Live chat support is essential when building a website that converts clicks into paying customers. However, having this feature on your site is only half the battle.
Learning how to integrate live chat into your business processes effectively can help you maximize the value of this customer support feature. In this article, we'll explore 14 live chat best practices that can elevate your customer interactions and improve your bottom line.
Live Chat Best Practices
1. Consider Key Features
Selecting your live chat tool starts with considering key features that align with your customer support goals. For instance, a live chat solution offering HD video recording may be your best bet if you prioritize face-to-face interactions. Moreover, a mobile-friendly option is ideal if you want your agents to have the flexibility to assist customers on the go.
By thoughtfully evaluating key features during the selection process, building a solid foundation for delivering exceptional live chat support that increases customer satisfaction is possible.
2. Streamline Your Responses
Speed is crucial when providing customer support. According to Forrester Research, 57% of customers abandon their purchase if their questions aren't answered quickly. To keep your customers satisfied and improve response rates, you can employ:
- Chat Templates - Pre-written responses that could save agents time typing answers to common questions. These can be auto-triggered using text commands called chat macros. For example, a visitor typing "hi" in the chat will trigger a welcome message or FAQ.
- Missed Chat Alerts - Serve as reminders to ensure agents address pending customer messages left unattended for a specific period.
Pro Tip: While chat templates can help your customer service agents quickly address concerns, some live chat support requests aren't straightforward. Anticipating unique customer needs will allow your team to prepare for more complex cases.
3. Train Your Agents
One of the best methods to train your agents is by doing immersive role-playing exercises. Simulating live chat scenarios helps them learn the most effective ways to interact with different customers.
First, you can review chat transcripts and compile a list of possible scenarios to simulate during training sessions. If your team works onsite, using a projector helps facilitate interactive learning. For remote teams, you can opt for video conferencing with screen-sharing capabilities.
Encourage your agents to adopt the HEARD technique — Hear, Empathize, Apologize, Resolve, and Diagnose — as a guide when interacting with customers. Select a few volunteers, with one assuming the role of the customer, to engage in one-on-one chat sessions displayed onscreen.
After each session, agents can give feedback on the quality of support delivered and identify areas for improvement. Ultimately, this exercise aims to teach agents how to make customers feel heard and valued.
4. Tailor Customer Interactions
Like shopping for shoes, one size does not fit all regarding live chat support. Customers are diverse, and tailoring your interactions to suit their unique needs can significantly improve their support experience.
Here are a few tips on personalizing customer engagement:
- Use live chat surveys to categorize customers into groups for more targeted assistance.
- Customize your responses based on the customer's intent to provide personalized product recommendations.
- Address the customer by name and reference their previous interactions, if applicable.
- Offer various engagement paths depending on the customer type, such as scheduling demos for potential customers and troubleshooting for current ones.
- Leverage customer data from your CRM to understand preferences and pain points.
5. Choose the Right Time and Place
Placing your live chat widget in strategic times and places can make all the difference in engaging your customers. Consider these tips when optimizing the usability of your site's widget:
- Position the live chat window in the bottom-right corner of your website to align it with users' natural reading patterns.
- Extend live chat to critical pages such as the contact page, pricing page, sales pages, and help/FAQ section to assist customers where they often have questions.
- Ensure the live chat icon or button is easily visible with a small, bright button contrasting your site's color scheme.
- Use data analytics to predict when visitors need assistance and initiate chats based on their behavior.
6. Implement Routing
Intelligent routing helps connect the right customers with the right people to improve your resolution times. Routing works by directing different question types to specialized teams or agents.
You can take this approach one step further by incorporating queue management strategies like round-robin assignments to balance workloads and ensure timely responses. Continuous monitoring, analytics, and rule adjustments help maintain your routing system's efficiency. This guarantees that customers receive timely and relevant assistance for support-related or sales-oriented inquiries.
7. Integrate Co-Browsing
Co-browsing offers real-time collaboration by allowing support agents to view and interact with a customer's web browser. They can navigate the customer's screen, highlight elements, and demonstrate actions, making it a valuable tool for addressing complex issues or providing step-by-step guidance.
