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Live chat for contact center: 9 strategies to success

May 23, 2019
12:00 am

Traditional contact or call center support creates communication barriers between agents and customers, causing unnecessary back-and-forths. The situation is made even worse when factoring in high call volumes.

Many companies have turned to cloud-based contact center (or call center) software. The software offers features like easy call routing, callbacks, an interface that includes session records, easy integration with multiple devices, and video calls - making life easier for support agents as well as customers.

How have modern contact center solutions changed?

Contact center solutions, which were earlier designed to provide only phone support, have now switched their focus to provide omnichannel customer service.

Information integration across different channels, which improves customer experience, has become a necessity.

Some of the prominent channels used by modern contact center software to provide customer service and support are email, social media, website support, VoIP, and live chats.

Out of all of these, live chat has gained the most attention from contact center solution providers.

Why does your contact center need live chat?

Contact centers are rapidly adopting intelligent live chat software on the back of several studies showing that integrating live chat improves one-time contact resolution.

[ctt template="1" link="eKxcR" via="yes" ]According to businees2community - It takes only 42 seconds to solve problems using live chat. [/ctt]

Live chat is important in contact centers because it helps eliminate the need for complicated IVR systems.

Live chat:

  • Cuts down customer waiting time.
  • Lowers the operating cost associated with customer support.
  • Improves one-time resolution with visual engagement.
  • Interprets common customer queries and suggests solutions.
  • Reduces barriers to understanding with intelligent auto-suggestions.
  • Enables you to see and interact with customers' screens in real-time.

However, the question still arises “why should you add contact center chat to the contact center channels you already use?”.

First of all, let's look at it from a customer perspective.

According to a survey by eDigital, 73% of customers who use live chat are satisfied with their experience. This is far higher than other customer support options.

A study by the American Marketing Association found that customers are 3X more likely to convert when they've used live chat. Furthermore, the average ROI from live chat can be as high as 305%.

So if you want to attract a customer to buy your product or pay for your service, it's a no-brainer to provide great user experience on your website.

It’s clear how important live chat is -- if it’s not already on your website, now’s the right time to get it there.

Live chat strategies for a successful contact center

If live chat is absent on your website and you plan to add it, how do you go about it?

Of course, just installing live chat on your website and leaving it at that won't create the benefits you're looking for.

To get the results you truly want, follow these best practices:

1. Capture customer data before initiating a chat

Live chat is a means to an end, not the end itself. You want to answer your customer's questions now, but you also want to be able to reach them in the future.

To do this, you'll have to capture their data before beginning a chat. The data you gather will depend on what you need it for.

Do you want to call them on a later date? Ask for their name and phone number. 

Want to add them to an email sequence? Ask for their name and email address.

HDFC provides an excellent example of this. Any HDFC customers wanting to make an information request, such as account information, balance details, or loan approval process just need to click on the available option on their pre-chat form.

This provides agents with context - furthermore, by collecting personal and/or account information (i.e. full name, case number, email address, phone number, etc.) via the pre-chat survey - agents’ efficiency in addressing customer concerns is increased, while chat durations, chat hold times, and chat queue wait times are minimized.

2. Provide a unified conversational experience

Customers who have interacted with your business before want to avoid answering the same questions over and over again when they return.

When you save past conversations with them, it's easier to make sure any questions are new and relevant, improving communication.

You can achieve this by integrating your live chat software with customer relationship management (CRM) software that helps you track customer interactions.

It’s a great way to nurture your customer relationships.

The reality is, your new live chat users are potential leads. Don’t let that crucial lead data get lost in your system.

When you integrate your live chat software with your CRM, you can use important data like contact information to create new leads and contact records.

Now it’s down to your sales team to turn those leads into paying customers.

3. Think about your agents' utilization time

Even though you pay for your live chat software, don't forget you also pay your agents. It’s important to ensure your employees are productive.

To do this, track how many concurrent chats and how many overall chats your agent is handling daily. At what times are they idle?

This formula explains agent utilization time better:

These insights help you make the right decisions when it comes to your live chat agents. Do you need additional resources because of high workloads? Do agents have lots of spare time and need more tasks to do?

4. Give your contact center a brain

You can improve the live chat experience for your users by incorporating other features. Consider these activities:

i). Use of live chat on contact points

It's important visitors are able to access live chat when they need it. You could have live chat on all your web pages. But if that's impossible, then try to at least have it on your service and sales pages.

