If customers are shopping on your website, it's not enough to provide a cart and transaction processing online. You also have to provide online customer service. Frustrated customers who can't find a quick answer for what they're looking for are less like to press the "Buy" button, or even come back to your website.
FAQs, customer message boards, and email contact forms may be fine for people with the time to spend, aren't in a big hurry, or who like to do their own research, but, more and more, people prefer live, online customer chat service and are more likely to return to a website that offers this feature.
The evidence is clear: consumers want live customer service chat:
- Almost twice as many wireless customers will use customer service chat instead of sending an email.
- Almost three times as many wireless customers will use customer service chat rather than contact you through social networks such as Facebook or Twitter.
- A whopping 90% of online shoppers like having the option of live, online chat support.
- Over 40% of online purchasers say that having a question answered live, during the purchase process was one of the most important factors in their purchase.
- More than 75% of online shoppers want to be able to make instant contact with a support person before making a buy; more than 50% say the lack of live service caused them to abort a purchase.
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Live Customer Service Chat Software
There are a number of chat platforms to choose from. Here are links to some of the most popular services:
Pricing is typically based on the number of operators per month, increasing from one up to unlimited. Key features to look for include:
- Ability to customize chat window, buttons, and widgets to conform with the look of your website and your brand identity.
- Floating invitation to chat window appearing whenever someone lands on your home page.
- Mobile and desktop functionality; mobile capability is a must-have as more and more users access the Web with mobile devices.
- Visitor chat tracking and monitoring.
- Ability to share documents and links, and display website pages to provide information.
- Allows for conducting customer surveys after the chat ends.
Related Article: How to Provide the Best Customer Service in Your Industry
Tips for Successful Customer Service Chat
The key to a successful live chat is proper training for the live person chatting from your end. To ensure chats provide high levels of customer service:
Separate Chat Reps and Phone Reps
It's generally not a good idea to have the same rep answer both chats and phone inquiries. They really are different skill sets and you want your staff to focus on one activity that they can excel at.
Monitor Chat Levels and Staff Accordingly
Most chat software programs allow for a single user to conduct multiple chats. Some questions can be answered in a few sentences with maybe only a couple of back-and-forths between rep and customer. More complicated or sensitive issues require more extensive handling. Monitor chats to get an idea of what a normal daily load might constitute and staff accordingly.
The whole point of live chats is to eliminate hold times and other delays typical of telephone conversations. At the very least, most chat software either removes the chat window or widget from the webpage whenever reps are unavailable or replaces it with a "Leave a message" window or similar notification.
Train Reps to Respond as People, Not as Scripts
Your reps should be responding to the inquiry, not spitting out a standard script. Train them to handle difficult situations and use their best judgment. Someone who initiates a chat complaining about a problem requires a different kind of response than someone inquiring about the features of a product or service.
Raise your Social Media Profile
Reps need to remind customers to like your Facebook page or provide a comment that you can tweet. Positive feedback is not only good for gauging how well you're doing, but it's good for marketing yourself to other potential customers.