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Customer Service Blog

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Creating an excellent live chat experience for your customers

by Alex Mercado | May 15, 2019

Even though phone an email are still the most used communication channels across demographics; live chat continues to gain traction with 44% of millennials and 43% of Gen Z using it to get in touch with companies (source). For customers, it provides immediacy when they want to resolve an issue. For companies, it is an excellent way to cut down costs, increase sales and generate leads.

 

Live chat best practices

 

Live chat works as a customer support channel, and as a pre-sales tool. It gives you the ability to reach out to potential customers and engage with them. When you address your customer's pain points instantly, they are much more likely to make a purchase. Using live chat correctly contributes to a positive customer experience, but when it is not used correctly, it can leave customers frustrated and can turn them away.

If you are new to live chat or you are thinking about having it on your website, these tips can help you create a positive experience that your customers will remember.

 

Respond to chats

This might sound like an obvious suggestion but as it turns out 21% of all live chat requests are ignored, and there is nothing that will frustrate your customers more than not getting an answer. Not responding is the same as telling your customers that you are not listening to them and you do not care about any issues they might have. If your live chat is active so should you!

If you are running a small business having live chat 24/7 might not be possible just yet. We recommend as a starting point, having a look at your traffic patterns. From there it will be easier to decide the most critical hours to have your live chat activated.

 

KEEP RESPONSE TIMES LOW

Customers want quick and effective responses, that is why they contact you through live chat in the first place. So, be sure not to keep them waiting. This goes from the moment they initiate a chat request and throughout the whole conversation.

If you are not available to chat right away be sure to create an automatic reply– “We typically reply in a few minutes” or “Don’t have time to wait for a response? Leave your email to get notified when we reply.” This will help you set expectations up front, and your customer won’t feel ignored or abandoned.

Sometimes you might not have the information they requested right away, and you need some time to research the proper solution. If this happens, be sure to let the customer know you will need some additional time, not just disappear from the conversation.

 

Empathize

No matter what channel your customers are using to reach you, empathy is a must have. During live chat conversation phrases like ‘’I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with this...” or ‘’Thank you for getting in touch about this...” can validate and show appreciation for the problems your customer is currently facing.

Conveying empathy or understanding during a live chat session can be challenging; your responses can come across as pity or robotic. Be sure to be genuine and recognize the emotion your customer is having, acknowledge their reaction, reassure that you will try your best to fix the issue and appreciate their effort.

 

End the chat on a positive note

You should always aim to end the chat on a positive note, those last moments of the conversation can end up undoing all your great work. Before any abrupt goodbyes be sure to ask the customer if they are satisfied with the solution and if there is anything else they need help with.

 

Choose your words carefully

Some phrases that can sound perfectly innocent could create friction. Going back to the previous point, if you end the chat by simply saying “Goodbye” it is difficult for the customer to convey the tone. They might read it as dismissive or rude despite your best intentions.

Another example is the phrase “just a moment,” there is nothing wrong with this, but when someone reads it, it lacks context. If you need time to solve an issue is better to say “[Name], I need to check the details of your purchase; this might take a few minutes. Would you mind holding?”.

The customer still needs to wait for a response, but you’ve explained to them why their answer might take some time and managed their expectations correctly.

If you want to guarantee a positive experience, there are some things you should never say over live chat. Being thoughtful of the way you express yourself will avoid frictions or misunderstandings and make communication with your customers more effective.

 

Promote self-service

One of the advantages of live chat is that you can send or receive links or files. Be sure to utilize this feature in your favor. If you already have a robust knowledge base where everything is explained in detail be sure to share the link with your customers. More customers helping themselves means more time for you to help additional ones.

 

Chat as an upsell opportunity

As said before live chat is a powerful support channel, but it can also be used as a sales tool. Take advantage of this and make the most out of the sales you are already getting by cross-selling and upselling. If you are unfamiliar with these terms, here are a couple of examples.

Cross-selling means offering your customer a product from a different category that complements the one that they are initially buying. For example: If they are looking into buying a game console you can offer them a game or a headset.

Upselling is when you encourage your customer to buy a more expensive product or to add an additional feature. For example: If they are buying a headset you can offer the same ones but the wireless edition that costs a little more.

That said, don’t be too forward and be sure not to make any of these mistakes or you will end up turning customers away.

I hope these tips can help you implement live chat into your customer support strategy. If you are still unsure of what channels to use, make sure to research trade-offs of each channel before making a final decision. If you are already using live chat tell us in the comments what strategies you use to create an excellent live chat experience for your customers.

You might also like:

How to hire your first customer service representative

The 4 most effective eCommerce customer service practices

The 7 most common outsourcing myths

Customer Service Basics: The How-to Guide

 

Alex Mercado

Alex Mercado

Alex works from Utrecht, which has been her home away from home for several years. Originally from Mexico, she enjoys creating content and listening to podcasts. In her spare time, she likes to cook Mexican food and play Mario Kart.

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