Good Customer Service Doesn’t Stop at Online Chat Software

Online chat software supports customer service, but without the right processes and strategy in place, it can only take your customer service organization so far.

Online chat software is an important component to any customer service organization that takes pride in its response time and efficiency.

Online chat software is just a piece of exceptional customer service.
Online chat software supports customer service, but without the right processes and strategy in place, it can only take your customer service organization so far.

Apart from the key metrics it supports for a customer service team, online chat software also provides a means of reaching customers in a way that’s more convenient for them: in terms of timeliness, proactivity and preferred channel. You can read more about the benefits of online chat software here, as well as here.

But good customer service doesn’t stop at online chat software. While proactive chat and click to chat software functionality can be convenient, not every customer will want to engage via live chat. Some customers may prefer a self-service channel, some may prefer hearing a human voice (i.e. using the telephone) even if it means they need to wait longer to be engaged by a support or sales representative.

Great Customer Service from Online Chat Software to Phones, Email, etc.

Ultimately, good customer service—regardless of channel—is driven by communication skills, by expertise in your company’s offerings, and by setting and managing customer expectations.
In their most recent publication, “Looking Back on 2014 Customer Service Trends & Looking Forward to 2015 Customer Service Predictions,” Impact Learning Systems covers many of these issues: self-service technology, personalization, authenticity and customer knowledge. While they do discuss online chat software as a channel for customer service, the primary focus of the e-Book is the continuing changes in customer expectations.

Some choice excerpts from the publication include:
• “Even though customers largely prefer to self-serve, that doesn’t mean companies are off the hook for providing exceptional customer service. In fact, customers value the quality of customer service over price. A survey by Vision Critical found that 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a better customer service experience, and 70% of buying experiences are based on how a customer feels when making the purchase. As more demands are placed on our time, we are hungrier for meaningful and authentic interaction and are willing to pay for it.”
• “Through researching the product and competitor products online, customers are often more product-savvy than the employees themselves, and that has profoundly changed the way customer care is delivered.”

The free e-Book (registration required) also includes 8 Self-Service Best Practices. For instance, making sure that the self-service tool is easy to find and that the tool promotes multiple channels of communication, to be more responsive to customer preferences.

While a customer service organization cannot reach peak performance without online chat software, online chat software will not get you there without the right strategy and processes in place. Give Impact Learning Systems’ e-Book a read for what other elements will help you raise the bar for your customer service team and meet that higher expectation.

Supporting Marketing with Live Chat Software: Part Three

Many, juicy opportunities can be nurtured with the right tools, teams and data in place.

Live Chat Software Generates Juicy Leads When You Utilize Proactive Chat.
Many, juicy opportunities can be nurtured with the right tools, teams and data in place.

For a more general discussion of what to look out for to make sure you will get the most out of a live chat software tool, check out: 7 Tips For Selecting a Live Chat Software Vendor.

But here’s a quicker, rougher explanation specific to marketing professionals (or aspiring marketing pros).

Previously, we’d talked about using live chat software to positively impact the customer experience and to support and strengthen brand-building and message consistency. This time, we’re going to talk about how live chat software can help generate juicy leads.

Using Live Chat Software to Generate More, Juicy Leads

While making a good impression is important, in marketing ultimately you’re going to be measured by leads generated for your sales team, both in terms of quantity and quality. If you’ve been reading closely, you saw in last week’s post about brand-building and message consistency that one lead-boosting tip is to personalize communications based on buyer profile. Another is to monitor what referral pages are driving traffic to your website. If you do not already do this kind of analysis on your website, you’re missing out on some serious conversion opportunities!

To review: live chat software can be configured with pre-written script paths that speak to different audiences. For instance, the tech or logistics person will want to hear the details of how your products work, whereas the executive will want to hear about the big-picture value of your offerings—putting the wrong message in front of either person is basically ushering them out of your online store.

Additionally, live chat software can tell you what websites or paid ads are directing specific site visitors to your site, helping inform where you should make future investments to further drive lead growth. For instance, if Ad A is bringing you the most traffic but the majority of that traffic represents low-spending visitors, you may or may not want to invest in it further—you need to be able to tell to what extent Ad A, B and/or C are bringing you your high-value prospects vs. the greatest quantity of low-spending prospects in order to allocate your marketing budget most wisely. By tracking this information, live chat software can help you build some serious momentum around high-value lead generation.

Live Chat Software Can Track Referral Traffic.
By correlating “lead source” with chat transcript, you can reliably determine where you’re getting the highest volume of leads and the highest value from your leads on your website.

 

But how else can live chat software help you with lead generation? It’s called proactive chat. When live chat is integrated with your CRM, this can create a fast-track for lead generation.

Live Chat Software Best Practices: Proactive Chat and CRM Integrations

Whereas reactive chat waits idly for your site visitor to click a button to prompt a chat session (a button they may or may not even notice), proactive chat presents that button in a central, visible spot within their web browser window (like a pop-up form on your website). You’ll want to experiment with what user behavior should automatically trigger presenting this chat button. Maybe it’s a certain amount of time spent on a single page (this could prompt a “Can I help you?” click-to-chat button), maybe it’s clicking away to another page after entering the checkout process or after reading a data sheet or case study (this could prompt a “Do you have a question?” button).

This will be irritating to some users, but with routine testing you should be able to find a good balance between generating maximum leads and providing a pleasant user experience for your site visitors. Forrester Research has estimated that leads engaging in proactive chat are 20% more likely to convert into real prospects than standard chat alone, so keep that in mind as well. You can learn more about proactive chat here.

