Live chat support is one of the best ways to improve customer engagement. Properly managed, this feature can give you substantial and sustainable increases in conversion rates and overall customer satisfaction.
However, there are many mistakes that companies make with live chat support – mistakes that can be avoided. You must do more than simply have live chat available for your customers. Here are the most important things to consider before you go live with live chat.
You lose all of the benefits of live chat if you require your end-user to move heaven and earth just to talk to you. First of all, requiring software downloads or huge information grabs of your end-user before chatting is not industry standard. Your competitors who are successfully implementing live chat do not do these things - you are better off leaving live chat alone if you put your customers to work just to use it.
First of all, leave the huge information grabs for the chat. If you ask for too much, your prospect may disengage before he ever asks his first question. Get just enough to identify the person in front of you. She will give you the rest during the conversation!
Even worse is when you require your prospect to install something on his side. Your user is likely calling to get a technical problem solved, and you are giving him more problems!
It is much easier to get information when you are providing value in return. Wait until you have engaged the customer in the chat before you begin asking too many questions. Keep in mind that your customer is getting in touch with you to ask a question, not the other way around!
Not all of your customer engagement needs to be completely personalized. There is a place for chatbots, and properly used, your customers will not even know the difference. However, the overuse of automation is a temptation that you will have to avoid.
Surprisingly, most companies do not engage in automation to save money. Many companies actually think that customer responses can be controlled if only a few conversational options are offered. Although this may work for basic questions, you will eventually come to a deeper level of issues that canned responses cannot answer.
The same applies for templates. No matter how many scripts a robot comes up with from a template, the technology is just not good enough to replace a good customer service rep.
Separate the simple questions that can be answered by robots into a separate pile, far away from the deeper issues that need a human touch. If you are on a budget, consider you do not necessarily need more manpower. You need better customer service representatives with more experience and the ability to think on their feet.
However, the overuse of automation is a temptation that you will have to avoid. Customers are already sick of generic IVR systems that force them to choose from a list of options
One of the biggest customer pet peeves is the lack of available customer support during emergencies. Although the tip above suggested that you do not need to hire an overload of support, you do need to have an adequate number of highly skilled, properly trained customer representatives ready to go. The number of these representatives is not as important as the talent and training they have.
The process of customer engagement usually begins with the end-user opening a ticket. If that customer runs into a message that displays your inability to provide service in a timely manner, you may have just lost a customer. More than this, you may have just inspired a negative review on Yelp, which will eventually find its way to Google.
Take the time to find the right people to populate your customer service department. Before you find this group, do not publicize 24/7 customer service or live chat as a feature of your company. Make the investment in customer service representative training when you have found the people with the proper expertise and phone demeanor.
You should try to operate your live chat 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If this is impossible for you, you must choose the times that you cover. There is no need to guess about peak times – there is plenty of data on the business hours that receive the highest number of customer service calls in general. However, the peak times that you should be worried about or peak times for your business individually.
Considering peak times also means understanding how things like holidays and natural disasters affect peak hours. Your industry may also experience changes in the way that customers choose to engage. You must keep your ear to the street in order to keep up with the way that your industry moves.
Gather the data that you need to understand the peak hours of your business. Consider the geographic location of the majority of your customers as well. Schedule your customer service representatives to handle calls during that time if you are unable to take on a 24/7 schedule. As you continue to gather data, you will eventually be able to predict when the majority of customers will call in.
These are the customer service hours that you should publicize. Once you set the expectation for your customer service hours, you will run into much less disappointment from clients.
Note: This is a guest post written by Reuben Yonatan. Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.
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