5 ways live chat operators personalise online shopping

A family shopping for clothes in a department store (Photo: P Lissac / Godong)
When looking to personalise online shopping, skilled live chat operators can play a major part. It is widely accepted that the more personal a shopping experience becomes, the more likely you are to convert a visitor into a customer, and then convert a customer into a loyal fan.

And we all know what loyal fans do. They not only spend more, and more frequently, they are also more likely to share their great experiences via social media, their peers and their friends.

Live chat can play an important role in adding a real personal touch to the online shopping experience. For the customer, live chat is seen as a friendly and real engagement as opposed to being computer generated. The key though, is how best to use the customer insights provided by live chat software platforms to allow live chat operators to become trusted friends and real personal shoppers.

1. Live chat operators should use customers' names whenever possible 

Live chat software allows website owners to decide whether they want to ask customers for their name and maybe email address before starting a chat. While the requirement to give a name may cause a degree of abandonment, for those that do continue to chat this gives the live chat operators the opportunity to kick off the conversation in the best way possible -- by using the customer's name. However, it is not enough to just use the name at the beginning of the conversation. Skilled live chat operators will use the name at various points and then again at the end of the chat when they say goodbye.

Additionally, all live chat operators should have names that the customer can see and which reflect the values of the brand. Now, those names need not necessarily be the live chat operators' real names, but they should be names that are suitable for the brand. So if you have a business selling fair trade women's clothing, it may be useful to have operators with female names such as April, Susie or Petal. If you are selling plumbing supplies, you may wish to use Bert, Mike and Charlie. You'll probably have little success with live chat if you have Bert appearing to sell women's clothes.

2. Understand current and previous visit history

Live chat platforms enable you to track visitors across websites in many ways. You will be able to see referral urls, previous urls, current urls, keywords and many other insights. Skilled live chat operators also know how to interpret these statistics to understand more about the customer persona and therefore the goods or services they are likely to be interested in.

So what should you be looking for?

  • Greet customers by name and welcome them back to the online store;
  • See previous live chat history and which topics have been discussed;
  • Understand purchase history so that customer preferences can be used to help drive a conversation;
  • See whether a person has repeatedly visited the same or similar pages in a recent period;
  • See where they may have had a problem previously and ask whether it was resolved to their satisfaction;
  • Ask them what they thought of the last items they bought.

3. Live chat operators act as personal shoppers

In traditional shops shopping can be a very social experience. People will go out shopping with friends and they enjoy a good natter, a laugh and value feedback and opinions on the items they are thinking of buying. Added to the mix are shop assistants, and if they're any good, they will be adding to the conversation by offering advice and suggestions. Online, much of this is missing.

It can be very lonely shopping online, there is no-one to help and decisions are often reached based on the reviews of strangers. The kind of advice that is just not there includes such things as wanting advice on colour coordination, choosing the right items for the right events, or just some plain old reassurance that the purchase represents good value for money.

At Yomdel, we often see customers asking for personal advice and the opinion of the live chat operators. Some people really appreciate that guidance and contribution. So much so, that we will often also see customers being accompanied across multiple pages of an ecommerce website and then all the way through to eventual checkout. This could never be achieved by telephone or email, and the real advantage is that a chat can last for as long as the customer needs it.

4. Offer a friendly shoulder to lean on

Chicken helping an old lady across the roadReally skilled live chat operators know how to gain trust from the customers they are chatting with and sometimes this can take off in unexpected directions. It's not unheard of for some web visitors to actually start taking the live chat operators into their confidence and sharing personal issues.

Of course, the live chat operator is trained to be a sympathetic listener but not too pry into the private affairs of the customer. But through giving support, trust grows and the customer is more likely to return time after time. We're seen a few cases of this where shoppers have made reference to marital problems, issues with their bosses at work, or even the challenges they face due to being transgender. The key is not to judge, but only to offer support when it is needed, whether that is in finding the right size or letting someone vent about their husband or wife.

5. Always follow up and deliver help when it's promised

We all know the score. We have a query online and are unable to find the answer. So we send off an email to the company concerned, sit back and wait for a response. And we wait and wait and sometimes wait some more. 24 hours? 48 hours? Even 72 hours is not uncommon. And then when the email finally lands it fails to answer the original query. We are frustrated and fed up. It's a poor customer experience.

A great live chat experience is mostly created by answering questions quickly, clearly and with a friendly tone. But it is also important to consider how customer expectations can be carefully managed. This means that if your operators don't know the answer to a question they can at least promise the customer when and how an answer will be provided. No matter how big the company, it is possible to go the extra mile to deliver a great online shopping experience.

Skilled live chat operators will carefully capture the essential details -- name, contacts and nature of the query -- and then promise when the customer will either receive a call back or an email giving the specific and personal answer that is required.  If the customer then receives that call, at the time it was promised, no matter how trivial the query, they will feel special and they will have a good news story they want to share.

 

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