Today’s consumer expects 24/7 access, instant response times and stellar customer service from the companies he or she does business with. There are many different elements involved in offering this type of experience to your customers, but one key way is by utilizing live chat on your website. There are some really good reasons to include live chat on your website, too.
Not only does a live chat feature offer convenience to your customers, but 63% of consumers report that they are more likely to return to a site that offers live chat. Live chat allows busy people to chat and complete other tasks at the same time, which is especially convenient for working parents.
However, a bad experience on live chat can drive customers away. You’ll want to be sure you give your customers the best experience possible. Here are nine key things you can focus on when utilizing live chat:
1. Setting Chat Hours
Many consumers state that they expect 24/7 live chat support. However, smaller companies may not have the funds to staff a live chat 24 hours a day. Figure out what your live chat hours are and state them clearly on your website. The chat button should still allow customers to leave a message that your operators can respond to via email the second you open back up for business. As soon as you can afford to, expand your hours.
2. Staffing Live Chat
Even if you are a small business, don’t just assume you’ll be available to answer questions as they crop up. Hire enough people to staff the live chat effectively and answer customer questions. You’ll want to have at least two or three operators available at all times. As your business increases, you’ll need to increase the number of live chat staff as they will naturally grow busier over time.
3. Training Operators
Your operators should be able to do more than just give a canned response to your customers. You want operators who will personally engage with your customers. For example, a canned response would be, “Our shirts are made of 100% cotton.” A personalized response would be, “I see that you’re allergic to polyester. Our 100% cotton shirts should work well for you. What is your favorite color?”
The operators should also be fully trained in your customer service philosophy and policies. If the agent doesn’t know the answer, he or she should quickly transfer the chat to another agent who does. The customer should be informed of this transfer.
4. Reducing Wait Times
One of the reasons customers like live chat is because problems are solved quickly, and they don’t have to waste a lot of time. Around 42% of customers prefer live chat over telephone chat because they don’t have to wait on hold or push a million buttons to get to their target.
If you’ve ever tried to call a company that has an automated system to get you from point A to point B, you probably understand this frustration all too well. With chat, the consumer simply states the problem and is put immediately through.
5. Intuitive Design
You also need to consider the design of the live chat and where it is placed on the page. Everything should be marked clearly enough that the consumer only has to click on a button to go to the live chat. Once inside the live chat feature, it should be clear who is speaking, where the consumer needs to type, where the enter button is and how to exit out of or save the chat.
6. Keeping Focused & Saving Time
When you are chatting with customers online, it is easy to get caught up in personalities and for a professional conversation to turn into a gab fest. While a bit of chit chat is good for customer relations, know when and how to limit it and get back to the task at hand. The average problem is solved through live chat in about 42 seconds, so if that process is slowed considerably due to a conversation, the consumer may leave feeling dissatisfied.
7. Translation for International Customers
Some chat software platforms offer built-in translation capabilities. This can be vital if you are trying to reach a global marketplace where everyone might not speak the same language as you or your operators. Ensure that you have the ability to at least answer questions and provide basic communication for your international customers. Then you’ll have the opportunity to reach out to a broad, new base of leads.
8. Site Speed
You’ll want to make sure your site speed is fast enough to handle running live chat. The last thing you want to do is offer a faster, better solution for customer support only to have the chat screen freeze up on the customer. Thoroughly test your live chat on different types of devices — mobile and desktop — and through different browsers and types of internet connections. If your chat doesn’t load in seconds, then you’ll need to figure out a solution.
Following up after the live chat is an essential part of the overall customer service experience. At the very beginning of the chat session, try to collect name and email address. This will allow you to send out a short message that says, “Thank you for using our live chat. We are happy we were able to solve X problem for you. Please let us know if you need anything else.”
This is the type of communication consumers will remember. It is also one of the things that can bring you lifelong, loyal customers.
Utilizing live chat in today’s hectic world, where many people are multitasking as they try to communicate with your company, is a necessity. Taking the elements above into consideration will allow you to bring live chat to your customers in the most successful way possible.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.