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5 benefits of live chat and 5 steps to consider before offering the service on your site

Growth Secrets|25.02.2014

Live chat has benefits beyond customer service?! Shock, horror! Here are 5 reasons for putting live chat on your site; and how to properly implement it into your business.

Customer convenience

Yes, okay, the first one is kind of about customer service…but the rest won’t be.

You may have a beautifully designed site with all the relevant information on it, but occasionally customers will have a question. What customers don’t want is a big wait for an answer to their question. What they do want is quick assistance, whilst they are still shopping on your site. In fact, 71% expect to be able to access help when purchasing online within five minutes – 31% expect help to be immediate. (LivePerson, Connecting with Customers report, 2013)

Emailing and making phone calls to customer service can mean a long wait for a reply and even a costly bill. Live chat gives the option of a quick reply, for free, whilst the customer is on site.

If a customer has a question and you don’t have live chat, they might leave your site for a competitor whilst they wait for a reply. If you have live chat, you can quickly solve the customer’s issue and they can continue to complete their order on your site.

Reduced basket abandonment

Figure out where customers are abandoning and then ask them why.

Well-designed site but high basket abandonment rate? Something is certainly amiss. You need to find out why it’s happening, and fast. If your site visitors are abandoning their shopping baskets then they are probably being faced with a situation where they are lacking information or are not liking the information which they do see.

There is only a certain amount which you can learn from site data. It predominantly tells you when and where customers are leaving your site, whereas live chat allows you to actually ask customers if they have a problem and if they need any help.

Inviting visitors to chat on the pages which seem to have a high exit rate will greatly reduce the amount of visitors abandoning their shopping baskets. You can find out what information potential customers are lacking or what problems they are faced with, and then get to work solving it for them.

Build trust

Letting online shoppers get to know you encourages them to buy.

In a traditional bricks and mortar store we can ascertain whether we trust a company from the look and feel of the store and the behaviour of the staff which we interact with. Apart from for well-known brands with a plethora of reviews, we can’t do this with online stores.

The best way to gain trust is allowing your customers to chat with you. A friendly conversation with a representative of your company builds trust and lets shoppers learn a little more about you and your products. Consumers don’t want to buy unknown products from an unknown company. Trust means sales.

Cross-sell/upsell

Give your customers real recommendations, from real people.

Automated upselling systems don’t always work. Well they work, but not as well as live chat does. Automated systems just use data about previous purchases in order to decide what to recommend to customers. “Customers who bought these walking boots also bought this raincoat…”

Live chat allows a chat agent to discover the story behind the customer’s purchase. Perhaps this customer buying walking boots is going on safari…perhaps they might like to be recommended a nice pair of shorts for the warmer and drier climate, rather than a raincoat.

Live chat means a more convenient shopping experience and an increased average order value.

Customer feedback

Find out your customers’ pain points and get to work solving them.

Most customers will only send you feedback via email or a review form if they have had an amazingly positive experience or a disturbingly negative one. What about the customers that feel they’ve just had a mediocre experience? These shoppers won’t be too fussed about returning, but at the same time, they won’t tell you why.

Live chat in an easy to find place encourages customers to come to you with even the smallest of troubles. Customers lacking information can have questions answered fast. And customers just a little unhappy with an experience will open up to a friendly live chat agent.

Live chat agents can fix customer problems and spot trends so that you can work to provide a better all-round service.

So you’ve seen some of the benefits of live chat. Considering implementing it on your site? Here are the steps for putting it into action:

Step 1: Software selection

Before looking for the right live chat software, you need to decide what your requirements are. How much are you willing to pay? What level of customisation do you expect? How much support do you think you’ll need?

There are a tonne of live chat software providers out there and deciding which one you will use will affect the level of training your agents will need and how visitors will be able to interact with chat.

Top tips: Don’t pay for a license which is for 100s of agents when there is only going to be a few agents on chat. Make sure you choose software which allows you to customise chat in line with your brand.

Step 2: Agents

The next step is employing the right people and giving them the correct training.

You need a team of agents dedicated to chat in order to provide low response times and a high standard of service. Deciding on the number of agents to employ can be difficult. Chat traffic can vary sporadically. You need to have enough staff to keep response times low but don’t want them twiddling their thumbs at quiet times due to overstaffing.

Your agents also need to be online when your customers are, so in most cases your live chat team need to be employed to work into the late hours of the evening.

Live chat agents need to be fast typists, diligent in their work and have a friendly attitude. They also need to be well trained on your company, products, procedures and how to help your customers and push them towards a purchase.

Top tips: Give agents plenty of practice chats before going live with chat. Keep agents in the know on promotions which they can use to sell to customers. Consider outsourcing live chat to a dedicated UK company which can provide chat cover when your customers are online, with a consistent high level of service.

Step 3: Decide what you want to get out of chat?

Live chat could just sit at the bottom of the page and wait for a customer in need to use it at their own discretion. Or it can be used for all of the benefits above…and more.

If you want to stop basket abandonment then you’ll need to be proactively inviting customers to come and chat. If you want to improve your cross-selling then agents need to know what products work well together and how your products can meet specific customer wants/needs.

Look at your site data to see where on your website customers are having problems or are considering adding more items to their basket. Invite customers to chat with relevant introductions when they are in these situations in order to convert more sales. Ask if they need any help or if they would like to be recommended a product which compliments the one which they have selected.

Top tips: Use proactive chat invites to offer customers help and boost average order value. Set-up processes for next steps after a chat closes; how can the information gained about a customer be used to your advantage?

Step 4: Design

Your live chat window should be designed to fit in with the look and feel of your site. A foreign looking chat window can make customers wary of interacting with it.

Step 4 is designing a live chat window, tab (the little box that stays at the bottom of the page) and possibly an eye-catcher (an image which grabs attention and gets people clicking on chat) that fits in with your brand and encourages site visitors to chat.

Top tips: Design your live chat window in line with your branding (logo, imagery and colours). Don’t make your live chat obtrusive to the overall site experience; use an eye-catcher to get attention but don’t let it take up half the page.

Step 5: Measure and improve

Information gained from live chat should be put to use in improving your customer service and increasing conversion. Chats with current and potential visitors contain a wealth of insight. Are your customers happy with your current service? What can be done to improve customer satisfaction and your conversion rate?

Value feedback from agents on trends they have spotted and don’t just use chat to solve problems and make sales on an individual basis. By Step 5 you’ll have chat running on your site.

Now build a knowledge base. Include FAQs and common company procedures for agents to use. Have a resource for recording problem areas and potential improvements so that after listening to customers you can act on what they have said.

Top tips: Pay as much attention to what your customers are saying on chat as you do your site data. Create an ever evolving knowledge base which agents can easily access, so that your level of service continues to grow.

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