Live chat - planning for success

Planning for live chat success Planning for live chat success

If you’re just beginning to consider live chat for your business you’ll no doubt be starting to think about what software to use, and then how to get the best from it.

There are many solutions to choose from, so the decision needs careful thought. Different advertised benefits and pricing structures can make the decision confusing. So, as is always the case, the best place to start is by asking yourself “why am I doing this?”

What are your goals?

Are you trying to increase your conversion rate, boost your average order value, cross sell products, or reduce contact centre costs? Perhaps you simply want to be available to your customers in the way they want you - everywhere in every way.

Maybe you are looking for all of these benefits (and many more) from your live chat solution. Real time availability delivers multiple benefits for your ecommerce business. You’ll know that. But what can it do for your customers? At Yomdel we’re passionate about this question. This is because we believe keeping your customers happy is absolutely essential, not just for competitive advantage, but for business survival.

What do customers want?

Customers - of course - come in different shapes and sizes, and they all want different things - and lots of them – so I thought it would be useful to share some insights that we discovered during the course of our research into what the typical digital customer expects. Here’s the top four 'wants' that stood out as being particularly important for us:

1. Customers want to find what they’re looking for (and right now please)

Websites that put their customers’ needs at the heart of design, content and architecture win more business. It’s that simple. But putting this into practice is not that simple. Ensuring your customers meet their needs more easily on your website than on those of your competitors requires constant improvement and innovation.

2. Customers want to “shop around”

Today's online shoppers have more choice than ever before. They are pushed for time. They’re well informed. They've read the reviews. They know exactly what they are looking for and they know how to seek out a bargain. Alternatives are never far away when you're online.

3. Customers want to interact with real people

The web is social. And with the boom in social media people are used to, and like, interacting with others online. Don’t believe me? Ask your Facebook friends.

4. Customers want real time responses

50% of digital consumers now expect an immediate response to enquiries that they make online. Why? We all need prompting from time-to-time to buy an item, or to buy extra matching items. We all need help and encouragement to close a deal. You need it, I need, and your customers need it.

Live sales and live support chat services are no longer a novelty. They have matured into serious sales and support tools. But how can you translate the above information into a coherent set of requirements from which to start planning for a live chat service that actually brings you more business from satisfied customers?

Make sure your operators know their onions

Your live chat operators need to understand your chosen chat platform inside out. They also need to be able to answer any questions your customers throw at them quickly and effectively. Product knowledge will be essential. However, you should also ensure you have robust policies in place so that when (not if) operators are asked questions they do not understand or know the answers to, you get those questions to somebody who does - and then get the answers back to your customers quickly and effectively.

Be useful

You need to be relevant. If you're planning on using proactive chat, which can significantly boost conversion rates if used correctly (but can be off-putting if not used correctly), ensure that your chosen software is capable of knowing when your customers are likely to abandon your website - for whatever reason - and then automatically present a proactive invitation to chat with an operator who can help them with any questions . Even better - choose chat software that has the capability to target different customers with messages that resonate with them. Meet their needs - don’t try to force them to meet yours.

Don’t rely too heavily on canned messages

Many chat platforms offer you the ability to use canned messages - messages that you can create, save and use in response to predicted questions - which are useful in ensuring consistency and in boosting operator productivity. But don’t overuse this capability. Be sociable. Listen to your customers and be sure that you really understand their specific needs. Be friendly. Remember your customers if you want them to remember you.

Be available

A chat window that serves up a "not available" message when a customer clicks on it helps no-one. It amounts to lost revenue for you and a broken promise to your customer. Your website never closes - so consider 24/7 operator availability. But if you can’t manage that, make sure you are available to chat at peak times.

The list of things to consider could go on and on, but the above points should provide a useful platform from which to start thinking about the detail of your live chat operation.

If you have, and would like to share, any thoughts of your own about how you can make live chat a success please do leave a comment. At Yomdel we’re passionate about what live chat can do to help businesses to increase customer satisfaction, so if you have any thoughts we’d love to hear them!