Track the pages most often visited by your audience. See who is browsing your website or app, and approach them in the right way.

ii). Use of cobrowsing to provide real-time assistance

Cobrowsing allows your agents to see the screens your customers are seeing. This comes in handy when your customers are struggling to find a particular part of your website.

It’s also very helpful if you run a software platform and customers need to see how to carry out certain tasks.

ROBIN, an ecommerce customer service company for retail brands, relied on cobrowsing to reduce call/chat handling time by up to 50% and deliver a significant ROI for the company.

Cobrowsing is exceptionally helpful for industries with complicated support and service procedures. Take for example ICICI -  ICICI succeeded in decreasing average operating times by 50% thanks to their adoption of cobrowsing technology.

All that customers have to do is provide a 6-digit access code on the phone and agents are able to access secure online documentation with the cobrowsing feature - helping them to fill out a potentially tedious form in just a few clicks.

iii). Use of AI-assisted chatbots to address routine queries

Over time, you'll notice that your customers frequently ask some of the same questions. You can program your AI-assisted chatbots to answer these questions when customers ask them.

That way, you'll only need your agents when customers ask more unique and complex questions.

In summary, these AI-assisted chatbots can address routine queries by:

  • Replacing IVR processes.
  • Improving self-service.
  • Ensuring a more accurate call routing.
  • Delivering fast customer service.
  • Enhancing personalization.

5. Help your agents to do their best

You need to train your employees to get the best out of them. Live chat agents are no different.

Live chat agents need to be able to deal with customers empathetically. Robotic responses may push your customers away by failing to address their specific problems.

It’s particularly important that your live chat agents are comfortable using your live chat software. On top of that, they need communication skills training to make sure they get their messages across properly to your customers.

6. Identify common customer service Problems

What common issues do your agents face when providing live chat services?

To get this information, you'll have to ask your live chat agents. Some common problems that your customer service may encounter are:

  • Having to transfer a customer to another agent.
  • Angry customers who just want to vent rather than ask a question.
  • Customers asking for solutions customer service agents can't provide.
  • Lack of tools to solve customers' problems.
  • Questions that customer service agents have no answer to.

Keep in mind that 56% of people have stopped doing business with a company because of poor customer service, according to Microsoft.

When you're aware of these problems, you can implement a system to help deal with them as they occur.

7. Program your live chat inline with your contact center workflow

Companies are always looking for the best ways to engage with their customers. In one study Acquire, a live chat solutions provider, found that live chat is a unique way to answer customers’ questions and quickly satisfy their needs.

At different stages of the customer journey, they face different issues. And in some cases, they may be asking questions that are specific to their past interactions with your business.

For instance, if customers ask about the status of their product delivery, customer service agents may not have access to this information. There are two ways to go about this:

  • Use a customer relationship management software that will allow your customer service agents access to customers’ past interactions with your business.
  • Use a sequence-based bot that will route chats to the right departments depending on the stage of buyers’ journeys and the information they require. For example, if a user is on, then send the following message

Do you have any questions about pricing?

Next, route chats to your sales team. Use rules to redirect qualified customers to the appropriate sales reps, who will, in turn, answer their questions and close requests faster than before.

8. Maintain chat transcripts

Live chat transcripts are incredibly useful for improving your customer service. There are many benefits to tracking all your customer interactions.

You can use your transcripts to extrapolate frequently asked questions and use successful chat agents’ responses for auto-responses in the future.

Do you have a blog? Chat transcripts also provide ideas for topics to address in knowledge base articles.

Despite all this, unfortunately, most companies don’t keep transcripts, with Superoffice finding that 55% of companies fail to keep transcripts once a chat has ended.

Here is an example of a live chat transcript below: :

Here is another example:

Note: Chat transcripts are important because customers can revert back to them to learn more about your solutions.

9. Monitor contact center ROI using key metrics

If you have live chat on your website, you’ll likely need to justify the money spent with a positive return on investment (ROI). Some metrics to consider are:

i). Metrics for end users

What effect does live chat have on your customers? How many customers go on to buy after a live chat? Do they ask the same questions again?

ii). Metrics for agents

Gather important data, like the number of customers your agents are attending to, and the time they spend attending to them.

It’s extremely useful to collect customer feedback after a live chat session. This indicates how effectively customer service agents are performing their duties.

Some good metrics to track are:

  • Service level.
  • Average time in queue.
  • Number of chats handled.
  • Average handle time.
  • Average number of chats.
  • Abandon rates.
  • First call resolution.

These metrics provide hard evidence of how live chat is impacting your customers and revenue and give clues as to any necessary changes to your live chat strategy.

Follow the best practices listed above to get the most out of live chat.


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