What is live chat software and why use it?
Live chat software enables real-time instant messaging on your website between agents and customers. It doesn’t have to be a popup text box: it can also include screen sharing, voice conversations, video and more.
In most cases the software is browser-based, meaning that your customers don’t have to download or install anything. It can also be implemented as part of a mobile app – with full functionality including screen sharing and on-screen pointers.
Live chat has proved popular with customers, who love its immediacy and lack of stress, as well as with companies looking to lighten the load on call centres and make customer service operations more efficient. If used intelligently, it also has considerable potential as a sales tool.
Why live chat is an essential customer service tool
Here are some of the reasons why live chat should be a critical part of your strategy:
- You'll gain valuable analytical information
- Customers like (and expect) it
- It’s an additional sales tool
- You can offer more kinds of help
- Reduce the demands on your customer service teams
Get Personalised Insights into Your Business
Adding live chat to your existing customer service channels
That means your live chat offering should be integrated with your help desk software, which in turn should be a seamless part of your CRM solution.
When agents can see a complete customer profile right in their help desk console, they have valuable context that helps them to answer questions better and respond to the individual customer’s needs.
When the session ends, that customer profile can be updated with a complete, accurate record of the live chat, including questions, responses, actions and more. So you get a richer picture of your customer, which can inform your approach across their whole journey from marketing to after-sales care.
5 tips for a successful live chat implementation
Be clear about Availability
eDigital Research’s Customer Service Benchmark 2013 found that 64% of consumers expected to wait 1 minute or less for an agent in live chat. They recommend making agent availability very clear to the user both before and during the chat session, with messages telling them how long they are likely to wait and also showing when the agent is typing a response.
Maximise productivity; handle multiple chats at once
Find the right agents and empower them
Remember that in some ways the customer’s experience of live chat is more like phoning a call centre than it is like making an email enquiry. They will expect agents to be able to respond to open questions, to help them diagnose their problem or issue, and to have answers to hand without delay. Being asked to hold is no more fun in a live chat than it is on a telephone call.
Choose the right moment
Proactive live chat – where you prompt the customer asking whether they need help – is a great opportunity to leverage your website and customer journey analytics, helping you to choose just the right moment for a prompt to chat. Appropriate points for live chat in a customer journey might include:
- when a customer carries out a certain number of searches in the same session (suggesting they haven’t found what they need);
- repeat visits to the same product page in different sessions – this is particularly helpful for big ticket items where the decision process might take weeks or months;
- common drop-out points or known blocks in the purchase journey – a complex form, for instance, or a security validation process.
As with other context-sensitive communications, using this information to trigger chat sessions is a really smart way to tackle known customer pain points. Focusing your effort here can really pay dividends in terms of customer satisfaction and conversions.
That’s a lot of info!
Here’s what you should take away from this article:
- What is live chat software? Live chat software allows support agents and customers to message in real time.
- Is live chat an important customer service tool? Yes, live chat is essential to customer service, as it provides:
- Valuable analytical information
- Customer-friendly interactions
- Additional help functions
- Improved efficiency
- Can live chat be added to existing customer service channels? Yes. Live chat works alongside other customer service channels, including self-service customer portals, online knowledge bases, traditional call centres and social media.
- How do I get the most out of live chat? Optimise live chat by:
- Empowering the right agents
- Handling multiple chats at once
- Getting the timing right