One of the advantages of co-browsing is that it significantly reduces resolution times. Agents can quickly identify the source of a problem onscreen, making it easier to address issues. This feature also minimizes any miscommunication that can occur when trying to explain complicated processes via text-based chat.
8. Adopt the Right Etiquette
Effective communication is essential to providing high-quality customer experiences. This means adopting the right etiquette to make customers feel truly heard and supported during their interactions.
Proper live chat etiquette involves listening attentively to your customers' concerns, acknowledging their feelings, and apologizing sincerely if any issues arise. A positive and friendly tone can also go a long way in customer service. Lastly, maintaining professionalism while incorporating informal yet polite language can create a more relaxed environment for customer engagement.
9. Streamline with Business Tools
Integrating various business tools into your live chat software helps streamline workflows.
By leveraging business data, agents can easily access customer information to pick up where previous interactions left off, understand customer preferences and resolve issues.
Additionally, you can automate specific tasks to boost productivity and save time on time-consuming administrative work, empowering your team to deliver informed and tailored service.
Some examples of tools that you can integrate into your live chat include:
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools: Salesforce, HubSpot, and Infusionsoft
- eCommerce platforms: Shopify, Opencart, and Magento
- Content Management Systems (CMS): Joomla, WordPress, and Drupal
10. Interact via Video
Since March 2020, video-based customer service has increased by 70%. Having conversations with your customers on this interactive communication channel adds a much-needed dimension to traditional text-based live chats. It allows your agents to interact with customers face-to-face, building stronger rapport and trust.
Through video, agents can quickly identify customer issues and provide tailored solutions. This personalized approach is particularly effective for complex problem-solving, product demos, or conveying empathy during sensitive conversations.
11. Add Live Chat Triggers
Employing strategic live chat triggers throughout your website lets you catch your customers' attention at key points in their online buyer journey. These triggers act as virtual customer engagement assistants by contacting your website visitors proactively.
For example, a live chat can be triggered to help guide customers through the checkout process. This ensures a seamless shopping experience and helps reduce cart abandonment rates on your website.
Having a good understanding of your visitors' behavior is critical so you can time these triggers effectively. Doing so helps engage your audience and increases the odds of converting them into loyal customers.
12. Track Live Chat Metrics
Measuring service level agreements (SLAs) using live chat metrics is crucial to ensure your customer support team is operating at its best. Tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) in real-time provides valuable insights into your team's live chat performance, helping you identify areas of strength and improvement so you can continuously improve your services.
Here are some metrics you can use to monitor performance:
- First Response Time: How quickly your agents respond to customer inquiries
- First Contact Resolution: The ability to address and resolve issues in a single chat session
- Customer Satisfaction: Feedback gathered from post-chat surveys
- Chat Volume: The total number of live chat sessions received
- Chat to Conversion Rate: The number of visitors converted into customers via live chat
13. Get Feedback Afterwards
Gathering customer feedback after every live chat conversation helps you gauge the quality of your services. You can gain actionable insights to improve customer experience across product and business touchpoints using surveys, forms, or questionnaires.
This live chat best practice enhances customer retention, as they appreciate knowing their opinions are valued and considered. Improving your services based on feedback ensures you consistently make your customers happy and deliver top-notch support.
14. Collect Data with Pre-Chat Forms
Aside from gathering feedback post-chat, collecting customer data before your conversations for added context is important. Pre-chat forms allow you to identify your customer's needs before initiating a chat, enabling your agents to provide more targeted assistance.
By gathering details like the customer's name, contact information, or a brief inquiry description, your team can better prepare for the conversation and respond promptly. Additionally, pre-chat forms help route inquiries to the most suitable agents or departments, improving the efficiency of your support system.
Delivering Exceptional Online Experiences
By integrating these live chat best practices into your customer support strategy, you can elevate your interactions to provide an exceptional online experience. These tips encompass both the technical and human side of live chat, ranging from optimizing your live chat solution to implementing effective communication techniques.
In an era defined by speed and convenience, these practices align with the ever-evolving demands of the digital market. They prioritize placing customers at the core of your business, ultimately driving conversions and fostering lasting relationships.