4 Tips for Building Customer Loyalty Through Chat

Live chat impacts customer loyalty whether it’s good or bad – so train your team to provide the best chat experience.

Live chat impacts customer loyalty whether it’s good or bad – so train your team to provide the best chat experience.
Live chat impacts customer loyalty whether it’s good or bad – so train your team to provide the best chat experience.

It’s no secret that retaining existing customers is good for the bottom line. Just look at the numbers. In detailed research looking into the lifecycle of customers, Bain & Co. found that increasing customer retention by five percent has the potential to increase a company’s profitability by nearly 75%. Additionally, Gartner has found that nearly 80% of a company’s future revenue is generated by 20% of existing customers. How can your company ensure customer retention? By offering them customer service and experiences that gives them reason to stick with your brand or product. One easy way to keep customers returning to you is by offering live chat, a preferred communication channel for many, particularly the Millennial generation.

Live chat agents are often on the front line of customer service delivery and training around best chat experiences is paramount to get the most out of this service. Customers expect quick answers, a personalized tone, and product or service expertise so they feel confident in moving ahead with a sale. Here are four tips for maximizing your live chat training efforts to deliver the best chat experience.

  1. Around the clock service. That’s right, if you want to satisfy your customers, you need to make sure they can reach you when it’s most convenient for them. Customers don’t limit their shopping or browsing to a 9-to-5 schedule, so why should your customer support be limited to banker’s hours.
  2. Give live chat agents a 360 degree view. When agents can put themselves in their customer’s shoes, they are better prepared to deliver service that is effective, personalized and targeted to the needs of the customer. In addition to understanding the customer, it’s crucial that agents are well trained on how to use all the features of your live help software. Customers who communicate through live chat are looking for expedited help and service and don’t want to be left hanging while an agent is stumbling because they aren’t well trained on the infrastructure.
  3. Don’t overlook the importance of writing skills. Knowing how to impart the correct tone, grammar and voice when working with live chat doesn’t come automatically, so training around proper communication techniques is essential. Without the cues of voice inflections or eye contact, it’s really easy for a written conversation to be misinterpreted which is why training live chat agents is different than training phone agents.
  4. Be the expert. Customers are contacting live chat agents because the information they are seeking to make a decision about a purchase is not otherwise readily available. Ensuring that your live chat agents are knowledgeable about your products and services allows them to confidently interact with the customer and guide him or her to the best outcome.

Customer loyalty is built on repeated, positive interactions with your brand or product. It doesn’t happen overnight and it requires consistency. The good news is that customers aren’t expecting a song-and-dance every time they interact with your company, they simply want their needs met in the most accurate, timely and economical way. They don’t have patience for long-winded, canned messages or pushy sales tactics. If live chat training incorporates some of the tips mentioned above, there’s a good chance that your customers who’ve contacted you through live chat will be returning to your website. The good news for companies that offer live chat is that customers are more likely to return and if they encounter consistently good service they’ll remain loyal over the long run. There’s no easier way to boost your company’s bottom line than developing long term relationships with your loyal customers.

Click to Chat: Live Chat Goes Tag Team

Including a click to chat feature on your website empowers your site visitors to “tag out” your website and “tag in” your customer service team, self-selecting when they need you to provide immediate assistance and information beyond what your current website content covers.

Including a click to chat feature on your website empowers your site visitors to “tag out” your website and “tag in” your customer service team, self-selecting when they need you to provide immediate assistance and information beyond what your current website content covers.

One approach to deploying live chat on your website is through click to chat functionality.
Click to chat allows site visitors to shift between engaging your staff via live chat and engaging your website content.

(What do I mean by “website content”? Website content is basically any information or media you provide on your website, most often descriptive text but it can come in visual and audio formats as well).

The Hardy Boyz (see image) are probably not the best model to aspire to from a business perspective, but what they did well you can do well, too.

Except fighting on ladders – live chat probably can’t help you do that well.

Why Click to Chat Works

As mentioned above, click to chat puts your customers in charge of when they want help – this makes things easy and convenient for both them and for you (namely for your customer service team). But it goes beyond that.

Click to chat is great for business for four other important reasons:
1) Customer Experience
It drives positive customer experience by providing the memorable satisfaction of an immediate response to a one-click request for assistance
2) Efficiency
It improves efficiency by saving your team time from engaging with customers who are not ready for it (read more about unsolicited engagement below)
3) Channel Optimization
It provides you valuable information about what types of questions and concerns are likely best addressed through live chat rather than through content on your website, and vice versa
4) Website Optimization
It also provides you valuable information about what information is unclear or hard to find on your website, as customers will usually note over the course of their live chat conversation that they tried to find/understand the answer they were looking for on your website but could not

You can improve both conversion rates and customer experience by using this information gathered through click to chat activity to revise the content on your website and to revise the pre-made messages your live chat agents have at their fingertips.

