Good quality customer support is an essential factor for a successful business. When implemented correctly, live chat enables the process of interacting with a customer in real-time, thereby building the relationship and the level of satisfaction with the brand.
Through a modern contact center, brands can reach out to customers who are on the digital platform on personal devices and smartphones. According to a study in 2013, live chat has the highest satisfaction levels across all customer service channels, at 73%, compared to 61% for email and 44% for phone.
Live chat adds a human factor to the customer’s interaction with the business, by giving access to a representative who is ready to answer any queries that the customer may have while browsing the company’s products or deciding to make a purchase. While enhancing the overall experience, live chat also holds tremendous potential to boost up sales. It can be used as a powerful tool to cross-sell or up-sell to an interested customer.
There are many strategies for a business to effectively employ the medium of live chats for sales conversions, and hence add to the bottom line of the company. Listed below are some of the methods that can help to achieve these objectives:
It is important for the customer service executives to be fully aware of the company’s business and have thorough knowledge of its products and service portfolio. With this information at their fingertips, the customer service executives can understand which product will be best suited for the customer’s specific needs. With complete awareness of the pricing and features of each product, the executives can suggest the correct product to the customers, and one that meets their budget as well.
It would be beneficial for a company to analyze which part of the 24-hour day gets the maximum visitors, and these could be termed as the official ‘business hours’ for interactive customer communication. This time window should be made available for live chats, so the customer service agents can synchronize their working hours accordingly. Moreover, the Internet never sleeps; with its global reach, a business has customers from across time-zones. Hence, an optimal number of customer care representatives should be active on live chat according to the official business hours in other key markets.
It is important that the customer service agents truly understand the customers. Having data that reflects the past customer visit trends, the most visited/purchased products and the average purchase price ranges, for instance, gives insight into the mindset of the customers. While engaging in a live chat, gentle prodding and reading between lines can help to gauge the type of customer. The service executive can accordingly suggest the appropriate solutions from the company’s products.
Data collected and collated by strong analytical tools can be of great advantage. In fact, broad-level strategies can be defined depending upon the trends and categorization of the customers, which can prove as a handy reference guide to agents involved in live chats.
Another popular practice is for the customer service representative to put up his/her photo for giving a personal touch. It helps to address the customer by name to give the feeling of a one-o-one service. When followed by tailor-made product recommendations by the service executive, it completes the personalized experience.
It is crucial for a live chat agent to strike a conversation at the right time. For instance, a customer who is browsing through a particular product range may actually welcome live assistance in helping to make the right choice. This offers an opportunity for a potential up-sell. A customer who is simply idling or sweeping over the website may find an agent on the live network annoying, and such a chat could be a waste of time and resources. Checkout by the customer is another lucrative point where a successful cross-sell may be carried out.
An effective session monitoring mechanism is essential so as to track the customer’s virtual whereabouts on the website, and this should be made visible to the customer service agent who can then tactfully tap the customer at the appropriate point during the online journey.
People trust people – so a chat window would send the message that the company has dedicated a human to address the client’s needs, which in turn reflects upon the customer-centric focus of the company. A live chat executive can thus become the online equivalent of a smiling salesman at the traditional brick-and-mortar store. If customers feel appreciated and valued, there is a high likelihood of gaining their trust.
According to a survey by Software Advice, around 56% of respondents reported using live chat at least once to have a question answered. Any suggestion that is offered by a live agent will have a better chance of hitting home, and bring greater chance of sales conversion.
Many customers feel reluctant to ask questions unless prodded. Some even feel awkward asking the simplest of queries, for fear of sounding too ignorant or stupid. The live chat agents should try and strike a conversation politely. Once they feel comfortable, they are likely to open up with their own doubts. The pleasant discovery of helpful assistance to clarify the doubts and answer the queries may lead to greater reception to new suggestions by the executive.
Nobody likes intrusion into private space, so a badly timed and aggressive attempt to start a live chat may actually turn the customer away in disgust. A live chat agent may politely reveal himself/herself with a pleasant greeting, making the customer aware of his/her presence and then sit back patiently, assuring the customer of the availability of handy assistance. If the request is ignored or declined, it is best that the executive recedes and withdraws quietly.
The absence of physical proximity means that the live service agent cannot use body language to judge the customer as well as positively project himself/herself for assistance. This need not necessarily be a hindrance. Using the appropriate text and language can match up equally well. It is important that the agent uses questions to understand the customer’s requirements. In turn, short sentences in simple language must be used while answering the queries from the customer. By no means should strong language be used; soft phrases are likely to be perceived and received better.
Businesses need to have skilled customer service representatives to leverage the benefits of live chat for sales conversions. Customer service executives need to be technology savvy to engage in meaningful live chats with the customer. Prior sales experience is an added advantage. At the same time, businesses need to train their staff in soft skills, essential for customer support and live interactions in particular. A pleasant exchange in real-time can translate into happy customers who are then likely to make better and repeated purchases.
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