Make Live Chat work for your Business

“The Internet: transforming society and shaping the future through chat”. – Dave Barry

Customers have to deal with customer service of the companies they do business with and these introductions often become the bane of their existence. Although companies offer many ways to contact them, each method not only had their own drawbacks but also a whole lot of frustrations. A lot of valuable time is spent holding on to phone lines while navigating the long winded IVRs. Even if they get through, more time is wasted on explaining the issue to a person who may either not understand or not be empowered to take a decision. If a customer chooses the email route, a few days may elapse before a response arrives either by mail or even a letter to address the problem. All the methods including posts on social media sites take time. The company has a certain fixed turnaround time for every method and channel of correspondence and hence speedy responses sometimes are not speedy enough.

With the onset of online live chat sessions, the quality and speed of customer service has significantly improved. An increasing number of companies are going down this path for enhanced customer service and reaping some clear benefits. Online shopping customers especially benefit from real time chats since they are able to ask questions regarding products and receive instant responses. Not only can customers make more informed choices, they are more inclined to buy from a company that is able to answer their questions immediately – creates a feeling of trust and confidence. For companies it translates to increased sales and higher profits, some of which they can pass on to the staff as benefits, making the staff a happier lot!

The trouble with online shopping is that many customers are disconnected from someone who can answer their questions in real time with precision. Rather than watching potential customers click away from their e-commerce sites, many businesses have been adding live chat support. As it turns out, live chat has the ability to provide the convenient answers that customers want, while also adding significant benefits to the staff and bottom line of companies. Let us see how the use of live chat can not only move business towards success but also multiply its usefulness with time.

– We have spoken at length about the need of customers to have reduced effort when contacting and then doing business with a company. Live chat makes this possible – it is a convenient way to get answers and help immediately. There are no annoying hold times, IVR menu rigmaroles or inefficient representatives to deal with and customers can do other things even while simultaneously chatting with the company’s representative. Customers can easily spell out or ask for explanations of complicated names or products and receive a clear written answer – instantly.

– From the company’s perspective, live chats are expense reducers. The number of calls that come in to a contact center is drastically cut down thereby reducing the number of employees needed to man those lines. Reduced calls means reduced hold times saving both time and money too since representatives would not need to call customers back because they could not be reached. Live chat representatives can easily refer to a paper document while chatting with a customer without appearing less than competent. Many highly skilled live chat agents manage multiple chats at a single time saving the cost of hiring more agents. Interactions can be long via live chat without adding to the expenses of the company as opposed to a long call that may seriously hike up the communication bill for the company.

– Live chat responses are instant. No laborious IVR menus, no waiting to receive the right answer or any kind of answer. This helps even irate customers to calm down and take the support being provided

– Companies deal with customers from varied demographics, speaking different languages and if the agents cannot quite understand the accent or the use of some words, the communication tends to break down. When the problem is written, it is easier for both sides to understand each other better. Plus there is no extra cost for this great service especially for customers from different countries.

– Customers can provide instant written feedback depending on how they perceived the live chat responses. These responses are easily collated and used by the company for quality control purposes.

Having discussed the advantages of live chat, like any system this too has some disadvantages that must be taken in to consideration if live chat is to work for your business:

– There could be some not so tech savvy customers who would still prefer doing business the old fashioned way and hence companies must remember to have phone lines and or email support as well. This is especially true of some of the older generation customers. Also the current generation is more ‘fond’ of social media comments and prefers to get all their information from these sources.

– Unfortunately all smart devices are not able to support the live chat application and even when customers do have it, they may not be able to use it since it would mean typing out long sentences for which they may not have the time. They would rather call especially if they are on the move.

– Live chat service must be manned almost constantly and if there is only one agent responsible for it, constant manning could prove to be an issue since customers would need to wait for responses.

Keeping in mind both the advantages and disadvantages of live chat can make it work for your business and increase the productivity of your company significantly. As a system, live chat must be managed proactively and executed seamlessly to gain maximum benefits.

– Ensure that the live chat representatives are thoroughly and regularly trained. They must constantly update their knowledge base, have updated product knowledge, understand stock and inventory numbers and be able to navigate information via the internet in the least time possible with exact results. Companies must ensure that these representatives always have a written document with dos and don’ts and also a fairly exhaustive list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) to make their responses more educated and speedy. If customers wanted to wait, they would use the phone lines!

– Ensure that online live chat is a 24 hours service. As we discussed, customer demographics plays an important role in deciding the business hours of a company. Hence if a company has customers from other countries, time zones and differences would need to be kept in mind to make it convenient for the customers to connect and receive answers any time.

– Live chat agents like their phone agent counterparts, must develop empathy. Customers can easily differentiate between a warm and courteous response aimed at building a relationship versus one that is rote and boring. Customers are connecting via live chat to get the human experience – they should be greeted by a human rather than a human who is more robot!

– The live chat platform can also be used as a selling platform. If conducted properly the agent can discreetly introduce the idea of a similar product or service to the one that the customer has bought or is planning to buy.

– Link your live chat site to your social media pages. The agent could request the customer to provide positive comments on their social media site. This would serve as great publicity not just for the product but also for the customer service being provided by the company.

– Companies must proactively track the volume of chats on a daily basis. If the trend is increasing, they must recruit a few more agents to man the live chat sessions. The aim ultimately of live chat is to reduce the time and effort the customer must put in to connect with the company.

– Keep the live chat software updated. If a new feature of this software helps to make it more convenient for customers, at costs that can be justified, it should be done.

Customers will continue to demand and it would be a demand for the best. They are eager to do business but with a company that can resolve their problems within the time frame and with the accuracy they consider appropriate. Live chats can get your company closer to this goal saving money, time and effort for both you and the customer.

“The future of communicating with customers rests in engaging with them through every possible channel: phone, e-mail, chat, Web, and social networks. Customers are discussing a company’s products and brand in real time. Companies need to join the conversation”. – Marc Benioff

Learn about a new approach to better customer service!

Interactive Guides for Superior Customer Service

Create interactive decision trees for customer service management, cold call scripts or self-service. Improve sales performance metrics and customer delight across your call centers.

Interactive Decision Tree