The do’s and don’ts of implementing live chat
You would like to start using live chat for your company. Perhaps for your customer service, to generate more leads, or both. There are always a number of essential steps that you must take to successfully implement live chat in your communication strategy. And there are also several essential things that you should avoid. We have listed the dos and don’ts of live chat for you.
Let’s start with what you should do. Below are a number of important points that you should not skip when implementing live chat:
Set (SMART) goals
When starting with live chat, it is important to have a number of clear, SMART goals. For example: “I want the number of incoming customer service calls to be halved within two years”. This creates clear, tangible and measurable goals for yourself and your team. Make sure they are realistic!
Determine how much money you want to spend
It is also important to consider how much money you are willing to spend. If you think live chat is an investment that will generate a lot of revenue in the long term and/or considerably reduce costs, you can use this information to determine which contract and which provider is most suitable for you.
Determine when you want to be available
Would you like to be more available during office hours, or outside of office hours? And for how many hours? Have a look at when the busiest time is for your customer service or your website. In the beginning, it will be tricky to determine how many people you need to hire, but a live chat software provider can assist you in this.
Purchase the right chat software
Now, you need to look for the right software. There are various options. Cheaper software has limited options (like adapting the chat window or the number of users). More expensive software often has more options, like changing the window or adding a logo, but also collecting data.
Properly train new employees
Successful chat operators don’t just show up on your doorstep; they require adequate training. And this type of training is very different than the training required to prepare employees for working on the phone. The skills required differ in areas like tone of voice, typing skills and multitasking. Always make sure there is a manual at the ready that includes (good and bad) examples and chat and software instructions.
Outsource (or do it yourself)
If you have a rough estimate of how much money you would like to spend on live chat per month and at which times you would like to employ it, you can start to determine how many people you will need for how many hours during the week and at which times. Based on this, you can determine whether you would like to tackle it yourself or outsource. For most companies, it is better to outsource live chat.
Promote your chat channel
One of the most important points when implementing live chat is to promote it via different communication channels. When customers phone you, make sure to mention that you’re also available via chat and that this form of communication is often faster. If people aren’t aware of the live chat option, they won’t be making use of it.
Finally, it is important that you continue to remain watchful of which areas of live chat are working for you and which aren’t. Which goals are being achieved? Raise the bar as you’re going along to achieve more, and change course in areas where things aren’t going that well. Maybe you need more chat operators at certain times, while chat operators working at other times might be unnecessary. Also present your visitors with a short questionnaire after a chat is completed. With this, you can ask them about their chat experience.
Now that you know what you should do, let’s continue with what you should most definitely avoid:
Forget to use the “not available” button
When your chat operators are away, it is important that they change their status to “not available”. If they don’t do this, chats will continue to come in, which will not be answered, or, if an answer is given, the visitor might have already left – possibly to the competition…
Purchase software that is too expensive
Don’t purchase software that is suitable for 100 users when you only have a team of seven users. The 93 unused users will cost you money unnecessarily.
Sell a product or service
Live chat is highly suitable as a tool to generate leads with, but it is not advisable to have chat operators conducting sales activities. Chat is not an effective channel for this, and sales representatives have one particular skill that most chat operators do not possess, the ability to sell. A chat operator who spends too much time pushing may in fact scare potential customers away. Chat operators should be gathering information and filtering.
Not use the stored data
Live chat software collects certain data, such as the location, type of device, or account information (if the customer in question has one). With the customer account open, you no longer need to ask for their information, meaning you can assist your customers faster or redirect them to a physical shop.
Typing the way you talk
The way we communicate in chat (the words and sentence structure we use) differs strongly from the way we communicate via telephone. Using the same sentences that you would use in a telephone conversation will make chat operators sound unnatural and contrived.
Switching to autopilot
Although it can be very busy at the chat desk, it is never wise to automate messages (with the exception of proactive greeting messages). This will make you seem robotic. Your visitors opt for live chat with a reason; they want to talk to a person. Give them that personal experience.
Focus too much on the time per chat
Chatting is fast, which is why many people opt for it, but sometimes your visitors need time to gather all the information they need to make a decision. Consider the average time per chat as a guideline and never neglect offering your visitors real service.
Not work efficiently
Do not ask double questions and use all information you have efficiently, because there are more visitors waiting to talk to one of your chat operators. Don’t forget that your visitors’ time is also important.