are utilized to answer more common questions (how do I reset my password, what is your routing number) that bog down your contact center today, while live chat would be used for more complicated questions. The challenge with the chatbot is having the content needed to answer these questions. That is what Engageware’s Customer Self-Service does exclusively for banks and credit unions.

Banking in the 21st century is about delivering the same experience digitally as you do in person to your consumers and members. Live chat can offer you one of the critical tools your bank or credit union needs to grow, compete and deliver a world-class consumer experience.

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