The way customers interact with businesses has seen a dramatic shift in the past few years.
It’s why contact channels like live chat have become a must-have for digital customer service.
In fact, more than half of today’s consumers would rather use live chat than call a phone line for support.
That being said, while implementing live chat is fairly simple, delivering exceptional live chat customer service requires careful planning and effort.
Fortunately, we’ve put together a guide to help businesses ensure that their live chat experience lives up to customer expectations.
- Why do customers favor live chat?
- What are the advantages of live chat customer service?
- How to provide premium live chat customer service
- How to get started with live chat customer service
Why do customers favor live chat support?
Live chat has become a favorite engagement channel for a reason - because it aligns with the behaviors and preferences of the modern consumer.
With live chat, customers can access immediate, real-time, text-based support via their smartphones or other devices.
This is quicker, easier, and far more convenient than sitting in a phone queue or waiting for a reply to an email.
It also mirrors how today’s consumers interact with their peers on a daily basis.
Think about how often you communicate with your friends and family via texts, messaging apps, or social media, compared to how often you email them or make a phone call.
Of course, this might not be true of all demographics. The older generation, for example, may prefer more traditional communication channels.
But if you want to stay relevant in the eyes of Gen Z, Millennials, and even Gen X, you need to cater to their preferences.
Live chat achieves this by combining the familiarity and convenience of technology with a humanized digital customer experience.
What are the advantages of live chat customer service?
There are many advantages to gain by adding live chat to your customer service strategy.
Let’s explore the key benefits in turn.
The ability to chat with customers in real-time results in faster and more efficient problem-solving.
This is especially true for queries that require multiple, back-and-forth exchanges. It’s why live chat interactions are 13x faster at reaching a resolution than email chains.
Not only that but the chance of a First Contact Resolution (FCR) for a live chat is between 70-75%.
Fast resolutions are important because they’re fundamental to providing a positive customer experience.
If you keep customers waiting, they’re likely to become frustrated and may even abandon your brand for a competitor. You’ll also run the risk of gaining a reputation for poor customer service.
Live chat contributes to increased revenue in several ways.
Firstly, it increases sales by enabling agents to guide customers through your website and help them overcome any doubts by answering their queries.
It’s why website visitors who engage in live chat are 2.8x more likely to convert than those who don’t.
Secondly, it creates more opportunities for upsells and product recommendations resulting in higher-value online conversions.
In fact, research has shown there to be a 10% increase in the average order value when customers use live chat before making a purchase.
And thirdly, live chat is a fantastic tool for lead generation which creates more customers and potential sales.
One of the great things about live chat is that it’s a cost-effective customer service solution.
In fact, it can be up to 50% cheaper than providing traditional phone system support.
This is because it increases productivity. One live chat agent can handle multiple customer conversations at a time - a feat that simply isn’t possible with phone calls.
Many chat solutions also come with a number of time-saving features, such as canned responses, that improve speed and efficiency.
The combination of improved productivity, increased efficiency, and lower operational costs makes live chat a worthy and money-saving investment.
Thanks to live chat, customers can easily connect with your brand via your website, app, or messaging channels.
It means they can access support and answers to their queries with minimum disruption to their digital journey.
This minimizes the effort required on their part and creates the seamless customer experience that consumers crave.
It’s no surprise that around 73% of consumers consider live chat the most convenient way to contact a business.
Reduced cart abandonment
Cart abandonment occurs when a customer adds items to their online shopping cart but doesn’t complete the purchase.
This can happen for a number of reasons, such as the customer getting distracted, not being able to find what they're looking for, or encountering difficulties with the purchasing process.
Live chat can help reduce cart abandonment by keeping customers engaged with your website and providing them with instant assistance as they shop.
It’s vital that you provide this, as 57% of customers will abandon a shopping cart if they can’t get their questions answered quickly.
By being available to answer queries, provide guidance, and help with any problems, you can keep customers on track to completing their purchases.
How to deliver premium live chat customer service: Top tips
It’s undeniable that live chat is a valuable tool for supporting customers and increasing online sales.
That being said, you can only fully reap the rewards of live chat customer service when it’s performed well.
Next up, we’ll provide our top tips to help you succeed in your live chat endeavors.
