Female customer support operator with headset and smilingFemale customer support operator with headset and smiling

By Deevra Norling

Consumers today prefer live chat over more traditional channels to handle customer service issues, according to J.D. Power. It’s become a quick and efficient way of resolving problems—or at least, it should be. If your live chat isn’t being handled right, it can lead to frustrated customers who will leave your website and never return.

To keep customers happy, here are seven ways to improve your customers’ live chat experience:

1. Be responsive

The main reason live chat is so popular with customers is immediacy. When it comes to customer service, 82% of customers rate an immediate response as very important when they contact a company with a query. Anything longer than 10 minutes is too long.

Offer fast response times, immediate rerouting to the relevant department, and quick resolutions to complaints. Using tags can help you categorize, search, and resolve queries quickly. Make sure you have a large enough team to avoid long wait times, especially during busy periods.

2. Prompt visitors with a question

If you’re reluctant to initiate a conversation with a visitor to your website for fear of chasing them away, don’t be. Research shows that 52% of customers are receptive to a live chat prompt.

Chats are a great lead generation tool when used effectively. New visitors to your website may be searching for information. Using live chat to initiate a conversation and offer assistance could prevent them from leaving before they find what they’re looking for.

3. Be human, not robotic

During a live chat, customers should feel like they are talking to a real person, and not a bot. This is a chat so it should be conversational and in the first person; communication should not be too formal or come across as scripted. “Let me look into this right now” is more personal than “We at XYZ are here to help.”

Train your chat agents to create a human connection and infuse your brand’s personality into chats. They should be cheerful, eager to help, and express empathy to customers’ who are experiencing problems. Agents should be adept at reading customers’ tone. Some customers may enjoy friendly banter while others prefer a business-like approach.

4. Include the option for video chat

If you really want to kick things up a notch, implement live video chats. Face-to-face interaction allows agents to pick up on customers’ demeanor through their facial expressions and body language and respond appropriately.

Because a video chat is more personal than text or voice chat, it can help diffuse tense or irate customers. It’s easier to yell by text or in a voice chat, but when customers see a human face, their aggression tends to dissipate.

Video chats also offer another benefit. They are useful when visual instructions will be more effective than text in assisting a customer.

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5. Integrate live chat with other platforms

For the most efficient customer service, choose an omnichannel system that integrates with other business systems and platforms. Customers contact your company by phone, email, on social media, and via the chat widget.

A multichannel CRM system can pull interactions from customers from multiple channels and centralize everything. It uses a ticket system that makes it easy for agents to view all previous interactions and offer assistance quickly.

If you run an e-commerce store, integrating your e-commerce software with your CRM system means you can respond to sales queries immediately and follow up on customers who did not complete a sale. Imagine what that could do for your sales revenue?

6. Incorporate automated chatbot responses

While live chat is always preferable to a chatbot, there are times automated chatbot responses are necessary. Chatbots can fill in during times when live agents are unavailable and can provide standard information about your company.

If your live chat is only available during office hours, set up a chatbot after hours to let customers know when you will be able to attend to their query. Make sure you actually do respond when you say you will as nothing makes a customer lose trust in a brand faster than false promises.

You can also use a chatbot to provide automated answers to frequently asked questions. If a customer finds the answer to their question, it saves them time and it reduces the number of customers in the live chat queue.

7. Ask for feedback at the end of a chat

Some companies run a superb live chat service but skip one important step: requesting feedback. You’ll be surprised at how many customers are happy to offer their opinion and appreciate the chance to do so. Asking customers to provide feedback is a great way to further improve your customer service, alert you to product or company weaknesses, and identify potential opportunities.

For a higher response rate at the end of a live chat, keep your questions short—up to a maximum of five. Multiple-choice questions are faster to answer, but include one open-ended question so that customers can provide additional feedback in their own words.

Why it’s important to improve your live chat experience

Real-time chats are fast becoming the preferred method of communication between businesses and customers. Not only can it improve customer service, live chat can also increase conversions and boost revenue.

A survey by Anderson Consulting showed that 62% of online customers say they would buy more products from a company with live chat support. Another survey reported by Invesp revealed that shoppers using live chat tend to spend 60% more on purchases.

More customers are shopping online than ever before. So, it makes sense that they also want immediate access to online support during and after their shopping experience. The more robust, seamless, and efficient your live chat service is, the more customers will want to return and purchase from you in the future.

RELATED: 9 Ways to Use Facebook Chatbots to Grow Your Business

About the Author

Post by: Deevra Norling

Deevra Norling is a content writer who covers entrepreneurship, small business, careers, human resources, e-commerce, auto insurance, travel, pets, freelancing, and personal development. She also runs a thriving little pet-sitting business.

Connect with me on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Originally published at All Business

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