Providing an excellent customer experience (CX) is key to running a successful business. 73% of consumers say a positive experience influences where they make purchases, while 32% will stop interacting with a brand after a negative experience. It’s no longer enough to pull in new customers—instead, you need to maintain existing ones and build a great reputation.
Great customer service is the ability to not only solve a problem or answer a question in good time but to provide a seamless, even enjoyable, experience. Many companies still rely solely on call centers or in-person service, but customers want more options than this. Technology has changed social interactions, leading to a preference for online solutions.
One way to do this is to make sure your enterprise communication solutions feature a live chat system alongside email and social media management. It’s an invaluable tool if used the right way.
Live chat is a two-way communication tool that allows businesses to not only answer customer queries but gain invaluable consumer feedback to improve products and services. It’s often confused with chatbots, as it fulfils the same role on a site. However, whilst a chatbot is an automated service, live chat involves a dedicated agent.
Here’s a more detailed rundown of what you should and shouldn’t be doing with live chat.
Customers on live chat expect a fast response. Ideally, you need to be responding to customers in under a minute – the average wait time is around 48 seconds. Customers turn to live chat for its immediacy so slow response times can be a major source of irritation when it comes to live chat.
If you are experiencing delays, make sure you keep customers informed. Having an idea of response times can go some way towards helping with the frustration. Having an automated message that says ‘you are third in the queue’ increases the chances that they’ll stay in the chat, rather than leaving in frustration. It’s also worth using a typing indicator. Rather than wondering if their question has been seen, and whether they’re getting a reply, they can see that a response is coming
80% of consumers are more likely to make purchases after a personalized experience. It’s not enough to be polite and helpful—you need to go one step further. Providing a personal approach should be one of your main customer engagement strategies. Live chat is the perfect place to do this.
One easy way to ensure a personalized approach is to have a ‘pre-chat’ function. In this section, customers can provide their email or account details, and select what their query is related to. You could also provide space for an initial message.
This ensures that they’re connected to the right department. It also means the agent can look at previous interactions and respond accordingly if need be. This personal approach helps to build trust and provide exceptional customer service.
It’s important to the customer that the person dealing with their query speaks and writes in their native language. Many ecommerce business ideas require a global market, meaning they’re likely to have customers in a variety of countries. Language and cultural context are both crucial to delivering excellent customer service via live chat. You might not be able to have agents who speak every language, but having agents who speak the language for every country you operate in is vital.
Automated customer service can help here, directing customers to the right agents based on their location data. This avoids the initial awkwardness of trying to figure out what language a customer speaks and then passing them over. Instead, you can provide a multilingual customer service from the outset.
Combine chatbots and human agents
Human interaction through live chat is great but automated responses are also valuable. Unlike people, they can operate 24/7 – meaning customers can get in touch outside of business hours. When asked about the benefits of chatbots, 64% of US consumers said 24-hour service was a big benefit and 55% appreciated the instant response.
Source: Marketing Charts
As workplace digitalization grows in popularity, more and more businesses are investing in solutions like chatbots. However, you do need to be careful. Whilst useful for responding to pricing queries and FAQs, they can often give incorrect responses that can irritate customers and potentially damage your brand. You can mitigate this by having the option to escalate to an agent when needed. If that’s out of hours, chatbots can automatically schedule a call-back as soon as your customer experience team are available.
Chatbots should be used to support your live chat team, rather than being used instead of them.
Transfer between too many agents
Try to keep to one agent per query. As mentioned earlier, a pre-chat page can work like a virtual PBX would for inbound calls. By using this pre-chat data to direct the live chat, you can reduce the chances of too many transfers.
Of course, some questions may be too complex for your first-tier support staff, and an escalation to a supervisor or tech specialist may be needed. In this case, it’s important to be clear about passing the case over and to make sure their response is timely. We’ve all heard irritated complaints about live chats automatically closing due to customer inactivity. If you’re planning to transfer between agents, you need to ensure this won’t happen while they wait for a response.
Be too scripted
Don’t rely too much on chat scripts. Allow open ended questions for sales and detailed follow-ups in tech support. Conversations should flow. That’s not to say there shouldn’t be a script that agents can work from, just that they should be able to move away from it as needed.
Source: Software Advice
Of course, agents who go off script must have a clear understanding of the tone expected. Spelling and grammar are important for presenting a professional image too. It’s not enough to assume an agent familiar with telephone or email customer service can take on live chat without additional training. Encourage a set style of communication, rather than strictly scripted phrases.
Make it a sales pitch
Live chat is there to help with problems or questions. Conversations should focus on the customer needs, not on sales pitches. Of course, there’s always room for upselling or cross-selling, but this needs to be done carefully.
A good example of this might be: you’re discussing the purchase of a phone system with a customer and mention your business call recording service, asking if they want to add it to their package.
Whereas a bad example might be: they’ve messaged about a product they received having parts missing, and you try to sell them an upgraded version of the product.
Agents need to be able to tell when it’s relevant to mention additional products or services, and when it’s best to stick to resolving the original query only.
Forget to say when you’re available
You need to decide if your live chat will be office hours only or offer a 24-hour service. Whatever you decide, an agent must be readily available during those times (or replaced with a chatbot). Your website should make it clear when you’re available. If you’re using a chatbot, it should be clear about this too.
It’s not enough to provide your availability, however. You also need to provide alternatives. This could be using video to improve customer experience, having the option to schedule a call-back, or a comprehensive FAQ section.
Getting started with live chat
With this in mind, it’s well worth implementing live chat. Whilst a bad live chat experience can turn customers off your brand, a good one can drive brand loyalty and increase your reputation. Of course, it’s no good to provide live chat if no-one knows you have one.
Make sure to promote it – through social media, your website and other channels. The live chat app should be easy to find. This could mean having a pop-up minimized on every page, or having a dedicated section on your ‘contact us’ page.
Finally, remember one of the major benefits live chat has: easily accessible customer data. If you don’t use this to improve your business, you’re missing out. You could compile the most common questions and improve your FAQ section, or see what tutorials are most needed and make eBooks to answer them. By using live chat in this way, you don’t just improve the immediate customer experience, but the long term one.