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Live Chat Support

Live chat support is quickly growing to be one of the most popular methods of both providing and receiving support. 63% of customers say that they are willing to come back to a website where they received support via live chat software, and an immense proportion of customers — 90%! — deem live chat helpful. Who wouldn’t want to have more of that in their support offering?

Live Chat Support

Here are a few more compelling metrics about live chat:

  • The demand for live chat tools as a support channel is expected to grow 87% in the next year. With more and more businesses implementing live chat on their website, customers expect to see a live chat feature as a default.
  • According to Blue Soda Promo, 60% of their team’s chats result in a sale. Other research by Ez Texting showed that having a live chat widget on the signup page helped increase their signups by 31%.
  • According to a CallCentreHelper survey, the majority of agents (70%) can handle 2-3 conversations simultaneously, and 22% of support agents can handle 4-5 conversations at a time.
  • Millennials prefer live chat to other support channels. 58% of millennials would rather text a company than make a call, which makes live chat one of the best options for their needs and preferences.
  • More than 30% of customers expect to see a live chat feature on a website, and for mobile visitors, the number goes up even higher to 62%. But only 9% of websites actually use live chat tools, according to SuperOffice’s research.
  • If a customer chats with your sales or support teams before making a purchase, their average order value goes up by 10%. And generally, shoppers who use live chat are worth 4.5 times more than those who do not.

Pros & Cons

Chat support is cheaper than phone support. Over the phone, an agent can only talk with one customer at a time, but if they are chatting online, they can handle several conversations simultaneously without affecting the level of service or customer experience.

According to the research, when customers contact companies by email, the majority of them expect a reply within 24 hours or less. Conversely, the optimal response time for online live chat interactions is less than a minute, and some customers may even leave your website if they have to wait for a reply for more than 2 minutes.

Many customers don’t even want to take the time to make a call, they’d rather have things be instantaneous. Luckily, modern technology and live chat allow customers to get support anywhere, even in a crowded subway.

Sometimes AI is not perfect. While there are definitely some chat-bots that are outstanding and can answer basic questions or make it easier for your customers, that’s not all of them.

If you don’t have enough time or team members to provide live chat support to all your customers, you can choose to only offer it to certain types of customers or only on certain pages. For example, you could make chat available only to your VIP customers, or only place the chat button on pages where a fast response would make a difference (like cart or checkout pages, or your top exit pages).

Automatic chat invitations are annoying if misused, but can make a huge difference to your conversion rate if used correctly.

Live chat can be a great addition to your knowledge base or to the help section of your site. Add a chat button to those pages and let your customers contact you if they didn’t find the answer to their question or if they are having trouble understanding the article.

Live chat tools need to integrate into support inboxes to have any real context for your support team members to use. If you want to provide a great customer experience over live chat, your messenger tools need to have excellent integration offerings.

There’s no need to install anything or switch between tabs or apps to chat with your company’s support team. Your customers can get support on the spot and won’t have to install anything, even if you have to use screen sharing or co-browsing features.

Going by the statistics, you only have half a chance of having a good live chat interaction: 47% of customers haven’t had a positive live chat experience in the past month.

Agents will likely get asked the same questions pretty frequently. With live chat, they can use canned responses or saved replies and reply to more chats.

According to Kayako, scripted responses are obnoxious to your customers. 29% of consumers say they find scripted responses most frustrating, and 38% of businesses agree.

Now you have an understanding of some of the metrics around the channel, as well as some of the ways that it can be excellent or frustrating both for you and your customers! If you’ve decided to move forward with using chat as a channel, here are some tips on how to best make use of its benefits and work around its weaknesses.

Tips on live chat for companies

  • Customize your chat window. Chat services offer you the option of customizing what your chat windows look like as well as adding profile-type information about your agents. Update the look of your chat window so it matches the design of your site, and try adding a profile picture of your agent and information such as their name and title. We recommend using real photos of agents: this encourages  empathy between your potentially angry customers and your employees because they’ll see faces behind the brand.
  • Use targeted proactive chat. There are certain pages on which proactive chat can be incredibly effective, rather than obnoxious to your customers. Like we mentioned above, this will help you get more chat requests, and it leads to more sales. High traffic pages like pricing pages, new feature announcement pages, or help documentation can be great places to put a target proactive chat box that reaches out to customers before they need to go digging too deep to find what they’re looking for. This is a true driver for customer delight.
  • Use an optional pre-chat survey. One of the biggest problems with live chat is that it sometimes misses out on the contextual availability that other channels offer. Without integrations pulling information in from your other service (which we’ll talk about below), all that your agent has to go on is past chat history. Offering a small pre-chat survey for the customer to fill out can help gain additional context that otherwise you might miss out on. It also could save your agents from having to ask the customer for more details, or re-ask basic questions once they are actually chatting with your customer.
  • Implement chat transfer. No one should be expected to know everything. It’s possible (and probable) that there will come times when your agents might not be able to answer the question being asked of them. In that case, it becomes important and valuable for them to have the means to escalate or transfer their ticket to someone else on the team. Make sure that the tooling you implement has something like this so that one agent can easily pass a conversation to another if they have to. Chatra also allows several agents to chat with the same customer simultaneously, making it even easier to solve complicated questions without having to transfer the chat back and forth. This makes the experience better for both your customer and your support team members.
  • Integrate live chat with your help desk and CRM. In support, context can be one of the most important tools that an agent has at their disposal. Being able to better understand where in the customer journey someone is, or what they’ve already reached out to support about can save an agent a ton of time, and the customer tons of effort. Provide better context for your agents by integrating your helpdesk and CRM with your chat service. That way, instead of wondering and taking extra time to go back and dig or, even worse, asking the customer a question they’ve already been asked, the information is right at your team’s fingertips.

