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Live Chat

GUEST BLOG: Live Chat… All talk?

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

By Adexchange

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.

The perks…

*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…

21% of firms fail to respond to live chat support

960 301 Stuart O'Brien

A study involving businesses based in the US and Europe, including both business and consumer facing websites, has revealed that 21% of companies failed to respond to live chat support requests.

The study, commissioned by SuperOffice, was conducted from over 1,000 websites. To keep the study fair, chat was only initiated during a website’s support hours and only when chat was available and online.

During each chat, questions were asked that were specific to a business. For example, ecommerce stores were asked questions about shipping and handling, while software companies were asked questions relating to free trial offers. After each chat was completed, the site was rated based on the quality of response time, wait time and overall chat experience.

Key findings included:

• 21% of live chat support requests are not answered
• Average wait time for live chat support requests is 2 minutes and 40 seconds
• 55% of companies do not offer transcripts once a chat has ended
• 23% of companies do not ask for contact information before a chat begins
• Average handle time for a chat request is 6 minutes and 50 seconds
• 45% of companies do not ask users for feedback once the chat has ended

SuperOffice concluded that live chat only works if there’s someone behind the software to respond to customers needs.

A white paper based on the study can be downloaded here

Guest Blog, Gail Partridge: Holding memorable conversations with your customers…

800 450 Jack Wynn

Delivering a first-class customer experience should be the number one priority for any brand – it really is that important. It affects perceptions and memories of a business, and encompasses everything a customer goes through with that company. The contact centre is an important part of this, often called into action when something with the customer experience has gone wrong. When this occurs, a customer issue should, of course, be resolved as effortlessly as possible, but the experience is improved if the conversation – whether over the telephone, via email, Live Chat or social media – is a memorable one.

This is arguably even truer over social media, where conversations can take place in public. In addition to addressing the issue at hand, the representative must be aware that others can see the conversation and can share it quickly if they so wish. So what’s the best way of delivering those memorable conversations?


While to an extent this depends on the technology a brand is using in its contact centre, I would say that context is hugely important for any customer interaction and quality of conversation. An employee should ideally know the customer’s name, what the issue is and whether there have been issues in the past. This saves a lot of leg work upfront and means the customer doesn’t have to repeat information they may have shared via another channel previously.

Body language

It isn’t just what you say that leads to a memorable conversation it’s how you say it. When speaking with a customer, employees must have the right mindset during the conversation – the key to really listen to the customer and to respond in a personal way to show they care and want to help

So the way you show up and even your body language and the way you sit can have an impact on the customer experience.  For example, if you were face to face with someone and slouching in your seat, would the customer think you are interested in what you have to say? Removing distractions and being fully present with every customer will give confidence and control which will all be reflected in the way you deal with the customer issue and your tone of voice will be one which shows that you really want to engage with the customer.

Be engaging

Although operational stats, e.g. average handling time, are important for monitoring efficiency and resourcing in a contact centre, this should not be down to an individual level as this pressure can stop the natural conversation and engaging with customers. To engage you have to be fully present and allow the natural flow of a curious conversation, where the customer is asked about not only what they problem is but also why it is important to them to have it fixed. Your people should draw out the other person, listen carefully to what they are saying and make the customer feel confident that their problem is in the right hands to be addressed. The more this can be done, the more positive experience the customer will have.

Taking genuine interest broader than the issue at hand can often prevent further issues occurring and the need to call back to have more problems resolved. If an employee can find some common ground in a natural, rather than scripted way, then that can only add to the engagement felt.

Signing-off in style

As the conversation draws to a close, it’s important to strike the right note as you finish – that will be the abiding memory. Some technology systems in a contact centre allow for a personalised follow-up – an email to enquire if everything was resolved to the customer’s satisfaction – others do not. But that shouldn’t stop an upbeat and positive end to the conversation.

Teach your staff how to do this

Providing smart and effective training to customer-facing people is a surprisingly overlooked element of customer interaction. This should include product or service information of course, and the ability to properly use whichever software and technologies are in play in that contact centre.

But it should also and always include tips and techniques on actually communicating with people. This can vary according to the channel – what works when speaking with someone might not be as effective via social media – but there are aspects that can be used whatever the channel.

As social media is a public forum, you should be clear about what an agent can and cannot say. This is especially so given that for most Millennials, social media is a way of life, and they use a tone in their personal accounts that would not necessarily be suited to a professional interaction.

Memorable and effortless conversations are a key part of delivering a good customer experience, something to bear in mind as the variety of communication channels broadens, from social media and beyond.


Gail Partridge is a consultant at PeopleTECH, a customer experience management consultancy that advises organisations on how to deliver the right customer experience via people, processes and technology. Gail has previously worked with brands such as Sky, Standard Life and British Airways, advising on all elements of call centre strategy.

Industry Spotlight: “It’s up to you how to handle social channels, but choose wisely”…

800 450 Jack Wynn

The term ‘call centre’ usually conjures up images of vast open office spaces, occupied by dozens of telesales representatives parked in front of computer screens with their omnipresent headsets.

Gone are the days where the primary source of communication is by telephone. In the digital age, many consumers decide to take to their desktop when they want to make a purchase or, more importantly, air a grievance.

In an ideal world, a customer that has a concern will reach out to your call centre via telephone. Customer care specialists can pull up details quickly, and can use the pauses to engage with the person on the other end of the phone. With this said, the concept of Live Chat allows the opportunity to address a complaint while the customer is online and available to participate in the process as well.

The internet is rife with opportunities to either sing the praises or throw some acid on a business. Social media pages, Yelp, Trip Advisor, Feefo, Google and Trustpilot are just some of the channels that allow the consumer to rate and leave feedback on virtually any business on the planet. Therefore, today’s customer support professionals need to be adept at handling complaints through various outlets.

There is a growing number of people who take to social media to vent about their experience with a brand. And everyone loves to read a good rant, right? What can end up happening is people start piggy-backing on the original comment, and before you know it there is a viral complaint about your company flying all over the internet. Left unattended, these can fester and do ongoing damage to your business.

So what’s a brand to do? Here are a few simple tips:

1)    Monitor your social media pages: Make sure you check for direct messages. The sooner you acknowledge someone’s issue, the easier it will be to make them a fan of your business again.

2)    Search for your brand: People may not bother searching for your official Facebook page or Twitter handle, and the only way you’ll find those harsh comments is searching for your brand name. Include searches for common misspellings. Then try to engage with those individuals, but get them off public pages and on to email or telephone.

3)    Check your ratings: Usually, a one-star rating on sites like Trustpilot can be remedied by apologising for the experience the customer had, and asking them to get in touch to try to find a satisfactory resolution to the issue. That is the result what people want.

4)    Keep your cool: The internet explodes with a story gone viral every few months. A customer who complained on social media received a defensive (and usually offensive) reply from the business. As much it might pain you, the customer is always right; bite your tongue and try to address the issue in a timely fashion.

How you manage your social media customer support can be a dream come true, or your worst nightmare. It’s up to you how to handle it, so choose wisely.


Words by Bernadette Kelly, of director business development at ActiveWin Media 


Bernadette is a native New Yorker, starting her career as a telesales representative. She has managed large call centre teams in California before relocating to Manchester in 2010. Recently, Bernadette was selected as a judge for VOOM2016 to help Richard Branson decide which start-up would win £1 million in prizes.