Your Customers Are Wired for Instant Support

By Pascal van Opzeeland

Of all customer service tools, only live chat and phone are suitable for instant support. Still, many companies choose to stick to email only. The logic is simple: it’s cheaper.

Note: We originally published a version of this post on Userlike. Check out the Userlike Blog for deeper insights and resources on customer support.

Email doesn’t require an immediate answer, which means you can spread out the variance of incoming requests. You thus need fewer support reps, who’ll have less idle time.

But this rationale is incomplete. A Forrester Research study stated among its results that 57% of online customer will leave your website if they don’t receive a quick answer.

The problem with email is that it ignores human’s deeply rooted desire for instant gratification — one of the main drivers behind consumer buying behavior.

Our Stone Age Brain and the Power of Now

In The Art of Thinking Clearly, Rolf Dobelli describes a research into a common thinking error. Group A is asked whether they would rather receive $1,000 in 12 months or $1,100 in 13 months. Most people opt for the 13-month option; where else would you find a 10% monthly interest rate?

In group B people are offered a slightly different choice. Would you rather receive $1,000 today or $1,100 in one month? Most people choose for the $1,000 today. This is remarkable, because the choice is exactly the same — except that the latter targets your desire to have things now.

This desire can be explained by evolutionary psychology. In the book Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, a convincing explanation is offered on how our brain evolved — and why it’s wired for instant gratification.

According to Harari, our brain developed into its current state during the Cognitive Revolution, around 100,000 year ago. In this time, humans lived as hunters and gatherers. Harari describes a gatherer’s typical working day.

  • Wake up around 10AM from nature’s sounds.
  • Head out to collect some fruits, larvae, and mushrooms for brunch and dinner.
  • Go home, enjoy the food, and chill the rest of the day with family and friends.

You’d work 3 to 4 hours a day, tops. No worries. No stress about deadlines or career prospects. Today was all that mattered.

Evolution can explain humanity’s desire for instant gratification

Things changed with the advent of agriculture. To be successful as a farmer, one should plan ahead, worry about the weather and droughts, and keep emergency supplies. Instead of living from day to day, we became planners.

While the cognitive revolution happened 100,000 years ago, the agricultural revolution happened ‘only’ 10,000 years ago, and the industrial revolution a mere two centuries ago.

According to evolutionary psychology, our brains evolved as instant-craving hunter-gatherers. If you run into some sweet berries in the forest, you’d better eat them fast before the crows would get to them.

Those few years as farmers and industrialists haven’t been enough to change this hardwiring.

In fact, today’s manifestations of mobile apps, widespread obesity, and internet addicts testify to our roots as worriless gatherers. We want to be in touch with our network now; we want to eat that box of chocolates now; we want to be informed about the world’s happenings now.

The Conversion Power of “Now”

Although giving in to instant urges is lousy advice on an individual level, businesses would do good to recognize and play into the reality of this stone age brain.

In marketing, the attempts to connect to instant gratification are obvious. Notice how often companies advertise with words like “instant”, “immediate results”, “same day delivery”, and “24–7 opening hours” — all variations of instant gratification.

Amazon’s Same Day Delivery is a testament to the power of now

But what good is all of this, without instant support? What good is instant access, if you have to wait 10 hours to have your question resolved?

A delay strongly increases the chance of the deal not taking place at all. It gives the customer time to think things over; time to doubt; time to find another option.

By offering instant service you save time for your customers — a noble cause in itself. But playing into the power of now is also too profitable to ignore. Configure your service setup to play into this deeply rooted human need, and you’ll see the returns soon enough.

The power of now explains the impressive results of various studies into the effect of live chat on website conversion. Live chat is the most instant of support tools, since the customer can start a chat as soon as a question pops up.

In a case study, Intuit, the company behind financial products QuickBooks and Mint, placed live chat widgets at different locations on their website. At the checkout process, live chat increased Intuit’s average order value by 43%.

Similarly, in an A/B test case study with EZ Texting, the implementation of a Chat Widget was shown to increase signups by 31%.

Click here for more studies on the impact of live chat.

Set up your marketing, logistics, and support for your customer’s caveman brain, and you’ll set yourself up for instant success.


Originally published at www.userlike.com/blog/

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