By Yomdelier on 08/02/13 08:53
By Andy Soloman, CEO, Yomdel
Every brand is special and every business has a set of values and characteristics that are unique. For many companies looking to introduce professional live chat services, the key question is how new live chat operators will be able to protect the brand identity while significantly enhancing the customer experience and boosting customer satisfaction.
This week I met with a group of senior managers and executives at a major travel company. This widely recognised brand was rightly proud of its traditional customer services and the fact that its teams -- whether sitting within centres taking phone calls or whether it was people out on location at the holiday destinations -- were hugely knowledgeable and seen as critical in serving both pre- and post-sales customer queries.
But with a business still very dependent on travel agents, they also wanted to find ways to significantly increase online conversions through helping customers choose the right holiday at the right time. With an existing online conversion rate of around 1%, the opportunity was there to push that figure up, but with a goal of also enhancing the online customer experience and helping people make decisions around finding the right holiday package.
They worried that live chat operators with less knowledge of the brand could undermine that top tier service to tip online customers into a poor experience that would reflect badly on the values the company held so dear.
These are real and justifiable fears, and live chat operators are never going to replace that 5-star customer support, but they will offer the customer greater choice in choosing just how they want to interact with a brand and its products. So, with further ado, here's
Five ways that live chat operators can enhance the customer experience
1. Provide immediate answers to common questions.
The great benefit of live chat is that brands can provide support to give customers immediate answers to their questions. Often these questions can be relatively minor, and when faced with having to make a phone call or send an email, customers may not bother. If they then can't quickly find the answer, they are more likely to abandon and take their business elsewhere. No matter how specialised your business is, it will still have customers that ask common questions. These questions can be easily gathered into a knowledge base that grows over time and which allows all live chat operators to quickly and clearly give the correct answer. Done properly, it is a seamless experience that enables the customer to move swiftly on and complete their purchases.
2. Manage customer expectations.
Just because a customer is chatting, or has a question doesn't necessarily mean that they will always expect a full answer. Customers are a savvy lot, and they will know when their questions may be a little complex, or require a bit of digging around to find the right information. The key here is in the management of expectations.
If the live chat operators don't immediately know the answer, they can pass the query over to the experts and promise that someone will be back in touch within a short while. That could mean a personal telephone call within an hour or the same day, or perhaps an email a little later. But the important thing here is the customer feels they are getting a very personal service, and that their questions are being treated seriously. Simply put, the customer will feel special, and the Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) or Net Promoter Scores (NPS) will reflect that.
3. Help customers reset passwords or access their accounts.
We've all done it. We get through to a certain point in the customer journey and then need to enter our login details, but for one reason or another we have forgotten our password, username or both. For a returning customer, registering a new account is not an option, and sometimes the sheer hassle of having to wait for an email to arrive from the customer support team, or worse, of going round and round in circles and getting steadily more and more frustrated, can push even the most loyal customer over the edge into abandonment. As long as the live chat operators have access to the website admin area, they will be able to quickly help the customer reset a password and access their account to smoothly continue with their purchase.
4. Help digital non-native customers use your website
For those of us involved in digital businesses and ecommerce we like to think that everyone these days knows how to use websites. We also assume that if customers are not quite digitally native, they are at least comfortable navigating their way around, searching and making purchases online. Yes, it is mostly true, however, there are still many people out there who are not comfortable with the internet, or with promises of security around online transactions.
As a business you will ignore these people at your peril. At Yomdel we have countless examples of people getting stuck on websites. Sometimes it is really simple things such as copy and paste, knowing how to search or filter, or even not understanding how links can take them away from a website they were on. In these situations, live chat offers a reassuring option. It is easy to use, and if the customers can type, they can communicate with the online customer support services.
Good live chat platforms allow live chat operators to co-browse with web visitors, so they can then offer a friendly guiding hand to ensure the customer can complete whatever it is they are trying to do. This really is a superb customer support opportunity that cannot be provided by any other channel.
5. Help customers in making a choice
Unlike shopping on the high street, shopping online can be a lonely pursuit. There is no-one there to offer advice, suggestions or warnings. With personalisation of the online shopping experience being so important, good live chat operators will be able to play the role of the shop assistant and knowledgeable advisor (if not, friend). People will often need reassurance, or suggestions on alternatives.
While a customer knows live chat services are provided by the retailer or the brand, they also know the live chat operators are there to help. For example, live chat on online clothing retailers will frequently handle questions around sizing, colours and stock availability. These are all marginal issues where the visitor is unlikely to use other customer support channels to find out the answers. Quick answers to these simple questions can make the difference between losing a customer and gaining a fan.
And, just to push home this point, people having a positive live chat experience are 12 times more likely to share that experience via social media such as Facebook or Twitter when compared to those that simply self serve.
About the author: Andy Soloman is the CEO of Yomdel and together with the rest of the Yomdels at Yomdelhurst he is passionate about getting live chat "just right". Why not get in touch? He does love a good natter, especially about creating successful businesses..
- Tackling shopping cart abandonment with live chat (infographic)
- Live chat functionality - 15 winning ingredients
- Three ways live chat operators can handle tough questions
- 24/7 live chat resourcing needn't be expensive
- Live Chat: Five mistakes to avoid (via eSeller)