Consumers are spending more and more time speaking with companies on social media, according to Facebook. With much of the US reluctant to leave home because of the coronavirus, the number of Americans reliant on this sort of communication is expected to increase.
Robert LaCascio, LivePerson’s CEO, says the announcement is an opportunity for business owners on the platform.
"We can now deliver consumers the high-touch, personalized experiences they expect in-store, all within the same app they love using to check out the latest fashion, travel, retail, and other trends and share them with family and friends,” he said.
Phone-Based Customer Support vs. Live Chat
By and large, consumers do not like phone-based customer support, which they see as impersonal, laborious, and time-consuming. By contrast, consumers prefer to chat live with a customer service representative online, saying they like that their questions are answered immediately and that they do not have to stop what they are doing in order to get those answers.
“Being able to make it personalized and actually have that meaningful connection with that customer, it allows the customer to feel like they’re talking to a person that cares about them, and that reflects in our customer satisfaction ratings,” said Darren Randall, web chat sales team leader at Bupa, an international insurance firm.
While LivePerson satisfies this preference, it is not alone in the market. Companies like LiveChat, Pure Chat, Intercom, Zendesk, SendinBlue, and SalesForce all provide customer service chat solutions for companies.
In 2016, the global live chat industry was well on its way to become a mainstay in the customer services market, worth almost $600 million. Today, the industry is growing at a compounded rate of 7.5%, expected to reach a worth of nearly $1 billion by 2023.
LivePerson itself has seen astronomical growth in previous years. In early 2016, the company was worth an estimated $26 million—today, that number has grown to nearly $4 billion. This growth is indicative not only of an increased desire for chat-based customer service options online but of the growth of companies that employ LivePerson chat solutions as well.
LivePerson’s Place in the Pandemic Economy
While the impact of the coronavirus on the US economy in the long term will not be known for years, a clear consequence of the virus has been a dramatic increase in online shopping.
In March, April, and May, basic essentials like toilet paper, bottled water, and disposable masks were difficult to find in person and perhaps equally difficult to purchase online. Grocery purchases also spiked in March.
The pandemic economy has also handed global e-commerce giant Amazon its most successful Prime Day event ever, with projected earnings from the 48-hour event expected to reach nearly $10 billion. This is a 43% increase from last year’s Prime Day, a feat that can be attributed in no small part to the rapidly-changing online shopping economy.
While LivePerson does not power Amazon’s customer service chat—Amazon’s own in-house program, Amazon Connect, does that—they do power chats for several giants in their respective industries.
Cellular service providers Sprint and T-Mobile, airline Virgin Atlantic, international banks Citi and HSBC, home renovation store Home Depot, and dozens of other multinational corporations all use the artificial intelligence chat provider.
LivePerson’s announcement is a sign that the company will, in all likelihood, experience continued success, but also that the caliber of the companies with which it does business is increasing. A deal with Instagram, and by extension, its parent company, Facebook, is not merely a harbinger of things to come, but a testament to the necessity of its service to companies consumers themselves respect.
The message of the deal is clear: “companies you respect, respect us.” That message has the power to solidify LivePerson as a leader in the industry.
About the Author
Elijah Labby is a graduate of the National Journalism Center. He has previously written for Broadband Breakfast, a technology and internet policy website.