Adding live chat support to a website has become a trendy move in recent years. Many companies wanted to match the expectations of a new generation of customers who thought starting a chat was more convenient than making a phone call. Additionally, website owners were attracted to live chat because of the potential cost savings.
As we see it in practice, however, live chat in itself is not able to give good results unless it is handled professionally. There are so many websites where, upon clicking a live chat link, you discover there is no one to answer your questions, or the help you are offered is so limited that you could have browsed the FAQ pages and gotten the same result. Live chat pays off only when customers can receive the help they want from it in a timely, efficient and professional manner.
Whether you are already using live chat software or you want to give it a try, consider these seven benchmarks if you want to offer quality help to your customers and make this tool work for you. [Looking for live chat software? Check out our best picks.]
1. Maintain sufficient online presence in chat support.
Website visitors don’t like seeing a live chat link on your website and not actually being able to chat with a real person. It's ideal to offer 24/7 chat support, because this gives your customers the freedom to ask a question at any time from the comfort of their home, office or even while traveling. If you can’t afford the luxury of round-the-clock service, it is good to specify the exact hours during which you will be available for a chat.
2. Brand your chat window by adding your company logo.
Customers need to be able to recognize your company no matter what part of your website they are viewing or what tool they are using. Even if you are using a third-party tool for your live chat, which is hosted on your provider’s server and has a different URL from your website, you need to let your customers know they are chatting with your company and not someone else. For this, add your company logo to the live chat messenger and customize the look of it to match the overall design of your website. This will tell your customers right away they are in the right place to ask their question.
3. Don’t let your customers wait for too long.
Customers expect their chat to be answered within one or two minutes at the most. If you keep them waiting more than that, they will most likely abandon the chat and will not see your answer even if you did answer at a later time. If you want to maintain your chat support line in a professional manner, then make sure your support agents are timely notified of an incoming chat and are instructed to pick up chat requests quickly.
4. Be careful when putting customers on hold.
No doubt, putting customers on hold is something you cannot totally avoid in customer service. If you want to offer quality help, many times you will need to ask the customer to wait until you find out the information concerning their request. You need to give special attention to the art of putting customers on hold when training support agents. The most important things are to ask customers is if they are OK to wait for a few moments, to tell them how much time approximately they will need to wait for, and to check back with them if their request takes more time than expected.
5. Let your support agents learn your product well.
Most of us have encountered a situation when a support rep cannot give a qualified answer regarding a product or service the company is offering or even worse, gives incorrect information about it. We are all human and if a real person is answering questions, mistakes are bound to happen. This, however, does not lessen the importance of giving a really thorough training to your support agents in every product or service your company is offering. Moreover, this type of training needs to be continuous through the agent’s employment, because products and services change and evolve, and we tend to forget the details.
6. Train your live chat operators in soft skills.
One may think that because the customer does not hear the voice of the operator during a live chat, they cannot really tell what intonation the operator has when answering. However, how a phrase is built and the type of language used tells the customer a lot about how one is being treated, whether it is with courtesy and respect or one is just being shaken off. If you are aiming for high-class, professional live chat service, paying attention to soft skills and teaching your agents to handle different aspects of a conversation properly, will add up a lot to the general impression customers will have on your service.
7. Offer your customers alternative contact options.
Live chat is a very easy, efficient and cost-effective communication channel, but don’t try to force all of your customers into this funnel. There are some old-school users who are used to phone support, there are others who find email to be the easiest way to get in touch with a brand. Leave all of those choices to your customers if you want to be knowns as a brand with great customer service. A great way to let your customers know of the alternatives is to share the other contact options right in the chat messenger, so that when your chat is offline, customers will see there are other ways they can get in touch with you.