Now that we’ve covered some of the best practices as a company, let’s dive a little bit deeper into how agents can make the most of it with chat support.

Tips on live chat for live chat support agents

  • Introduce yourself and give a polite goodbye. When you start a conversation with a customer, just like you would if you were talking to them in real life, start it with a polite introduction. Saying something like “Hi there Rebecca! My name is Jane, and I’ll be helping you today.” can set the tone for a good conversation. Similarly, after you’ve resolved the customer’s issue, say goodbye to them, and let them know you’ll be there if they need anything else. Something along the lines of “Thanks for your time today, Rebecca. I’m glad we could resolve this, but let us know if you run into anything else.” is an excellent way to let the customer know that you genuinely care about their problems.
  • Use saved replies. Not every question is going to be unique. It’s probable that you will get some questions that are repeated somewhat frequently. In those cases, make use of saved replies — also known as canned responses — to make the most of your and the customer’s time. Saved replies can be a double-edged sword, though, by providing outdated or incorrect information. Before hitting the send button, make sure you’ve customized or modified the saved reply to the point that it makes sense to the specific customer you’re talking to.
  • Match your speech patterns with your customer. Do you speak the same way to your parents as you would to your best friend? Probably not. Everyone has slightly different ways of communicating, depending on which circle they are currently in. With customers, it should be no different. Mirror the way that the customer is engaging. For example, if they are using a lot of emoticons and emojis, you can do the same. If, instead, they are speaking tersely and without a lot of expressiveness, you can keep your communication sparse: use minimal exclamation points, and no gifs or emojis. This mirroring will help put the customer at ease.
  • Let the customer know if they’re going to have to wait. If you have to go and dig up an answer or ask a colleague about something for the customer, let them know. They won’t mind, as long as you tell them that you’ll be gone and set proper expectations. If you just disappear with no answer for several minutes while they wait for you expecting a response, they’re likely going to start to get frustrated. Telling them from the get-go defuses some of that potential anger and makes them feel like they are in the loop.
  • Provide customers with a transcript at the end. Many people like to write down information from support interactions for use later but aren’t as quick as they’d like to be and miss out on getting it down. Some tools (like Chatra) keep the conversation history forever, so a visitor can come back anytime and review previous messages, but some customers still prefer to have chat transcripts emailed to them. In Chatra you can automatically send chat transcripts to all customers when the conversation is over which saves both you and them a ton of time and energy. Alternatively, you can receive chat transcripts to your own email address, and offer to forward them to customers if they need it.
  • Send links when possible. Similar to the above point: if you send a person who is having trouble documentation via a link, they are able to keep that link and use it later when they run into the problem again. They could also potentially, if needed, send it to their friend or someone else trying to use your service. Links save you from typing far too much into a chat window and keeping your message from being digestible, and they give your customer resources to use later on.
  • Use chat transcripts to update your documentation. Chat transcripts are a gold mine for written content. Because your agent has to do so much quick, on-the-fly assistance, it can be a great place to find useful nuggets that can be put into existing documentation, or turned into new documentation as needed. Go through transcripts and see what is there that you can pull and put into your docs to make them even better and more useful for your customers.

Suggested Tools

We might be a little biased, but for suggested tools in this space, we recommend Chatra. Chatra has a few really awesome benefits that makes it a great fit for companies interested in the tips and tricks above:

  • An excellent free trial that lets you get started even without a credit card.
  • Live chat and offline messenger are both built into the product.
  • It keeps the conversation history forever both for you and your customers, so your customers can continue a conversation when they go to a different page or even close your website and return later.
  • Its group chats feature allows several agents to chat with the same customer simultaneously. Your customers will be impressed with the level of service!

Chatra is a great option for both smaller and larger businesses and our pricing and tooling keep it accessible for both, too.
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