HOW TO COMPETE WITH AMAZON – INTERVIEW WITH CEO KAREN LLOYD-COLLINS OF CHAT2
Interview with CEO Karen Lloyd-Collins of Chat2
The Australian Live Chat Software company.
Good Evening Everyone – My name is Jay Robert from Shop Ferret Daily E-Commerce News. My guest this evening is Karen Lloyd-Collins – CEO of the Australian live chat software company – Chat2.
Jay: Hi Karen – welcome and thanks for your time to talk to us at Shop Ferret News.
Karen: Thanks Jay – it’s nice to be here.
Jay: There is a major event occurring in the online retail Australian market at the moment with Amazon launching its online store.
Karen: Yes – it is a significant time for the Australian retail market. An event we hope that most brick and mortar businesses have prepared for. It’s going to be tough initially to compete against such a giant like Amazon.
Jay: The Amazon Australian launch is this Friday the 24th November, do you have any ideas as to this sudden announcement?
Karen: Actually Jay, a soft launch is expected on the 23rd November, with some of the Australian companies that have signed up to be a part of the initial trial. A major launch will occur on Friday, 24th November, the following day. I am sure this has been timed to correlate with Black Friday and Cyber Monday online sales events! So just in time for Christmas.
Jay: How do you think Australian retail businesses will cope with this major international player coming into the Australian market?
Karen: Australian Retailers have had many challenges from large international players over the years – some have been quite successful like Aldi’s, others like Starbucks have struggled in the Australian market. So it is really up to the Australian Retailer and how they approach this event of Amazon entering their space.
Jay: How do you think they should approach this threat?
Karen: Well, the Australian retail business would already have a presence in the market. If they are brick and mortar you would hope in this day and age, they have an online presence too. It is up to the Australian business to enhance their customer experience and build a stronger loyalty to their product or service – no matter the price. Also to promote that they are Australian, as consumers in Australia are very loyal to products made in Australia.
Everyday sadly I see many poor examples of customer service in Australia – this is an area that needs major improvement. Just last Saturday morning I was needing a modem quite urgently. I phoned the closest telco company– which is one of the largest in the region. I phoned 3 times and there was no answer and not even a message service. I was quite surprised and had to see for myself as to whether this company had closed its doors.
When I arrived at the front door, the shop was teaming with customers. I lined up and after 25 minutes I was eventually served. I just had to mention to the staff member behind the counter that I had phoned 3 times and no one had answered the phone to respond to a simple question. I needed to hear for myself why the phones had not been answered – I was expecting they would be horrified or shocked by my experience and immediately get someone to check the phones. But do you know what their response was?
Jay: Well – I am sure they were surprised by your experience.
Karen: The staff member informed me: “Oh if we are too busy, we don’t answer the phone!”
Jay: You are kidding?
Karen: I wish I was. I actually could not believe I heard that response. I was dumbfounded that a telco company would actually think it’s ok not to answer the phone!
Jay: Yes that is a very sad example of customer service.
Karen: Australian business need to do so much better, particularly with Amazon starting to court their customers. Businesses need to pick up their game and compete on other facets not just price and there are ways this can be done.
Jay: So do you have any suggestions how Australian Businesses could compete against a giant like Amazon?
Karen: Yes – they need to bring the fight right back to Amazon – just like a David and Goliath. Australian Retailers have done this before and they can do it again – they just need to think more innovatively and ask themselves what can they do differently to keep current customers and attract more. Especially in the online marketplace, as consumers have everything they need right at their fingertips.
Jay: Karen – tell me a little about Chat2 and how does Chat2 assist businesses.
Karen: Jay – Chat2 provides businesses with an opportunity to chat directly with their customers while they are online looking at the business website or facebook. It gives businesses the opportunity to find out directly, what their online customer is looking for and to provide immediate answers to their questions. It has been proven that customers who have contacted a business through live chat are more likely to buy from that business and also will tend to buy more.
Jay: So are you saying that Chat2 provides a pop up window for the customer to chat with the business but they are really chatting with a robot?
