Live Chat: The Most Preferred Method of Communication

Live chat is a web service that allows businesses to chat with customers via live messaging. This mode of communication happens to be the most dynamic way of connecting with your customer. In fact, you can think of it as performance-enhanced email support.  If email support had a perfect life-long partner, live chat would be it!

Live chat can be used to great effect to help prospects with buying decisions and provide after-sales support to your regular customers.

Why it’s Important to Integrate a Live Chat Tool into Your Website

In this day and age, live chat is an extremely important customer service channel to have on your website. As mentioned, it is a highly dynamic way of connecting with customers:

Why did we refer to live chat as “performance enhanced email support”? It takes all the best qualities of email support such as pre-planned transcripts, clear verbiage, professional tones etc. and spins them into a channel where customers can communicate at a much faster pace. Problems are solved quickly and efficiently.

Live chat is pretty much like over-the-phone customer support. Your customers and prospects get the attention of a single representative who’s trained extensively on product knowledge and is familiar with basic as well as advanced troubleshooting steps. In addition, support reps are a prospect’s online encyclopedia when they wish to find out more about a new product. And, it allows people to easily multi-task while talking to your rep and getting there queries resolved.

Problems can be fixed within minutes. Your chat agents will have a number of tools and resources at their disposal which allows them to provide the same level of quick and well-informed support companies provide over the phone.

Live Chat or Email?

While it is important to seamlessly integrate both in your business model, the important of either should not be overlooked.

On one hand, email is needed to send offers and notices to customers from time to time, particularly newsletters. It works great as a medium to send messages that eventually require a response. On the other, having a great live chat feature on your website allows for immediate resolution to customer queries or those seeking information prior to purchasing from you.

However, in case of the latter, customers stay better engaged because they are in the middle of a live conversation. We’d say use a healthy mix of both, though we’re still leaning a little more towards live chat – something we’ll be discussing in great detail in this article.

By the way, did you know:

83% customers require live chat support in some form when making online transactions?

44% online visitors say having a live agent answer questions during a purchase is one of the most important features a website can offer?

91% people who have used live chat are satisfied with its ability to resolve customer service or tech support issues, get product knowledge quickly and aid in online buying decisions?

60% customers do not like waiting more than a minute to get support?

94% customers invited proactively to chat with the business were reported to be very satisfied with the experience?

62% are more likely to purchase online if live chat support was available? 


Top Features to Have in Live Chat

Here are some of the top features you should strive to have in your live chat support:

Live Visitor Monitoring

This feature can provide you with many helpful clues at a glance. By checking the keywords and URL used by visitors to get to your website, you can know a lot about their needs as well as expectations.

System Tray Notifications

Sometimes, a visitor might want to experiment with different settings within the live chat window or check out other information on your website. During this time, your agents can hold and switch to other tasks. Tray notifications make multitasking easy for them.

File Transfer

Some of your visitors might face compatibility issues and get errors which prevent them from viewing your web page properly. In this case, the file transfer features proves handy because it allows visitors to take a snap and instantly share it with the agent.

Spellchecker (this is important too!)

This can save your agent quite a bit of proofreading time and making responses clear and prompt. You’re agents should be able to type quickly with accuracy and this is where spellchecker comes in.

Inviting Others to Live Chat

You may feel the need to invite a team member or colleague to a live chat session in order to better aid customers. Additional integration might even allow your agent to other members to join in without the customer knowing. This helps when instant knowledge or know-how needs to be “borrowed” on the fly.

Support for Multi-language

Localization is an important feature to have in your live chat. You can also create custom XML files or even customize the existing Spanish, French or German XML files in order to change the language. Why limit your product and service to one region? Think global and accommodate people speaking different languages.

Conversation Logging

Have conversation history neatly tucked away so that it can be searched according to date and assistance provided, for example. Good to know what kind of help people ask for the most. It might help you better refine your product.

Offline Messaging

You never know when your website might be down for maintenance. Consider an offline messaging feature so that you can get in touch with those contacts and assist them however possible.

Chat Transcript of Support Provided

Some of your customers might request chat history to be sent to their email address for future reference. Add this feature to accommodate them.

Design Matches Website

The design of your chat window should effortlessly blend in with the rest of your site design.

Fast Exchange on All Connections

Consider transferring only the most relevant information between your chat server and the client’s browser, and transfer only when certain action is required. This keeps performance consistent even for those clients who are on a slow connection.

Scripted Responses

In a bid to respond quickly, have pre-written answers ready to frequently asked questions.

Keep it Secure

Make it regular practice to chat with your visitors using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). Your visitors will see the well-known padlock icon in their live chat window, assuring them the conversation is private and encrypted.

No Need for Page Refreshing

Implement a rich AJAX-based interface so that you can work smarter and more efficiently.

Live Chat Executed Well – Case Study

Sam’s Furniture, an online furniture and mattress business, is one example of live chat being used to boost sales.

The business sells large and expensive items, which people usually have a lot of questions about, as most do when it comes to purchasing expensive, relatively uncommon products.

