The Evolution of Live Chat and Its Role in BPO

Can you imagine life and work without live chat? For many of us, the answer is a resounding ‘no’. This functionality has become key to our professional and personal lives, but where did live chat come from, and how have we arrived at this point?

The Live Chat Timeline

In a twist that may be a little unexpected to many, the story of live chat tools begins even before the arrival of the internet. Way back in the 1970s, a team of computer scientists working at the University of Illinois began to develop an open-text document that would enable users to report bugs in the PLATO computer system, and a new form of communication was born.

Noticing the far-reaching potential of this technology, system programmers Doug Brown and David Woolley created what was essentially the world’s first digital chatroom in 1973. Talkomatic was a photochat tool that could host up to five users, delivering real-time chat capabilities for the first time ever. This would later be refined into Term-talk — another application for the PLATO system — which resembles the chat tools still in use to this day.

The Arrival of the Internet

While other applications would emerge in the intervening years, it was the arrival of the internet in the 1990s that would really take live chat to the next level. First, chat rooms gave users the opportunity to discuss topics and share opinions in forums via their web browsers. However, standalone applications like AOL’s AIM, Yahoo’s Messenger, and Microsoft’s MSN, all released in the final years of the decade, largely changed the game. More intuitive functionality made it possible to hold natural-feeling conversations with other users, removing much of the stilted experience of chatting via a forum and essentially creating a whole new language of digital online speak.

Chat Takes Over

Since then, chat has basically become inseparable from our daily lives — just in the same way that chatting vocally to friends and family is a big part of what makes us human. Our smartphones, computers and other devices are likely to feature a number of different apps that can be used for instant messaging, and we will often use these apps for talking to all manner of different individuals — from friends and coworkers through to employers, customer service operators, and even government agencies.

This increasing professionalisation of live chat is what leads us to business process outsourcing. Live chat tools have become a huge part of service provision in the BPO industry and are helping to bring teams together in a profound way — even teams based on other sides of the globe.

Business Process Outsourcing and Live Chat — A Future-Focused Partnership

So what role does live chat play in the modern BPO landscape? Let’s take a look at some of the most important aspects of this technological partnership.

Co-Ordinating Outsourced Teams

BPO depends on remote work. Not just remoteness between clients and BPO operatives but remoteness between different outsourced teams themselves. For example, a business in Sydney might outsource Human Resources activities to a team in downtown Manila and outsource creative design work to a team in Quezon City. While Manila and Quezon are not far apart, these teams will still need direct communication solutions — live chat features make sure that all teams can remain on the same page.

Liaising With Clients

Trust is an important part of outsourcing. Clients need to be able to trust the BPO teams they choose to handle key operational tasks, and this trust must be built on communication. Live chat tools have a big role to play here, providing instant messaging capabilities that support highly effective communication between the client and the BPO team.

File Sharing

Live chat tools can be highly useful in sharing files, ensuring that all stakeholders have the documentation and resources they need precisely when they need them. Chat apps are highly suitable for this, removing some of the delay and uncertainty that can sometimes surround other forms of file sharing.

Supporting High Levels of Security

End-to-end encryption and other security protocols help keep sensitive data safe — more traditional business communications, such as email, cannot provide this security.

BPO, Automation, and the Continuation of Live, In-Person Chat

We’ve all heard of chatbots — artificially intelligent applications that mimic human interactions — and these will certainly have a role to play in the live chat landscape of the future. For the moment, however, in-person live chat is the leader in the BPO sphere. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are still not developed enough to replace human personnel altogether, and in-person live chat tools are still crucial for BPO organisations as they deliver the highest levels of service to their clients.

This looks like it will be the case long into the future. Today’s BPO clients expect effective communication and seamless delivery of service — two things that are difficult to achieve without a dedicated live chat line between the client’s office and their outsourced teams in the field.

Unlock the Benefits of BPO With enablesGROUP

Here at enablesGROUP, we are business process outsourcing specialists, and we are here to help your business thrive with BPO services. Reach out to our team today and schedule a consultation.