Chat-based customer service is growing quickly. But there’s one central question that I think is not being addressed as critically as it should: Is chat acting as a substitute for phone calls? This is a harder question to answer than you might think.
First, to be clear, I’m not talking about chat-bots, i.e. automated self-service, I’m talking about a conversation with a human agent via some form of text-based channel. (Chatbots are an important topic too, which we’ve covered separately here and here, and will revisit shortly.)
If it is proven that a significant amount of conversations that would have been voice are moving to chat, that has huge implications for the 40,000 US call centers, and the $25 billion BPO industry. But note the italicized part of the sentence; That crucial point is often glossed over by analysis of this topic. Why is it hard to get a definitive answer?