Sam’s Furniture used tracking and analytics along with the live chat feature so that the chat option appears only to those prospects, which according to the analytics, have been comparing multiple products prior to purchase and have spent a desirable amount of time on the manufacturer’s website. This allowed their agents to only chat and engage with visitors who are highly likely to purchase.

End result: since implementing the live chat feature on their website to engage promising prospects only, Sam’s Furniture saw an additional $50,000 worth of sales every month, consistently at that too.

As is evident from the above case study, it really pays to have a live chat feature on your eCommerce website, which effectively leads to not only higher sales but also much improved customer satisfaction.

Good to know:

Live chat has become the leading contact source in an online environment; 42% customers prefer uses chat vs. 23% which use email.

62% customers expect live chat to be available on mobile devices and if it is, 82% would use it.

Live chat boasts the highest customer service levels on any channel; 73% compared to the 61% for email, and 44% for phone.

Among the respondents, 73% said they preferred live chat because their questions were answered quickly, while 51% said they did so because it allowed them to multi-task. In addition, 46% stated that it was the most effective communication channel.

92% customers said their online shopping satisfaction level increases when live chat is available to use on a mobile device.

Millennials are 20% more likely than baby boomers to use live chat, on account of convenience and very low ‘hold times’.


Top 6 Ways to Successfully Implement Live Chat in Your Business Model

When implementing live chat into your website, keep the following in mind:

1. Allow Multitasking

No one is interested in spending any more than 2-3 minutes on hold, waiting for your agent to respond. Don’t make it an obligation on your customers to stare at the live chat window until the agent finds the required information before replying. Give customers the freedom to multi-task by including a soft “ping” sound to let them know the agent or support representative has replied.

2. 24/7 Live Chat

Customers should have the luxury of reaching you whenever they have a problem or generally have something to ask. This can certainly happen outside regular 9-6 work hours. When you make 24/7 live chat available, you are not only reducing response times but also boosting customer satisfaction levels while significantly cutting down backlogged requests.

3. Sales-boosting Tool

Salespeople do not mind engaging in long live chat sessions at all. It allows them to subconsciously influence your prospects to buying certain products or services without going down the “hard sell” route. To begin with, a customer who is already at your website is motivated to buying your product. And, rather than just hoping that they purchase, you can engage them better by using proactive triggers like a live chat with a seasoned company salesperson. This reinforces their decision to buy from you.

4. Maintain Transparency: Chat Logs

A number of live chat software includes the option of providing a chat transcription or log to customers once the conversation is over. Consider this, as it’s important for them to have a point of reference in case the same problem needs to be discussed further down the line. In addition, these transcriptions also come handy when chat agents need to follow up on a query. All they need to do is look at the previous chat log and resume the conversation to help customers.

5. Give Company Personnel the Right Level of Access

Installing live chat software requires no infrastructure whatsoever – subscribe to the right package and add a few extra lines of code to integrate live chat functionality into your website. To make the most of it though, assign your respective call center staff, receptionist and/or sales team a time slot to monitor your live chat platform. This will monumentally increase your customer reach and give individual staff members a unique sense of responsibility.

6. Gather the Most Relevant Data

Live chat delivers a layer of unique data depending on what platform is used, which provides you with keen insights on customer behavior and needs, and helps serve them better. For instance:

You can see what the referring link was that led a customer to your website. This can be used to better understand what they’re looking for and be the first one to start a conversation if it hasn’t started already.

You can know if site visitors are currently idle or checking out a specific page.

Determine the time spent on site per visit; has the customer just arrived on your site or has he/she been browsing around for a while? In case of the latter, they definitely need your help and you should initiate the live chat.

Find out what OS and device your customers are using. Are they viewing your site from a desktop PC or mobile/tablet device? Use this information to tailor your support in a way that it seamlessly integrates with their device. You can also promote relevant products and services based on what devices your customers prefer using.

Certain live chat platforms also let you see how many past conversations you’ve had with your customer. If they have been served by your support staff before, you can modify greetings and message copy to welcome them back.  

What Live Chat Means for Upcoming Businesses and Companies

A new era of technology has changed how customer service is delivered. Live chat has truly proven itself to be a highly efficient channel for delivering live customer service. It is well suited to answering everyday queries and goes a long way in terms of improving customers’ online buying and after-sales experiences.  

Any business that’s slow to adopt live chat in their model is losing out on a chance to save significant costs in the race to providing high-quality customer service. Also, if you think about it, you’re not giving your support agents a chance to truly shine and go out of their way to please customers however possible.

Get Ahead with the AOK Advantage

Did you know your website is actually your best salesperson? And for it to truly shine, you need to integrate it with live chat capabilities.

AOK Marketing has been serving businesses in the digital marketing space for nearly 2 decades. Our marketers and designers are well-versed on the latest trends to deliver the highest quality customer service. Give us a call for a FREE consultation at 1.888.566.2577 or contact us directly to unlock the full potential of your online business.