When customers visit a store, sales professionals have the opportunity to personally help them as they make buying decisions.
As shopping has increasingly moved online, however, a business has lost that one-on-one connection with the buyers whose purchases they value.
If customers need help, they have to call a 1-800 line, send an email, or search through an extensive FAQs section. Many of them click away in frustration.
In recent years, some online businesses have found value in setting up live chat on their sites. When a customer visits, a window pops up asking if they need help. Most visitors will close the window and continue searching. But for those customers who do need help, the invitation to chat could make a difference between a shopper who buys and a shopper who leaves. Here are a few ways you can deploy live chat on your site without scaring customers away.
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1. Offer Rapid Service
A live chat window will do more harm than good if customers are forced to wait for five minutes or more for a response when they ask for help. Train your representatives to respond to requests for help immediately. If your representatives engage customers who look like they need assistance, instruct them to give customers some time on the site before asking if they need help.
2. Offer Extended Hours
If you offer live chat on your website, be sure to have someone on hand to chat during those hours when customers are most likely to be shopping. This goes beyond regular business hours, sometimes extending into evenings and weekends.
You could outsource your live chat operations, but you’ll need to make sure the service you use is fully trained to answer the questions customers are likely to have. Otherwise, you’ll need to assign employees to man the chat feature in the evenings and on weekends.
3. Use Typing Indicators
Many chat software solutions give businesses the option of showing customers a typing indicator when your representative is typing a response.
Turn this feature on. It will let customers know something is happening, rather than leaving them staring at a blank chat window with no idea if a representative is still on the other end of the conversation or not. Your representatives should always let customers know if they need a few extra minutes to check on something.
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Today’s technology tools allow businesses to collect information on customers based on minimal information. You may be able to tell from customers’ first and last names, for instance, their entire buying histories, as well as each interaction they’ve had with customer service. Use this information to inform the chat you have with each customer.
This will create a personalized experience that will increase the customer’s perception of your brand. Once the chat is finished, be sure you note the interaction on the customer’s history to allow the next customer service operator to provide fully-informed service.
5. Keep a Distance
Customers want to feel that they’re surfing the web in privacy, so the live chat window can seem invasive. Try to be sensitive to the customer’s need for personal space and avoid revealing too much of the information you have, especially if you’re monitoring the customer’s current interactions with your site. A shopper may not appreciate the fact that you’ve been watching his or her activities for the past 10 minutes, so it’s best to wait until the customer asks for help with a specific issue before volunteering it.
6. Keep It Attractive
Some businesses use pop ups to engage customers as they visit a site. However, a small “live chat” button placed strategically on the site, as this business did, is likely all your business will need. Customers who are interested in chatting will know they can click and request help and those who aren’t interested will be able to read around it. Make sure your button doesn’t distract from the products and services you’re selling.
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Live chat is a great way for businesses to give customers the help they need while visiting their websites. With the right approach, companies can provide top-quality customer service and possibly convince customers to make a purchase. It’s important to ensure representatives are well trained to be able to answer questions and provide information whether a customer connects during business hours or late into the evening.