Today’s consumers expect convenient service and quick responses to their questions. According to research by HubSpot, two-thirds of customers expect a response to their customer service, sales or marketing inquiry within 10 minutes or less. In this fast-paced environment, one of the best ways for businesses to meet those expectations is to provide an online chat function on their website. Consumers love online chat because it is quick and convenient, enabling them to get what they need almost instantly. In fact, consumers are turning to online chat in such a big way that the analyst firm Gartner, Inc. predicts 25 percent of customer service and support operations will incorporate virtual customer assistants or chatbot technology by 2020 – a significant leap from the just two percent using it as recently as 2017.
As companies increasingly adopt online chat platforms, it’s important to make sure the solution you choose does everything your organization needs. One of the most important considerations is whether your website’s online chat function can be used for accepting payments and purchases. In today’s competitive landscape, businesses must be able to meet customers in the channel of their choice and quickly complete their desired transaction without sending the customer to another channel. When it comes to online chat, that means businesses must be able to securely accept payments through the chat channel in a way that is fast and easy for the customer, while remaining secure and compliant with the Payment Card Industry’s Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).
Benefits of Online Chat
Whether it is staffed by live agents or artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbots, there are many benefits to having an online chat function on your website. Online chat can help customers get their problems resolved more quickly and reduce the cost of service by leveraging chatbots to answer common questions or resolve routine requests. Online chat can also help businesses discover previously unidentified customer pain points by reviewing chat histories to see what issues customers are having or what questions they are asking most often. Most importantly, online chat can help increase sales by converting more website visitors to leads and helping move leads further through the sales funnel to purchase.
When it comes to enabling this last step in the sales funnel – the point of purchase – businesses must ensure that they are not only providing a seamless process for customers but also a secure one. For example, it would be neither secure nor compliant to have customers type their sensitive payment card information and personally identifiable information (PII) in the chat window for an agent or chatbot to process. Yet at the same time, it can harm the customer experience to send the customer to a different channel in order to complete their transaction through a separate e-commerce platform or third-party payment processor. Businesses need an online chat solution that can securely accept payments without inconveniencing the customer.
Securing Payments in the Chat Channel
If your organization’s current online chat solution does not enable easy and secure payments, there is no need to go back to the drawing board and search for a new solution. Rather, there are payment solutions that are platform agnostic and can easily integrate with any online chat solution as well as any payment service provider (PSP).
Semafone Cardprotect Relay+™ enables businesses to securely take payments anywhere and across any digital customer engagement channel, without the need to invest in costly hardware or enter into closed payment ecosystems. It integrates easily with any third-party applications including online chat platforms. Online chat agents or even AI chatbots can simply generate a secure payment hyperlink and send it to the customer via the chat window. Customers follow the link and enter their payment details using whichever payment method they choose. Their payment details are encrypted and securely routed to the PSP, so the sensitive data is never seen by the agent and never touches the chatbot software or the network infrastructure.
In addition to enabling payments through online chat, Cardprotect Relay+ also provides real-time progress updates that inform the merchant when the link has been used, when payment information has been collected, whether the payment was approved by the PSP and other critical steps in the process. If the customer has trouble at any point, the online chat agent can see this and offer help, leading to increased conversion rates. When combined with website analytics, these relayed real-time payments progress updates provide businesses with powerful insights into the desires and behaviors of website visitors and customers, the status of collected payments, and the effectiveness of marketing programs and support channels like online chat.
Easing PCI DSS Compliance in the Chat Channel
In addition to ensuring their online chat channel is secure, businesses must also ensure that any payments they accept through the channel are compliant with PCI DSS as well as a number of other regulations such as the GDPR and CCPA. Maintaining compliance not only helps protect customers’ sensitive information, but can also help protect the company’s brand reputation by reducing the risk of suffering a headline-grabbing data breach. Because Cardprotect Relay+ securely routes the sensitive payment card information directly to the PSP, it keeps the sensitive payment data out of the business’ network infrastructure and keeps the chat channel completely out of the scope of compliance – making compliance easy and far less costly.
Whether powered by AI chatbots or live agents, the use of online chat is growing rapidly and these platforms are playing an increasingly important role in companies’ digital sales and support strategies. Online chat enables businesses to respond quickly to customer inquiries. Whereas it can take hours for a customer to receive a response on social media or via email, online chat solutions provide a response in minutes or seconds. As businesses continue on the path to digital transformation, those that want to be positioned for success both now and in the future will look to not only adopt online chat, but also enable secure payments and purchases through this fast-growing channel. This will enable them to increase sales and provide a superior customer experience while protecting customer data at the same time, all while meeting the expectations of today’s increasingly digital consumers.