5 critical questions before deploying live chat

By Tim Breden, Commercial Director, Yomdel

Outsourced live chat can deliver great customer service These days many ecommerce and service organisations are waking up to the benefits to be gained from a live chat solution bolted onto their website. However, before steaming head first into what is considered to be the “next big thing” there are some very important considerations to be made.

1. Do we do live chat in-house or outsource?

The common mistake here is to try and place live chat operators in-house as we all want to control our enquiries and we all feel we can do it better from the company offices, but can we? The mistake often made is giving the task to people who, you feel, can be a part time live chat operators and pop in whenever a live chat request comes in. Because most businesses will massively underestimate likely chat volumes, this approach can lead to missed chats or delays in answering as other tasks and commitments need to be met. If, at the outset, you did this to improve your customer experience or to gain better conversion rates then you could be creating the opposite?

It is important to recognise that to do live chat properly, and create a great customer experience, you really need dedicated resources. For this reason, outsourcing your live chat operators starts to look quite attractive.

2. If we outsource how will live chat operators know our company and adopt our culture?

Great point and one organisations don’t always fully consider until they start “on-boarding”, the term used for deploying live chat and developing a full understanding of your business, its needs, its objectives and any cultural considerations that need to be made.

Any good outsourced live chat provider should be offering the opportunity to go out and train the operators and also have the chance to “test” them before going live.

3. How much do I want to pay for a complete live chat service?

Most people would like the idea of paying nothing, and only paying when something is sold via live chat.  Unbelievably, depending on the structure of your business, your web traffic, average order values and gross profit margins, this can often be an option open to you. Alternately, you may prefer to have a dedicated team working on an FTE basis or paying per chat.  Good live chat suppliers will offer a full “live chat solution” and have variable costing models that are specifically geared to your business requirements.

4. Can my IT team cope with deploying live chat?

Again this is really simple. Your web guys just drop some tracking code onto your website and the live chat software will then reference this to deliver live chat functionality and give you the most detailed reports you could want on customer behaviour, abandonment, sweet spots and other areas to further improve the service you offer and to improve your website.

5. Who should I use and where should my live chat operators be based?

This isn’t easy and there are many companies offering live chat solutions. But in the main, if you look for a live chat service that  offers a full solution with flexible pricing and the right to train or test the live chat operators, you won’t go far wrong.  Outsourced live chat operators can be located in numerous countries around the world and have varying abilities in terms of their appreciation and understanding of the English language. The best way to address this is to ask for some live chat transcript examples to see what people are asking for and what responses they are getting.  As important is the time it takes for operators to respond and their grasp of good grammar and excellent typing.

Taking this approach does require a strong commitment, especially at the outset creating -- with your live chat supplier -- a comprehensive knowledge bank and set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), but it could be well worth it. Afterall, who doesn't want more online sales, higher average order values and happy customers?

About the author: Tim Breden is the Commercial Director of Yomdel and he likes live chat almost as much as he like cakes.