Customers today expect live chat as an option for customer service. However, just adding one without proper planning isn’t very helpful to them and doesn’t do your brand image any favors. Your live chat must be easy to use. Just like all the other elements on your website, there are a few details that make it more user-friendly.
Comm100 reported in its Live Chat Benchmark Report based on 40,149,888 conversations that chat volume jumped 150% in some industries. People are accessing live chat as an option, especially younger generations who don’t like endless selections via a telephone call. They don’t want to repeat everything they’ve already answered to a live agent.
As your business grows, your customers will expect better accessibility, so live chat is one of those features you should add to your contact options as soon as you can afford it. Here are nine key ways to make sure your live chat is the absolute best it can be.
1. Introduce Your Agents
Some sites have turned to chatbots, which is fine for gathering some basic information, but people want to know they are speaking to a trained customer service rep who can actually answer their questions. Make sure your agents use a first name at a minimum and indicate that the customer will speak with a real person rather than a computer.
Taylor & Hart features a live chat option along with the other means of contacting it. At the top of the live chat box is a small image of the possible agents you might speak with. This indicates a trained customer service rep will answer the customer’s questions.
2. Use Verbs
Your live chat should feature calls to action (CTAs), which indicate clicking on the button to activate it has a specific result. Use words such as “chat now,” “ask me a question” or “get help.” Think about the reasons someone visiting your site might want to talk with a live agent and use words to guide the buyer toward a chat.
3. Be Conversational
One of the reasons people enjoy live chat is that it is an opportunity to have a natural conversation. While videos and content allow the user to get an idea about your product and how it works, they can’t answer specific questions that a one-on-one conversation might. People want to interact with your brand or they wouldn’t bother to pull up the live chat feature in the first place. Be ready to have a normal conversation. Ask how their day is. Get details about their life and how they’ll use the product, and be personable.
Door Pros uses words you might hear if you entered an office and were greeted by a receptionist. The chat option doesn’t just say “live chat” but says, “Welcome! How can I help you today?” It’s a great conversation starter and brings an element of warmth to the site.
4. Train Agents
Invest in your live chat agents. Make sure they know your return policies but also give them enough leverage to solve issues for your customers. Training should include using the product they are answering questions about so they understand how your business model works. Run simulations and let agents get their hands on your product or service. You can also offer specialized training based on what department the agent works in. Answering questions for potential customers requires a different knowledge set than solving a technical issue for an existing client.
5. Consider Placement
Your live chat should be easy to find. If you place it under layers of contact pages, visitors might not even realize you offer the option. Instead, place a chat emblem or CTA above the fold on each page of your site. You can also have other links to the live chat, but people should be able to find it easily with a glance.
Vermont Teddy Bear offers its live chat feature at the top of every page of its site. It also provides a toll-free number so you can call directly. Offering the ability to talk instantly and making the features easy to find builds a level of trust with the consumer. The person ordering knows if they have an issue, they can contact the company easily.
6. Make Live Chat Multichannel
There are few things in life as frustrating as sharing a story about your problem with a product only to repeat the same story five times. Make sure your systems work together so if someone phones in first and then moves to live chat, the agent can pull up records of past conversations and review them quickly. Cross-train your customer service reps so they are equally effective on telephone, email and chat.
7. Cover Peak Hours
In a 2019 live chat study, researchers looked at 1,000 websites and discovered as much as 21% of requests aren’t answered. Make sure you have agents to cover peak hours when the most questions are asked. Indicate if there isn’t anyone on hand during other times, and that messages will be emailed and responded to as quickly as possible. While you might not have the ability to staff your live chat 24/7, you can be upfront about when it is and isn’t staffed.
Bennett Awards offers a live chat feature on its site. However, it is a small, family-owned business, so it can’t staff the chat 24/7. Instead, it clearly indicates in the chatbox whether or not it’s currently available and offers alternatives for getting in touch.
Make sure your site speeds can handle live chat. Some people type very quickly, and they’ll expect an immediate response. One thing you can offer is a note that the agent is typing or getting ready to respond. That way, the customer knows their question or comment was received and the agent is working on their request. Train your reps to let the customer know if it’s going to be longer than a few seconds to receive an answer, though. Long pauses make agents seem untrained or lacking in knowledge.
9. Go Mobile
About 43.78% of chat queries came from mobile devices in the last couple of years. That number will only increase as more people use smartphones to access the internet and mobile data speeds increase with the implementation of 5G. Make sure your chat looks good on mobile devices and is usable for smaller screen-based keyboards. Test it on your own mobile devices and have others check it to catch any potential glitches and fix them before your customers encounter issues.
Listen to Your Customers
Send out a survey after a customer uses your live chat and ask what their experience was like. Have them rate your agents and the system itself. The best feedback you’ll receive comes from those actually using the feature on your site. Listen to any complaints and work to improve your live chat over time. That way, your business will get the most out of this feature.