According to eDigital’s Customer Service Benchmark in 2013 (which surveyed 2,000 consumers on their experiences of various customer service channels), 73% of customers who used live chat reported high satisfaction levels, compared with 61% for email and 44% for phone. Of those who said they prefer live chat, 79% said they did so because they get their questions answered almost immediately, 51% said it was because it allows them to multi-task and 46% believed it was the most efficient communication method.
With such data at hand, it is no surprise that businesses are giving considerable attention to live chat support as a customer service delivery method that is on par with the traditional channels of phone and email. This real-time, secure, personal and cost-effective method has significantly increased the ROI of businesses and has enhanced brand reputation as well.
However, online or live chat services are different from traditional support (through email or phone), so care should be taken to follow some best practices for live chat support services for business websites that can ease the online journey of customers as they visit the portal. A few of them are listed below:
1. Placement of the Live Chat Feature
Make the live chat stand out on the business website. For the live chat feature to deliver results that are akin to expectations, then it becomes imperative to ensure that the live chat window is prominent – easy to locate and easy to access. If a customer has to find the chat window through a multitude of graphics and colors, he may as well not use the feature at all. Online help can make a huge difference to the user experience, so the live chat feature should be easily noticeable. It is one of the ‘help’ buttons, so it would be wise to strike a balance in terms of its design and location. Simple techniques such as bold buttons, a pleasant face, pinning it in a corner or simple customizations can, at times, be just enough.
2. Accessibility of Live Chat through all Web Pages
Make the live chat universally accessible. Live chat should be placed in all pages to ensure greater engagement with customers. Add the code to web pages and domains (including sub-domains) so that customers are able to reach for help at any time of navigation. Live chat on each page is equivalent to a friendly shop assistant who stays with the customer through every stage of a shop visit – till a decision is made. Here, care should be taken to let the customers know the hours of operation when the live chat would be available.
3. Gaining of Immediate Attention
There should be an urgency to help. As soon as a visitor comes to a page, the initial greetings should be sent out by the live chat agent without any delay. A short and simple “Hi” or “Hello” can go a long way in extending a warm feeling to the customer and enhancing the reputation of the brand. For an expedite acknowledgement or service, a pre-set welcome note (with a personalized touch of the live chat agent’s name) can be provided.
4. Acknowledgement of the Pain Point
Understand the pulse of a live chat. The reason a customer initiates a live chat is his inability to solve a particular problem. A smart chat agent should have the acumen to understand the nature of the urgency of the chat, and start providing solution(s) during the course of the conversation. This could give rise to upsell opportunities – such as promoting a new product or an upgrade – so ensure that the solutions do not sound like a cheap marketing gimmick. The idea is to make a happy customer by simplifying his or her troubles.
5. Integration with Social Media
Build cross-channel connections to generate quality leads. It is a known fact that engaging with social media is a great way to maximize reach and be at the top for customer service. Links and live chat buttons can be added to a business’ Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn account. Similarly, social links can be shared with email signatures, newsletters, blogs, messengers etc. This works wonder for the brand’s social media marketing as well.
6. Politeness and Professionalism
Professionalism should be in the DNA of the live chat agents. There are a variety of customers, having different styles of communications. In this scenario, a chat agent should bear in mind that as a front-line representative, his or her words would have a direct effect on the image of the company. As a result, he or she should be careful not to be rude, impatient, politically incorrect, or inappropriate in any other way while dealing with a customer issue. Courtesy should be extended in each aspect of conversation, and a periodic audit should be done by the management.
7. A Quality Closure
Even when the primary query is resolved, the live chat agent should ask if there are any outstanding queries. Then, the agent should provide further contact details in case the customer wishes to get in touch again. Hereafter, the live chat agent should email the full and unedited transcript to the customer so that it is useful for further references. Last and not the least, the chat agent should thank the customer for making efforts to reach out to the business, and ask politely if the customer is willing to take a feedback survey. If so, then an email should be sent right away, when the conversation is still fresh in the customer’s mind. The customer should feel privileged and motivated at the end of the conversation.
Brands that want to create a stronger reputation and customer engagement can tap the potential of this feature and witness a significant change in the customer satisfaction scores. Particularly in the retail and eCommerce industry, live chat has been found to be an important means to reduce shopping cart abandonment. A robust live chat system and trained live chat agents (with effective communication and etiquette) are good enough to carve a niche in this area. Businesses around the world have gained an edge by outsourcing live chat support to an experienced provider, vis-à-vis investing in technology and talent in-house.
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Last Updated on June 1, 2021