Some love it, some hate it, and it has our agents juggling multiple customers at once. Live chat divides conversation in more ways than one.
But is a communication platform which also encourages customers to multi-task a good thing? Or is it just another channel we must incorporate, manage and coach our teams to handle?
Research would suggest that live chat is ABSOLUTELY worth the fuss, for both our customers and contact centres.
Seeing as 90% of customers consider live chat helpful according to an ATG Global Consumer Trend Study (nectardesk.fr).
And once you’ve got your customers using the service, they are three times more likely to buy from you than regular web surfers would be (optilead.co.uk)
But in order to get these results, it’s all about keeping the focus.
So what is live chat and why was it introduced in the first place?
Remember good old MSN Messenger and you have live chat; an instant messaging service which enables an agent to speak to a customer online in real time.
*It allows our agents to speak to more than one customer at once
*Customers feel they have more time to respond than in a phone call
*It’s appealing to a new demographic of customers, such as digitally-minded millennials
*It gives scope for fast, scripted responses to be given to common questions
How these perks can quickly become pitfalls…
*In reality, a live chat is no quicker than a phone call
*Having more than two conversations at once can negatively impact customer transactions (Customer Relationship Metrics)
*Chats are unpredictable because the customer feels no pressure to respond quickly
*Scripted responses can be alienating and robotic
Admittedly, these are some sticky corners to navigate…
But if live chat has the potential to help a business fly, it’s our job as contact centre managers to become pilots of this technology.
With the highest potential for customer satisfaction levels, at a whopping 73%, live chat is a lesson worth investing in. Phone support only keeps 44% of people happy, with email still lagging behind at 61%. (Econsultancy.com).
In short, customers are keen for and confident in live chat, and are more likely to become our regulars if we respond to that preference.
Tips to keep us kings of the live chat castle…
- BE HUMAN:We should engage with our customers just as personally as we would over the phone. We want them to feel listened to, not typed at. Otherwise…we might as well be robots, and that doesn’t feel good for anyone!
- MIRROR OUR CUSTOMERS:It’s tougher to gauge tone over text than when we ACTUALLY chat, so let’s take our customers’ lead. If they are friendly and chatty, we can reciprocate that warmth. If they’re formal and curt, we know not to overstep the line.
- ANTICIPATE:Live chat can help us anticipate any problems our customer may have online. Online marketing company Logical Position improved their sales by 30%, by triggering automatic greetings which sensed when people were struggling with payment (livechatinc.com).
- DON’T BITE OFF MORE THAN WE CAN CHEW: Live chat hasn’t proven to be time-saving. Instead, we’re using it for quality conversation, and to give some TLC to customers who prefer not to call up. Ideally, we should keep conversations to a maximum of two at once.
- KEEP IT SIMPLE:Always start by asking the customer for their name, even if it Is a complicated reference number we need!
- BRAND CONSISTENCY: We want to be personal and empathetic, but also consistent. A live chat conversation could evolve to a phone call with a different agent, so it’s important to maintain a transferable brand persona. It’s also possible that the live chat interchanges with a chatbot. Gartner estimates that 85% of customer interactions will involve chatbots by 2020. Consistent language helps keep the jump from robot to agent smooth.
- KNOW OUR STUFF: Armed with the right information, we can keep our phrasing short and sweet, and our service helpfully concise.
- USE THE TYPING INDICATOR FEATURE: This way our agents can see when our customer is about to reply, and be chomping at the bit to respond.
- BE AVAILABLE: Why not extend live chat availability beyond phoneline hours? Even half an hour would allow agents to focus on live chats, resist rushing last minute phone calls, and give customers a sense of special ‘out of hours’ treatment.
- REMEMBER, WE COULD GO VIRAL: Nothing’s private, with a click of a mouse our customer can share our conversation across the globe. So, we must be careful how we tread…
- COACH OUR AGENTS: It’s unfair to expect our agents to manage live chat without any guidance. Are we happy for them to use emojis, GIFs and abbreviations? It’s a whole new world and our agents need guidance, coaching and support.
For more ideas, or help coaching your team on live chat, drop Adexchange a line… we’re already helping some of Europe’s most successful brands…