Click to chat (in and of itself) is NOT great for two reasons:
1) Unsolicited engagement can be a good thing
Sometimes site visitors need the nudge of a proactive chat, and would view that as helpful rather than disruptive, even if they didn’t think they needed or wanted to engage your customer service team initially
2) Poor execution
If you do not optimize the design and placement of your click to chat button, live chat will almost certainly go underutilized as it will be unnoticed or unappealing, and customers will leave your website frustrated that they were not able to get the answers they were looking for

This does not mean that click to chat is a bad idea – only that there are additional considerations you’ll want to account for when implementing live chat software with click to chat functionality.

Getting Back to the Live Chat Tag Team

Having followed through on the click to chat, one of your customer service agents will then either provide your site visitor with the answers they need immediately or will direct the visitor to a relevant page where the site visitor can find the information they came to your website in search of.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Your customer service agent can even launch the page for the visitor directly, if that’s more convenient than giving directions for how to get to the relevant page and/or providing a link to the page.

At this point, your agent sits on the other side of the “ropes”, lets the customer engage the website for a bit, and waits to get tagged back in. Best practice for customer service agents here is to actively prompt the customer once or twice to determine whether the assistance provided was sufficient and whether or not the customer has further questions (tagging the agent back in).

 

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While it’s important to speed things along, be careful your agents aren’t coming on too strong when they resume helping a customer.

 

A Final Note About Click to Chat as Live Chat Tag Team

This article is intended as a tongue-in-cheek look at how utilizing click to chat on your website creates a flexible second channel for communication and engagement with your customers and potential customers. Your site visitor and/or your customer service agent can swap between these channels, as suits the visitor’s needs, without ever fully leaving either channel.

Click to chat makes it easier for the customer by providing resources (website) and a guide to those resources (live chat). Click to chat makes it easier for the customer service agent by providing external tools they can use and direct the customer to (website), rather than bearing the full burden of supplying all of the information themselves.

There’s a lot more value you can derive from the joint efforts of website content and live chat.

For instance, Velaro Live Chat provides your customer service agents with visibility into what pages your site visitor views while engaged in a live chat session. Though the visitor is choosing to engage your website rather than your customer service agent, your agent is not oblivious to what it is your potential customer is looking for and can use that information to re-engage them with the best approach.

Click here to tag one of our own customer service agents in and inquire about what else Velaro Live Chat can do for your business by teaming up with your website.

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Images taken from Wikimedia Commons

Bringing Live Chat Integration to Ecommerce Product Pages

Ecommerce live chat can help motivate prospects to take the last steps towards becoming customers.

Live chat integration for ecommerce allows you to engage customers across their buyer’s journey in your online store, from research on your site to checkout pages.

Good product pages can make the difference between effective ecommerce live chat and not.
Ecommerce live chat can help motivate prospects to take the last steps towards becoming customers.

But how much work should your live chat agents be doing to make a sale vs. how much work should your site be doing?

This boils down to one key question: When customers view product pages on your ecommerce site, do the pages motivate them to add items to their cart?

If not, you will probably need to invest more in intelligent, personable live chat agents to pick up the slack, or risk losing droves of potential customers who show up and then quickly leave, unimpressed. Or worse, potential customers might not even visit your site at all – if your product pages are not optimized to attract relevant search engine traffic, you might not even have droves to turn away.

Ecommerce live chat is at its most effective when it is used as the tipping point that pushes an already interested prospect that vital step forward to purchasing, rather than as a last ditch effort to drag a sale from “I’m not interested in this and am about to leave this site” to the point of purchase.

So how do you create compelling product pages for your ecommerce business that draw site visitors to your site and bring them to that tipping point so that your live chat agents can make a purchase happen?

Great Product Pages as a Foundation for Successful Ecommerce Live Chat

Practical Ecommerce put together some great points (with visual examples) in their recent article “7 Product Detail Page Differentiators for 2015.” You’ll probably learn something valuable by reading the full article, but in short it covers media (e.g. images and video), consumer-created content, and logistical concerns like return policies, shipping and customer support.

If you’re still not convinced as to the why this matters to you, check out the aptly titled: “Is Regurgitated Ecommerce Content Throttling Your Profit Potential?” You may also want to read “Why Optimising your Product Data is Essential to your Ecommerce Strategy” (though in brief it pertains to a few key aspects of your product data feeds, namely metadata/SEO, analytics, responsive design, and for some industries real-time updates).

The three key elements to a successful product page are: engagement, convenience and credibility, in that order.

Engagement is the first priority – if you can’t get a potential customer’s attention, it doesn’t matter how easy it is for them to order. This could take the form of snappy copy, captivating images or video, or a promotion they just can’t ignore.