1. Offer multiple chat touchpoints
Having live chat on your business website is a great start - but it’s best practice to offer a variety of chat touchpoints.
By doing this, you’ll make it effortless for customers to reach you and they can do so using their favorite channel.
It means you can meet customers where they are and provide personalized service at every step of their journey.
You’ll also be able to widen your scope of reach and digitally engage more customers than ever before.
2. Get proactive
Live chat customer service can be reactive or proactive.
Reactive support occurs when you wait for the customer to reach out and ask for assistance.
Proactive service involves initiating contact with the customer first and seeking to resolve issues before they even occur.
It’s common for businesses to focus on the reactive side and neglect proactive practices - but this is an unfortunate customer service mistake.
If you want to provide the ultimate chat experience, you need to place equal importance on both reactive and proactive service.
You can take proactive live chat to the next level by:
- Implementing chat nudges - Nudges are an engagement tool that appear as pop-ups when a visitor has spent a certain amount of time on a website page. They provide a friendly and proactive greeting while also letting your customers know that you’re there for them and readily available to help.
- Mapping customer journeys - Customer journey mapping allows you to view the pages a customer has visited and how long they’ve spent on them. Agents can then use this information to start a proactive chat in circumstances where it’s most likely to be productive (e.g. if a customer has been on a product page for an extended period of time, you might ask if they need any further information about the product or purchasing process).
- Customizing your chat widget - When you’re initiating interactions with customers, you need to ensure that your live chat widget is visually appealing, engaging, and on-brand. If it fails in these areas, you’re unlikely to capture customer attention or get a reply. To avoid this problem, you can utilize Talkative’s no-code widget designer to create a fully customized chat window that aligns with your branding.
Proactive customer service is crucial because it elevates the customer experience and makes customers feel valued. It's why 48% of consumers favor businesses that provide proactive chat support.
3. Utilize customer sentiment
Understanding customer sentiment is critical because it indicates whether your customers are happy with their live chat service experience.
You can use customer sentiment during chat interactions to analyze what your agents are doing well and where they’re falling short.
With Talkative, you can get the most out of this valuable resource through enhanced sentiment analysis capabilities.
This feature enables you to harvest data on customer sentiment from every live chat conversation, giving you a deeper insight into customer perceptions and attitudes.
You’ll also be able to track the sentiment of your agents’ messages, so you can ensure that they’re always communicating appropriately and providing excellent service.
4. Choose a multilingual chat solution
If you want to succeed at live chat customer service, you need to make it accessible to all your customers - whatever language they speak.
To achieve this, it’s vital that you invest in a chat solution that comes with multilingual technology as standard.
Talkative’s live chat, for example, provides automatic, real-time translation into over a hundred languages as well as editable glossaries.
By choosing a multilingual live chat, you’ll overcome language barriers and be able to provide quality support to consumers around the world.
Plus, you’ll demonstrate a willingness to cater to customer needs and a commitment to customer relations.
5. Allow escalation to other channels
It’s important to note that live chat alone is not the ideal approach for every customer interaction.
Sometimes, a complex query will require in-depth guidance or a more consultative approach to customer service.
In these instances, your agents need to go beyond live chat and escalate to the most suitable channel.
For example, in cases where a lot of information needs to be exchanged, it might be better to transition to a web call or video chat. This will make communication far more efficient and will also facilitate a more personalized experience.
On the other hand, if a customer’s issue is simply difficulty navigating your website, the addition of hands-on guidance via cobrowsing might be more appropriate.
Whatever the situation, it’s imperative that any escalation is smooth and effortless to ensure that your customers receive a seamless and truly omnichannel experience.
6. Deploy a virtual agent
Deploying an AI virtual agent is a great way to streamline and optimize live chat customer service.
Virtual agents and chatbots augment the human experience by providing automated support to customers around the clock.
They can be deployed on your website, app, and messaging channels to handle FAQs and basic problems without intervention. In fact, it’s estimated that chatbots resolve customer issues around 69% of the time.
Virtual agents can also triage all chat support requests. That way, they gather the initial details of the customer’s query before transferring them to the most appropriate advisor/department.
This not only saves time for your agents but also guarantees that your customers receive the best service for their specific situation - without having to repeat themselves to multiple representatives.
