Live chat is a feature that is quickly gaining popularity lately, especially for companies that sell products and services on their websites. One of the reasons is simply because it allows customers to quickly and easily reach out for more information.
Gone were the days where you could only choose from two options to contact companies: phone and email. A lot of people prefer not to call, and email can sometimes take a long time to respond.
We live in the era where everyone wants instant, immediate response. And that is why live chat is great. According to key findings on Live Chat Inc, demand for live chat grew by 8.29% in 2017 from 2016.
But live chat is more than just allowing customers to get in touch with company representatives. It is more than just a platform for them to ask questions or to report problems.
If used correctly, it helps increase customer satisfaction by making them feel important and heard.
And since customers that use live chat are already on your website, this little chat box gives you the golden opportunity to increase conversion rates and boost sales. How?
Live chat best practices
1. Be available consistently
Think of live chat as an extended arm of your customer service and sales department. It would be good for you to be available on live chat during business hours, so that customers who visit your website then can get instant help when they need it. If you cannot be there from 9am to 5pm, consider setting a specific time for live chat, and commit to it. For example, you can offer live chat assistance from 11am to 3pm, Mondays to Fridays. However, it is important to ensure that you are available when you say you will be, so that customers know what to expect.
It is also worth noting that live chat programs often come with mobile applications, which means you do not need to be tied to your desk to man the live chat. Even when you are on the go or away from the desktop, you will still be able to respond to and help your online customers anytime, anywhere.
If you are able to offer live chat during extended hours or, better, yet, 24/7, you would have greater advantage because then you are able to reach out to customers who shop outside of business hours.
2. Be personal
Although behind screens, customers want to know that they are talking to real humans, and they want that personal touch. It is highly recommended that you have a small picture of the chat agent somewhere in the chat screen, so that it gives your agent a face and people can see who they are talking to.
When starting a chat, the agent should introduce themselves, and address the visitor by their names. To be able to build rapport quickly and easily, the agents should also be able to speak in the customer’s language and tone. Which leads to the next point.
3. Train your chat support team
Don’t just place anybody at the helm. If you are serious about increasing conversions through live chat, you need to train your chat support team. Customers won’t remember how amazing or sophisticated the chat system is, but they will definitely remember the interaction with and the service from your chat representative.
Your agents should always aim to understand your customer’s needs and be equipped to provide a valuable option or satisfactory solution. For example, if a customer is not happy with a certain product design, the chat agent should be able to offer an alternative. Or, if a certain service package does not suit the customer, the chat agent should be quick to suggest one that does.
Your agents should have sufficient product knowledge so that they are able to instantly understand what customers are looking for, and to offer them the best option.
Picture source: LiveChatInc.com
4. Have canned responses
Customers engage live chat because they want instant answers, and canned responses are one way to help agents respond quickly. Canned responses are pre-written or pre-planned answers to commonly asked questions that you can use during a chat session. These predefined set of reply templates often can be sent out with a single click or a shortcut, saving time and removing the need of having to type out the same thing over and over again.
For example, if you are running a promo campaign on your online store, save the discount codes or other details as canned responses so you can easily and quickly recall them whenever a customer asks for it. You can also have canned responses for greetings, instructions, links, putting on hold, and even ending chats.
5. Close the deal!
Customers who use live chat are usually either considering making a purchase or in the process of making a purchase. When the opportunity arises, seize it and close the deal. For instance, do not point the customer to the checkout page to complete the purchase. Make it easy for the customer – accept the payment then and there in the live chat and get everything processed instantly!
Having said that, it is best done in a subtle way. If your agent comes across as pushy, it will only leave a bitter taste. Guide your customer to the finish line with gentle prompts instead of hard selling.
To go a step further, you can also try increasing conversions through upselling. Once a rapport has been built and needs are understood, the chat agent is in a great position to recommend upgrades or add-ons.
For example, if a customer is looking to buy pizza online, agents can upsell sides, drinks and desserts. Or if someone is in the midst of purchasing zoo entrance tickets, you can recommend annual memberships or customised tours.
Analyse and improve your live chat experience
After all that engagement with your customers, it is time for the next most important step: analysing your live chat reports. Reviewing your live chat reports will help you improve your customer and sales service, which, in the long run, will improve your conversion rates.
Firstly, you can ask the customer for feedback on the chat experience and overall service provided at the end of the chat session. In some cases, however, the customer may not be comfortable with giving feedback directly, so you may consider providing a link to a survey instead.
Most live chat softwares also make chat reports available. These are extremely useful tools as you can use them to analyse previous interactions, to help you improve efforts to meet customer requirements and expectations.
Responses and answers
Based on previous live chat sessions, you can find out what type of answers successfully converted a customer into making a purchase, and compare them to the responses that did not lead to any sales. You can also check the effectiveness of your live chat, by analysing the number of times you managed to solve someone’s problems, and the number of times a customer leaves without getting a proper solution.
Adding more canned responses
By reviewing your live chat sessions, you will also see a pattern of the frequently asked questions. As such, you are able to decide if you should add more canned responses or shortcut links to the answers, to save time and effort. By adding more canned responses, you can also improve response time and give your customers what they want more quickly.
Staffing and training
How well equipped are your staff in handling customer’s questions on live chat? Do they have sufficient product knowledge? Are they well trained in customer service? These are valuable insights you can gain by reviewing your live chat reports.
Also, what are the peak hours for your business’ live chat? According to Live Chat Inc’s report, November and December are the months with the highest number of chats, compared with the rest of the year. Is it the same for your business? What about on a daily basis? Is there more demand for live chat during lunch hours? Do you need more live chat agents during those times? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you better prepare your staff and offer better customer service.
With the tips above, you can now work towards strategizing and fully utilising your live chat to increase your business revenue. Besides improving conversion rates, you will also be able to leave a good impression, building a strong customer loyalty and creating a good base of devoted fans.
If you are ready to use live chat for your business but not too sure where to start, give us a nudge. Tell us what you need and we will help you find the best solution.