Live chat has emerged as the preferred method of communication for many customers. Forbes found that 92% of customers feel satisfied when using live chat as a way to reach a business, far outperforming other available communication channels. If you are considering adding a live chat plugin to your site, there are several ways that doing so can directly help your customer service teams.
From saving you money and allowing for more efficient response times to integrating with the CRM you are already using and building better customer relationships, a live chat widget on your site will quickly become an essential part of your customer service strategy. It’s the rare business adjustment that can both lower your internal costs and improve customer satisfaction.
In this article we’ll look at eight different ways that live chat can provide a boost for your support team. And if you’re a customer service manager or other business leader still deciding whether live chat is right for your needs, check out our guide to learn the basics of live chat and how to add it to your site with a plugin or app.
Live chat allows your customer support team to multi-task. An agent can typically respond to several chat conversations at once. Phone agents can’t talk to more than one customer at a time in sequence, which makes phone customer service slower and more costly than live chat support. Text chat also makes it much easier for your agents to navigate through customer information and other helpful tools without leaving the visitor feeling unattended – especially since customers can easily multi-task as well, while they wait for progress to be made.
Since agents can respond to multiple customers at the same time, using live chat allows you to use a smaller team to answer more inquiries. You can even have an agent taking a call while also answering chats to increase the amount of conversations, though you want to be careful not to stretch your team so thin that customer experience begins to suffer. Regardless, live chat provides the perfect venue to either utilize a smaller team or to simply increase efficiency without having to hire a larger team.
Live chat allows for 24/7 support at a lower cost than a call center. You can reduce this cost even further if you combine live chat with chat bots. Chat bots will allow you to acknowledge and respond to inquiries around the clock even if you do not have staff that is actually available to work at all hours of the day.
You can also increase your efficiency with the use of mobile apps. Your team can answer incoming chats wherever they are by using a mobile app to respond to visitors. This means you can easily provide conversational support even while you are on the go or running around the workplace working on other tasks at the same time. This added flexibility increases the efficiency of your support team across the board, and can make a huge difference for small teams looking to provide the best customer service possible.
The immediate response time offered by live chat is a huge boost for customer satisfaction. A 2016 report found that 51% of consumers say that a business needs to have 24/7 customer support. Further, 42% indicated that live chat was their preferred channel because of the minimal wait time. If you’re in a company that believes in customer success (possibly even to the point of having a dedicated “Customer Success” team), then you should be looking at live chat as a tool to make that happen.
Live chat response time is much faster than the average response time when using email. Email response time across various industries typically ranges from over 12 hours to as long as 36 hours. It’s easy to see how reducing these long wait hours to the nearly instant response that can be provided by live chat will increase customer satisfaction.
Younger visitors especially prefer live chat and dislike reaching customer support with phone calls. Millennials instead have a preference for instant support and self-service they can do on their own. According to Forbes, 60% of Millennials have used a chat bot, with a 70% positive experience rate.
To make sure you set the right expectations for your live chat system, you can also make your “hours of operation” clear, or alternately hide the chat widget entirely when you don’t have an agent available to staff it. Just because you can provide 24/7 support with a live chat widget doesn’t mean you must if you don’t have the team in place to handle that. Sending a message that goes “ignored” for hours isn’t a good experience for customers, after all.
Live chat provides more effective support than other communication channels by virtue of being online support. Your live chat customer service agents can actually go straight to the page where a visitor is having problems rather than relying on vocal descriptions. An agent can browse right along with what the visitor is seeing, or even co-browse to see exactly what is being looked at.
Depending on the features of your live chat provider, it’s often possible to transfer files directly through the live chat widget. There is not a need to pause a conversation to pull up an email, then wait for the email to arrive before continuing, then divide attention back and forth for the same conversation. Instead, a document or file that needs to be shared is simply a part of the ongoing conversation.