Some might argue that you need to establish credibility before convenience is relevant, however in the current ecommerce environment, there are simply too many other options too readily accessible for you to risk losing potential customers to any roadblocks, real or perceived, in the discover -> consider -> purchase process.

This is the phase at which ecommerce live chat is most relevant. When customers get confused or have a question that suddenly makes the process less convenient than it has to be, live chat can easily re-engage them and shepherd them along to the point of purchase.

Just like convenience is more about mitigating inconvenience, credibility is more about dispelling doubts. You don’t need overwhelming positive affirmation that you’re the best, you just need enough affirmations that you are reliable that the potential customer feels comfortable giving you their credit card information and expecting to receive what they ordered according to the timetable provided.

Ecommerce live chat is valuable for credibility purposes as well, assuming your chat agents are well-trained. Poor grammar and scripts can actually compound an already problematic credibility issue, but articulate, helpful staff can re-assure customers about the accuracy of the information on your site and about your trustworthiness as a vendor.

All three of these elements (engagement, convenience, and credibility) are important to the first purchase and to a long future of repeat purchases. By setting up a live chat integration with your ecommerce platform, you can capitalize on product pages that incorporate these three elements to help push prospects that last step and make them your customers rather than someone else’s.

Please Get With the Times – With Real Time Chat or Otherwise – A Sincere Plea, on Behalf of Your Customers

While phone and email support are better than nothing, more advanced communications like real time chat serve your customers best and are what they recognize as their own level of professionalism.

While phone and email support are better than nothing, more advanced communications like real time chat serve your customers best and are what they recognize as their own level of professionalism.
While phone and email support are better than nothing, more advanced communications like real time chat serve your customers best and are what they recognize as their own level of professionalism.

Last week, Chris Childers made a statement that resonated with the customer service sector: “organizations can no longer limit their customers to telephone and email communication only.” Expanded communications options might include social media, SMS messaging (texting), self-service, and/orreal time chat.

Regardless, the customer side of customer service has inexorably shifted from a mentality that accepts the communications equivalent to “cash only” establishments to one that expects to be able to engage their providers with more current technology. Being proudly responsive to phone and email inquiries only is the equivalent of taking pride in how quickly you can make change for cash transactions but refusing to accept credit cards in the age of online commerce. This is inconvenient to your customers in the first place and makes your company look out of touch in the second place, both of which are bad for business.

Why Should I Believe You, Business Chat Software Blog?

I understand there’s some measure of cynicism with which you must approach a real time chat blog like this, but I hope my emphasis on the fact that a change needs to be made rather than on the specific investment I would normally advocate for (business chat software) helps break past that skepticism. Whether you use real time chat software or not is secondary to whether you do something about your imminent customer service problem.

It’s not the next generation of customers, it’s the current generation of customers, who are sick of dealing with companies that can’t or won’t accommodate the communication that feels most natural and convenient to them.

A survey conducted by the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) revealed that a staggering 93% of customers feel that even if their customer service agent provided good service, they would be substantially happier if they had received assistance through their preferred channel. Imagine if the service was less than great!

These customers are going to switch to companies that understand and cater to their preferences, responding within minutes via tweet or text, or within seconds via real time chat.

I understand there are severe operational constraints some companies are operating within, and the belt just continues to be tightened. It’s hard to keep customer satisfaction high when you don’t have the budget to hire staff with the right skill sets and that is compounded by the lack of budget, time and attention you’re able to spare for training new staff.

However, customers know that there are better options out there- some are communicating this directly to the companies they are frustrated doing business with. All of this means that if your company is not addressing this right now, that your customers know that either you can’t help them or you won’t help them. And if you had to pinpoint the moment a customer decides to leave you, it’s when they come to that realization.

For your sake, and for your many customers’ respective sakes, please “get with the times” – whether that means real time chat or something else.

Why Choose Business Chat Software?

Real time chat software is not going to magically solve all of your customer service problems for you – but it is going to put you in the position to do three things well that are really important to do well:

  1. Immediately demonstrate you care about providing quality customer service, moreover that you understand what your customers’ needs are, and that you are actively taking steps to rectify the historically inadequate situation – business chat software is very easy to deploy on your website and can provide valuable intelligence about what your customers are looking for
  2. Be more efficient in engaging your customers – a fully-trained real time chat agent can engage up to four customers simultaneously without compromising the quality of service
  3. Continuously improve the quality of your customer service – live chat reporting can help you identify how you can do a better job providing an excellent customer experience, even long after your first early steps in the right direction

Your customers came to you in the first place because they believed you had *the* solution they needed- don’t let antiquated customer service practices drive them to seek out other, likely inferior, solutions that are more attractive because they are supported in a more convenient manner.