The complete beginner’s guide to live chat in 2021 – Part 2

The complete beginner's guide to live chat in 2021

Missed part 1? Find it here!

Benefits of live chat:

The single biggest benefit of live chat is speed.

Today’s consumers are not known for their patience, and they have shorter attention spans than ever before. And who wouldn’t have, with an entire internet of distractions just a click away?

If someone’s on your website and they have a question, they want it answered now. Live chat lets them speak to an agent in real time, in a friendly, personal format that’s comfortable and familiar to them.  

It also helps prevent abandoned shopping carts.

Though it varies significantly across different industries, the average cart abandonment rate is around 70%. Often this is because of something outside of your control – such as unexpectedly high shipping rates – but even in these instances, having a live chat agent on hand can up your odds of closing the sale.

For example, they could offer alternative shipping methods, or discuss the customer’s options for a more affordable product so the overall cost is more like what they expected it to be.

In addition, a lot of people are (justifiably) worried about handing over their credit card details to a new company. Just by showing that you’re easy to contact and connect with, you already appear more reliable and trustworthy in the shopper’s eyes.

Increased customer satisfaction

Data from Zendesk, the San Francisco-based customer service software giant, shows that customer satisfaction ratings for live chat outrank help centre articles, email support, Twitter, and Facebook support.

This finding is backed up by data from Statista and ASCI, which shows that live chat satisfaction rates outperform other CS support methods across a wide variety of industries, including banking & finance, manufacturing, healthcare, transportation, and -ironically enough- telecommunications.   

Lower overheads and improved efficiency

The average live chat session costs your business between 20 to 50% less than a phone call. This is thanks to multiple factors:

  • Resolution times tend to be lower with live chat
  • Agents can assist more than one customer at a time
  • Increased conversion rates mean live chat doesn’t just cost less; it also brings in more money for your business

Live chat makes customer data collection easier

If you’ve ever visited a company’s contact page with a question, only to be greeted with a lengthy form asking for everything from your email address and phone number to your star sign and favourite colour (ok, we exaggerate a little, but you get the point), you’ll understand why collecting data from customers can be tricky.

During a live chat interaction with a real person, visitors are a lot more willing to offer up their data willingly. That’s because the interaction feels natural and personal, and they know their information is actually going to be used to help answer their question.

It’s easy to find and access

The harder it is for a prospect to find the information they’re looking for, the more likely they are to click away somewhere else. Live chat is easily accessible from whatever page the customer happens to be on, and takes very little time and effort on their part.

Live chat is fun!

Finally, thanks to its informal nature and familiarity in our everyday lives, live chat is a low-key, casual contact method that lets your customers speak as they would to a friend. They can even use emojis and emoticons like they would on their favourite messaging apps. 

How to get started:

Convinced? Getting started with live chat is actually quite simple. Once you’ve chosen the most appropriate software for your industry and needs, it’s a three-step process:

  1. Add live chat to your website.

This normally requires pasting a line of JavaScript into your website’s source code. However, many hosting platforms like WordPress offer plugins that do all the coding for you.  

  • Customize your settings and chat window.

You can edit colours, themes, and styles to fit your website’s look and feel and reflect your brand image.

  • Connect your customer service team.

Finally, it’s time to train up your live chat service team. This involves how formal/informal their language should be, where they can find answers to common questions, what to do if they can’t resolve the issue themselves, and how to use the software itself.

While the process itself is not complicated, it’s also important to consider whether running your own live chat is the best option for you, or whether you should outsource your live chat.

For example, if you have zero coding experience or don’t have enough support staff to man your chat 24/7, or simply can’t decide which live chat software is right for your business, then outsourcing may be a much more effective option. 

Making the most out of live chat:

Offering live chat on your website is an excellent start, but you may need to take some additional steps to ensure you’re getting the best possible value.

Be proactive

Customer’s not initiating the conversation? Then reach out to them. After a customer has been on your website for a few minutes, have an automated message pop up asking if they need help.

Be available

Here at OutsourceChats, we conducted a little study of our own into the availability of live chat across 163 websites. Rather shockingly, 70% of those websites were not available over the weekend, and even more alarmingly, 37% weren’t available right in the middle of the workday.

Investing in live chat software and then not making use of it isn’t just a waste of money – it’s also very frustrating for your potential customers. If you don’t have the staff resources to keep your live chat running when it should, then outsourcing it is highly recommended. This is especially important for ecommerce websites, as most online shoppers make their purchases over the weekend.

Be visible

It’s crucial to the right balance between a chat window that doesn’t impede the visitor’s browsing experience, yet is still clearly visible when they want to use it. A good way to achieve this is by using a colour which works with your website theme, but stands out just a little so the visitor can spot it easily.   

Show customers who they’re dealing with

Making the name of the agent clearly visible along with a photo of their face is good practice. This assures the visitor they’re dealing with a real person, not just a bot pretending to be a human.

Shout it from the rooftops

If you have long-standing customers, make sure they’re aware that 24/7 live chat support is now available. After all, they can’t make use of your awesome new live chat if they don’t know about it. Spread the word through an email newsletter and on your social pages. You can even mention it in transactional emails (such as when a customer receives their invoice or delivery confirmation) so you know they’ve been made aware.

In conclusion:

  • If you’re serious about customer satisfaction, then offering live chat on your website is vital.
  • Live chat can be customised to fit your specific needs, and those of your customers.
  • Live chat is versatile – use it across your sales, marketing, and customer support departments.
  • To get the most out of live chat, it needs to be available 24/7/365. If you don’t have the resources to accomplish that on your own, it’s easy and affordable to outsource your live chat service.

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