Live chats can also be routed to different departments easily. If a transfer is needed, no additional lengthy hold time with annoying hold music is needed, the customer is simply switched to chatting with the appropriate party. Live chat also has various ways to make sure that the visitor is speaking to the right person before the chat even begins. You can route chats based on the department selected, such as choosing between Customer Support for technical issues or the Sales Team to assist with making a purchase. You can also route chats based on the page where a chat started.
You can use live chat integration with the customer relationship management software you are already using to handle your customer accounts. When properly integrated with your CRM, a live chat support agent will have the customer’s full history right on the same screen you are using to talk with them. You can bring up account information, timelines, review order history, pain points or technical trouble history, etc.
All this easy information at your fingertips means that you will not need to frustrate the customer by asking basic questions to access information in multiple systems. The information will already be available simply by starting a chat. This reduces the frustration of repetition and results in a more positive customer experience.
Using Live Chat means you will always have a paper trail. No more worrying about whether an agent neglected to save account notes after a call. If you have integration with the CRM that you are using, the transcript can automatically transfer straight into the customer account in your CRM as well. With live chat it is easy to refer to what was previously said in prior chat sessions, without the errors and issues that can result from transcribing phone calls or relying on summaries written after the fact.
Agents can also leave “chat notes” in your live chat system with relevant information for future customer service interactions. And transcriptions are valuable training tools as well. You can have copies of transcripts sent to the email address of your choice to archive for training, or you can even make them a part of your ticketing system, automatically sending transcripts for review and follow-up as needed.
You can read about how Formilla can integrate with Zapier for more on how live chat transcripts can be easily and automatically shared.
Personal, emotional connections with customers benefit your business in countless ways. As discussed by the Harvard Business Review, emotionally engaging customers can reduce attrition, increase advocacy, and lead to overall growth. Having live chat on your site gives you more opportunities to begin this relationship building, early and often.
Live chat is a great feature to have as part of your new customer onboarding process, and teaches customers who are just getting started with your product or service that support is just a click away. You can even add a link to chat with customer service into any onboarding emails you send out so new customers do not even have to go to your site to get help right away.
The convenience and quick response provided by live chat support will increase loyalty over time. This will help you reach the key final step in the sales funnel, where you have converted customers into repeat customers and evangelists for your business.
Live chat also provides priority support for key customers. For some businesses, providing immediate support to key clients and high-value customers is more important than just about any other consideration. If that describes your situation, then live chat is a great tool in order to make that a reality. Your most important clients will know that they can always get the help they need without waiting on hold, and that will help keep them loyal to your business.
Live chat software provides the opportunity to save responses to frequently asked questions. While care does need to be taken when using scripted responses, if used appropriately canned replies offer an opportunity for you to increase your efficiency even further. If your live chat agents field questions about shipping, free trials, or contact information multiple times per day, establishing a pre-written canned reply is a great way to deliver useful answers quickly in a way that satisfies customers and reduces the workload on your live chat agents.
Using canned responses also allows you to provide standardized, consistent information. This removes the guesswork both for customers, who may not have otherwise received a concise answer, and for customer support teams, who may have otherwise had to spend time tracking down the correct information. A saved answer to a common question also means that a complete answer is given every single time. This avoids a situation where the support team forgets to provide an important piece of information, and helps provide easy resolution to problems the first time, as often as possible.
Learn more about how to deploy canned messages in our video and written tutorials.
Live chat interactions provide a great opportunity to ask for email addresses or other information just in case the conversation is disconnected. You can easily customize how this is done as well in live chat. You can ask for contact information as a requirement to start a chat, you can set up some optional pre-chat fields, you can have an automatic request for contact information in case of disconnection after a chat starts, etc. No matter which option is used to request contact information, it is much easier to get information correct when typed out rather than spelled out over the phone.
As we’ve seen, live chat is a powerful – and customer preferred – method for reaching out to businesses for service needs. These eight ways that live chat can help your customer support team are likely to move chat towards your favorite way to communicate with customers as well. Feel free to sign up for a free trial today to start experiencing the benefits for your team!