Karen: No , not at all. Our experience particularly in the Australian market is that online customers prefer a real person to chat with. Live chat in Australia is still a relatively new concept and consumers are still learning about this alternative means of communicating with a business. Consumers are a little hesitant at first to use this innovative technology, though we are seeing it is now gaining momentum and traction in the Australian market. Chat2 software differentiates your business from your competitors, as there is someone there to talk to and answer questions easily and quickly right at the moment they are asking.
Jay: So do you mean business owners have to be on the computer all the time to answer questions from their customers?
Karen: Goodness – no – we all need a break from the online world. You or your staff can certainly be online during the business hours answering questions on chat. Though if you don’t have the resources to do so or you are just too busy – we offer our Chat2 Concierge service from $1/hour where we can do it for you.
Jay: That sounds very cheap.
Karen: Well our aim is to make Chat2 affordable for all businesses. So having a tool like Chat2 allows you to answer chats from your website and facebook, it gives you an innovative edge over the large retail giants like Amazon, that have just started to try and find their place in the Australian market. I am sure Amazon will mainly compete on price, though with a live chat software service, you can be in the online space when your customers are there looking to buy and ask them right away what are they looking for and advise them on how you can help.
Chat2 provides amazing insight into your customers and what you may be able to do better to attract more customers. These are things you may never have thought of before. You are hearing directly from your clients in the moment, finding out what they are seeking and you can advise them how you may help. You may be able to provide a better price, add additional products to attract the sale or even just being there to help can go a long way with consumers. Chat2 is providing the businesses with a tool to engage new clients and build their trust and loyalty with the business. Clients will recall this experience and remember receiving such great customer service they are more likely to return.
Jay: With your Chat2 Concierge Service – how does your team know what to say to the online visitors of a business?
Karen: Jay, you will be surprised at the number of times a business receives the same question over and over again. For example for a reef tour company we are asked everyday – “what do I take to the reef”or “how much for a child ticket?” Sure the answer is right there in front of them on the website, but we are all busy, busy people so we don’t want to read through the pages and pages of a website, we want answers now. These are simple questions and easily answered. We ask new clients for these FAQ’s initially and we build upon them as we start to answer chats for the business.
Jay: So your team must be pretty fast typists?
Karen: Actually we have several tools built into the software to ensure our operators are fast and answer questions easily and effectively. Chat2 has much ai (artificial intelligence) which assists the operator by suggesting possible answers to the frequently asked questions. So the operator only has to type in a relevant word and there are several answers suggested for them to select. These answers have been previously set up by the Chat2 team. So even your new staff have a simple way of learning answers to the FAQ’s when they start with your business. A knowledge base is created within Chat2 software specifically for you. Also we have a voice to text function that allows operators to speak answers that are immediately converted to text, that makes us really fast in answering and responding within chat.
As a part of our fabulous service we set up the FAQ’s for you. Customer service is our number one priority and we want to make your experience with us memorable and exciting.
Jay: So are you saying that even if Amazon is arriving on Australian shores, Australian retail businesses need to think innovatively to develop a strategy on how to compete with Amazon?
Karen: Yes I believe Australian businesses have the passion and the talent to recognise they need to raise the bar to compete with online international giants like Amazon. It’s companies like that Telco I mentioned that will go out of business, as they are not providing the customer service demanded by consumers. If Australian retail businesses are responsive to their customers and provide the service that is being demanded from them, I think they will do just fine.
Jay: So you believe Chat2 can assist with this significant challenge being faced by Australian Retailers?
Karen: Absolutely – it is all about the customer experience with the business. Gone are the days where the only experience customers have, is when they visit the brick and mortar premise to purchase items. The customer experience is now so much more and sooner Australian businesses realise that, the more likely they will survive and more successful they will become. The customer experience now is not just the face to face with your staff, but it also includes their online experience through your social media, email platforms and website. Websites were never interactive but now with Chat2 – they can enhance the overall customer experience, build loyalty with a wider range of clients, obtain a greater understanding of your customer’s need and provide a greatly improved customer service experience.
Jay: Thanks so much for your insight Karen. It has been a pleasure speaking with you this evening about the future of Australian retail businesses in light of the online Amazon giant entering the Australian Retail Market.