With an AI virtual assistant handling basic tasks and common questions, your live chat teams will be left with more time to dedicate to the customers who need them most.
This reduced demand on your agents will lead to decreased wait times, a faster average response time, and higher quality chat support across the board.
7. Empower your live chat agents
Delivering superior chat support starts with empowering your live chat agents.
After all, how can you expect them to excel at live chat customer service if they’re not equipped with the knowledge and confidence to do so?
And, as 74% of contact center agents are currently at risk of burnout, there’s certainly room for improvement in this area.
You can empower your live chat teams with thorough training and by creating a supportive and positive work environment.
With this in mind, you should aim to do the following:
- Dedicate time to making your agents experts in your industry, your business, and the products/services you provide.
- Create a comprehensive internal knowledge base for employees to refer to during interactions.
- Provide specific training for using live chat, navigating chat conversations, and dealing with rude customers. Continue to offer updated training and refresher courses as agents progress.
- Teach your agents effective time management, multitasking, case prioritization, and advanced communication skills.
- Manage work distribution effectively to ensure agents aren’t overburdened.
- Introduce work flexibility and actively encourage a healthy work-life balance.
By following these practices, you’ll create a workplace where your live chat advisors can thrive and provide customers with next-level experiences and support.
8. Monitor performance
It’s important that you don’t become complacent with your live chat customer service - and that’s where performance management comes in.
Monitoring your live chat performance and continuously striving to improve is essential for long-term success.
You can achieve this by tracking the right performance metrics and KPIs, including:
- First Response Time
- Average Response Time
- First Contact Resolution Rate
- Average Resolution Time
- Average Wait Time
- Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)
- Conversion Rate
- Total number of chats
- Number of abandoned chats
This data will allow you to assess your overall performance and identify any areas you need to improve upon.
You should also actively collect customer feedback on your live chat services and use this valuable resource to inform your goals and strategy.
1. How does live chat support cater to customers with accessibility needs, such as those who may have visual impairments or those communicating in a second language?
Live chat support ensures inclusivity for customers with accessibility needs through various features such as screen reader compatibility, keyboard navigation support, and real-time translation for multilingual customers. Additionally, some platforms may offer customisable chat interfaces to accommodate different visual preferences. It's essential for businesses to ensure that their live chat systems comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines - just like the Talkative solution does.
2. Are there any potential drawbacks or challenges associated with implementing live chat customer service that businesses should be aware of?
While live chat customer service offers numerous benefits, such as faster issue resolution and increased sales opportunities, there are potential challenges businesses may face. These challenges could include managing high chat volumes during peak times (although this can be mitigated with an AI chatbot), ensuring consistent quality of service across all interactions, and training agents to effectively handle a wide range of customer inquiries. Additionally, businesses must carefully balance automation with human interaction to maintain a personalised and satisfactory customer experience.
3. How does the effectiveness of live chat support compare across different industries or types of businesses?
The effectiveness of live chat support can vary depending on factors such as industry, business model, and customer demographics. For example, industries with complex products or services may find it more challenging to address customer inquiries solely through live chat (these brands may also need to use other channels like video chat), whereas industries with simpler offerings may see higher success rates. Additionally, businesses that target younger demographics who are more accustomed to digital communication channels may benefit more from live chat compared to those catering to older consumers who prefer traditional communication methods. Understanding these nuances can help businesses tailor their live chat strategies to maximize effectiveness within their specific context.
The takeaway: Power premium live chat customer service with Talkative
Live chat customer service is an essential addition to any business or contact center – but it has to be done right.
By adhering to the tips and strategies detailed in this article, you can deliver a stand-out chat experience that delights your customers and surpasses their expectations.
But you also need the right live chat solution for your brand. One that’s specifically tailored to your needs.
That’s where Talkative comes in.
As a primary feature of our platform, Talkative’s forward-thinking live chat comes with a myriad of features to help you engage and convert more customers - from message preview to dynamic canned messages, AI agent assist, automatic translation, and much more.
It means you’ll be fully equipped to wow your high-value customers with an innovative chat experience they won’t experience elsewhere.
Want to learn more? Book a demo with us today and discover how you can power premium live chat customer service with Talkative.