Once you’ve determined the appropriate site visitor behavior to trigger the proactive chat, you’ll want to develop a flow in your live chat software that helps to direct prospects further down the sales funnel. The visitors still in the ‘gathering information’ phase should not be directed by your chat agents to the same page as a visitor who’s looking for information about product pricing, for instance.

When integrated with your prospect database, the captured record of the live chat software session can help inform follow up by your sales team. By looking at how the prospect responded to your chat agent, Sales can get a very clear indicator of the prospect’s level of interest and how ready they are to talk to a sales rep.

Click here to experience live chat software done well.

Supporting Marketing with Live Chat Software: Part Two

An element of personalization is important in customer interactions, but consistency in brand and message is crucial!

Use Live Chat Software to Strengthen Your Brand and Ensure a Consistent Message
An element of personalization is important in customer interactions, but consistency in brand and message is crucial!

For a more general discussion of what to look out for to make sure you will get the most out of a live chat software tool, check out: 7 Tips For Selecting a Live Chat Software Vendor.

But here’s a quicker, rougher explanation specific to marketing professionals (or aspiring marketing pros).

Last time we talked about using live chat software to positively impact the customer experience. This time, we’re going to talk about Brand-Building and Message Consistency. Check back in in a week or two for the final installment, in which we’ll talk about how live chat software can help generate juicy leads.

Ensuring a Consistent Message and Strong Brand with Live Chat Software

Once you’ve developed your message, there are really only two components to ensuring effective, consistent messaging:
1) Implementing and overseeing the delivery of your message, to ensure all channels are communicating it appropriately and consistently (this is a bigger job than it sounds, especially as branding needs to accompany these communications)
2) Keeping your eyes and ears open for more potent words and messages, so you can always be on the top of your marketing game

As a pretty basic function, live chat software can easily incorporate your company’s “look and feel” into the initial call to action (e.g. the “Click to Chat Now” pop-up/button) and in the design of the ongoing communication panel in which conversations occur, ensuring branding accompanies your communications. But how can it ensure all channels are communicating your message appropriately and consistently?

The more advanced functionality you should look for in your live chat software solution will include the ability to:
• personalize communications based on buyer profile (e.g. is this a tech guy or an executive?)
• more easily train agents who will be using the tool (probably Marketing or Sales staff)
• monitor agent utilization (“Are staff using it?”) and
• monitor agent adherence to messaging guidelines (“Are they saying what they need to say, in the way they need to say it?”)

This may sound like oversight overkill, but as any experienced marketer knows, without periodic check-ins on how the messaging train is rolling, by the time you learn something may be amiss, you could find it derailed far off the tracks.

Finally, to ensure you’re always two steps ahead of your competition, your live chat software should provide you feedback on what it is that prospects are looking for when they come to your website, and that feedback should inform long-term strategy.

By integrating with your CRM, live chat can capture data such as referring page. By paying attention to captured pieces of information, you can be sure to use the right wording in your promotional channels, invest in the most effective promotional channels and optimize your own website layout based on what page people arrive at, what page they’re looking for and what page they didn’t know they were looking for but do in fact want.
To review: live chat software designed to support and strengthen your message should be able to include your branding in all communications, support your message and your maintenance of that message, and strengthen your message with data.

By keeping these considerations in mind when choosing your live chat software solution, you’ll be getting the most out of your investment.

Click here to experience live chat software done well.

Supporting Marketing with Live Chat Software: Part One

Savvy marketers understand each experience of interacting with your company has an impact on customers and prospects, and that this can be a positive or negative impact (though hopefully it’s positive every time!).

Use Live Chat Software to Prevent Customer Abandonment
Poor marketing and/or customer service communicates to your customers: we don’t care about you, we don’t understand your business and ultimately we are not going to adequately support you!

For a more general discussion of what to look out for, to ensure you will get the most out of a live chat software tool, check out: 7 Tips For Selecting a Live Chat Software Vendor.

But here’s a quicker, rougher explanation specific to marketing professionals (or aspiring marketing pros).

Supporting Marketing with Live Chat Software

Savvy marketers understand each experience of interacting with your company has an impact on customers and prospects, and that this can be a positive or negative impact (though hopefully it’s positive every time!). You also understand the importance of consistency in your messaging. Finally, while you recognize that brand-building is important, ultimately you’re going to be measured by leads generated for your sales team, both in terms of quantity and quality. In short, we’ll call these key items: Customer Experience, Brand/Message Consistency, and Juicy Leads. This time, we’ll only cover Customer Experience, but “stay tuned” for Parts Two and Three in coming weeks.

How Live Chat Software Impacts Customer Experience

Live chat software is more than just an additional way to generate leads (though we’ll certainly get to that too), it also provides the opportunity to increase customer satisfaction by reducing wait times for assistance, by personalizing interactions with customers and prospects to ensure you’re giving them what they want in a language they can understand, and to systemically gather information about what prospects are coming to your site to find. Prospects want to tell you what it is they are looking for; the right live chat software can help them and help you by streamlining how that communication gets handled and ultimately how it gets captured and reported to help you improve future interactions.

We’ve all experienced long wait times, pre-programmed menu options that either don’t make sense or flat-out just don’t offer what it is we’re looking for, and representatives who fall short of helpful. This is a marketing nightmare! This communicates to your customers: we don’t care about you, we don’t understand your business and ultimately we’re not going to adequately support you!

You can learn more about how to avoid conveying the wrong impression in this e-book: How to Enhance Customer Experiences and Increase Company Revenues with Proactive Chat.

As you’re considering a live chat software solution, think about how it can best equip your organization to communicate your expertise and responsiveness to current and would-be customers. Otherwise, you risk creating a negative customer experience every time!

Click here to experience live chat software done well.