Of the numerous channels used to deliver customer service nowadays, live chat consistently leads with customers. An ATG Global Consumer Trend study found that 90% of customers consider live chat helpful, while a U.S. Wireless Customer Care Full-Service Performance Study found that chat has become a leading contact source for customers, with 42% of customers using a live online chat feature. What's more, satisfaction levels are high on this channel. Econsultancy further reported that live chat has the highest satisfaction levels for any customer service channel at 73%--far outweighing other channels. How can companies implement live chat effectively to drive sales and customer service satisfaction?
Make sure customers see it's available. The key word here is "see"-when a live chat window pops up, customers need to see it clearly against the webpage they are viewing. This means a simple but large enough window with a good-sized, legible font as well as placing the window in such a way that it doesn't hinder the customer from continuing to navigate online. It's also important to offer it fairly quickly-if a customer has been on a webpage for a minute, it's fair to assume they are looking for information or serious about a product and may welcome assistance.
Make it a conversation. Live chat should be treated like any professional conversation. Agents should introduce themselves by name, ask for the name of the customer, and maintain a professional yet friendly tone. While it may be tempting to write shorthand or abbreviate words as many do on social media, it should never be done professionally--it is critical to write complete sentences with proper spelling and grammar so that the customer can clearly understand the agent. Furthermore, agents should refrain from using overly technical language customers may not understand or advertising company products or services. Live chat is all about striking a balance between answering customers directly with short, to-the-point answers and humanizing the customer experience by answering in a natural way even when some responses may be scripted.
Be timely. As with social media, timeliness is a must. Agents should answer promptly at an average response rate of 30 seconds at the most (between agent-customer comments). If a customer's case proves to be too complex to handle over chat, agents may offer to move to another channel such as voice for better handling. Agents should also provide a phone number in case the chat goes offline unexpectedly, and customers should be informed of wait times and when they are being placed on hold. It's a conversation, so never leaving the customer hanging.
Use analytics. Analytics provide excellent insight into customer behavior, and this can be especially beneficial for live chat. Analytics can determine which company webpages are most frequently visited, and companies may then prioritize the use of live chat on the most popular pages. Skill-based routing may then be used to direct live chat to the most qualified agents, boosting agent performance and customer satisfaction.