Using Live Chat, Website Design, and Staff Training to Improve Customer Experience

Customer service is a major differentiator for brands. More than 65% of customers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do in terms of good online service, and three out of five customers would try a new brand or company in order to get better service.

Customer service is a major differentiator for brands. More than 65% of customers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do in terms of good online service, and three out of five customers would try a new brand or company in order to get better service.

It is estimated that by 2020 customer service will beat out price and product as chief differentiator for customers.

Moreover, customer service is key to retention, and retention is key to profitability. 81% of customers will repeat business after a good service experience; this increases to over 90% if the experience could be described as “effortless.” It is 6-7 times more expensive to attract a new customer than retain an existing one (according to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs), and a 10% increase in customer retention can result in a 30% increase in company value.

Live chat, website design, and customer service staff training are three of the most important elements your company can focus on to effectively improve the customer service experience for your prospects and customers.

Improving Customer Service with Live Chat

Companies using Velaro Live Chat respond to site visitor requests to chat within 90 seconds on average, and resolve the request within 15 minutes. These could be sales inquiries, technical support conversations, or any other customer service request that might have prompted the invitation to chat.

This relates directly to the more than 65% of customers who think valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do, and the 60% who would try a new company to get better service. Rather than fight upstream to retain customers and to draw them away from your competitors, why not make it easy for your customers and for yourself and implement live chat to address their top priority: fast, excellent service!

There are a number of other benefits live chat can offer to improve customer service (especially ecommerce live chat and customer support), but chief among these benefits is still unparalleled responsiveness. Live chat is able to accomplish this primarily due to the fact that a single, experienced customer service rep can reliably manage four chats simultaneously.

Improving Customer Experience with Website Design

Nothing turns off a curious prospect faster than a poorly-designed website, whether it’s ugly or slow or just doesn’t make it easy to find what they think should be obvious.

This is part of the reason why more than 67% of online shopping carts are abandoned (FYI, having to create a new user account just to use your site is big subset of this 67% – 23% of shoppers will abandon their cart if creating an account is a barrier to checkout).

So what does a good website design look like? Well, if you’re in ecommerce, here’s a great explanation (with real examples) of a great checkout flow. If you’re in SaaS, you might want to look at one of these three guideline articles. And here are general tips for good website design (despite the age of the article, its principles hold true).

 

Understanding the Customer Journey Through Customer Personas

Customer personas can help you be more effective in your interactions with prospects and existing customers.

Delivering exceptional customer experiences doesn’t just happen.

Customer personas can help you be more effective in your interactions with prospects and existing customers.
Customer personas can help you be more effective in your interactions with prospects and existing customers.

It requires relevant training, seamless omni-channel experiences, attention being paid to important KPIs, but mostly, it comes down to knowing your customers and what their expectations are when interacting with your brand or product through your service channels.

While many company executives, when surveyed, agreed with such priorities, yet most admit to not really understanding who their customers are and what they expect. This is important for executives to understand because customers consistently tell pollsters that they are willing to pay more for a product (86% in a CEI survey) if it ensured a better experience, yet only 1% felt their expectations are met regarding customer experiences.

If companies want to be around for the long run, they need to catch up to where their customers are. It’s near impossible to deliver exceptional customer service without a clear understanding of who your customers are and their expectations. This isn’t to say that customers get to dictate the relationship between them and a company’s brand or product, business objectives are absolutely a part of this equation, but when customer expectations and company objectives aren’t balanced, then both parties are likely to be disappointed. Only when customer demographics are understood and considered can customer journey maps be created so that exceptional experiences can be delivered.

Homogenous is fine if you’re buying milk, but if you’re thinking of your customers this way, then creating customer personas is an exercise to consider. Bantering around such terms as “customer journey”, “customer profile”, “customer journey”, etc. makes it easy to forget that behind every customer is an actual person. Creating customer personas allow your employees, from senior management to janitors, to have a more nuanced view of who your customers are and helps bring them to life. A leading expert on buyer/customer insights, Tony Zambito, says it best, “Buyer personas are research-based archetypal (modeled) representations of who buyers are, what they are trying to accomplish, what goals drive their behavior, how they think, how they buy, and why they make buying decisions.” To break it down even further, customer personas are fictional representations based on real data that is indicative and reflective of their actual behaviors.

If creating customer personas seems like a lot of trouble to go through, think about the ramifications of not knowing who is spending their hard-earned money with you. If you don’t take time to understand your customer, your competitor will. Essentially, you can’t create a customer journey map without knowing a little something about your customer first. Customer personas are of value to a number of departments within an organization. If marketing doesn’t have an accurate idea of your customer, appropriate messages can’t be created. If contact center agents don’t have an accurate idea of your customers, they can’t respond appropriately to their needs. Research and development teams also require an accurate idea of your customers so products are created for which there is demand.

While there are a number of on-line too kits and templates for assisting in the creation of customer personas, keep in mind the saying, “garbage in, garbage out.” The data used to create personas needs to be sourced from quantitative and qualitative research. Some of the criteria when creating buyer/customer personas so they are accurate and useful include:
1. Qualitative research sourced directly from your customers should be the driver behind your buyer/customer personas.
2. Real people who make up your customer demographics should be considered when creating customer personas. You can’t create customer personas based on who you think your customer, you have to know.
3. Customer personas, if they are to be useful, should reflect the buying goals and behaviors of the customer.

Customer personas are valuable tools, especially when it comes to creating training programs for employees and developing marketing plans. Anytime you can identify the customer as a real person and not a generic entity, allows for better customer experiences to be created and delivered. More customers are demanding personalized attention from companies and have no qualms about “breaking up” with them if they don’t provide the experiences they are after. There is no time like today to assess how well your company knows its most important asset—the customer!

Benefits of Engagement: 6 Reasons Why Enterprise Live Chat is Good For Business

With the business landscape gearing towards web-based sales and e-commerce, driving traffic to websites is what most businesses are focused on.

With the business landscape gearing towards web-based sales and e-commerce, driving traffic to websites is what most businesses are focused on.

Enterprise live chat can improve customer service, customer retention and ultimately your revenue.
Enterprise live chat can improve customer service, customer retention and ultimately your revenue.

Those involved in online entrepreneurship know that driving traffic to your site is difficult, but making prospect clients stay is even harder.

You may have the best website design, your products may be the best in the market–but why are people still leaving your site after a few seconds?

You’re probably not asking them to stay.

Immediate support will keep your customers within your site. Much like a physical store, when there’s no one there to assist a customer, they will leave. The equivalent of a person welcoming you into a shop is enterprise live chat support. Customers need to feel that their needs are valued and someone can attend to them in a moment.

This is a simple and straightforward look at how live chat support enhances your business, but let’s delve deeper into the other ways your business benefits from live chat.

Reason 1 and most important: BETTER CUSTOMER SERVICE.

Business is not just selling. If you want loyal customers and keep a steady stream of clients, customer service must be the top priority for you. Neglecting their needs can cost you big money and even kill your business.

Live chat keeps customers pleased. In a 2013 survey by eConsultancy, 73 percent of respondents said they choose to talk to support through live chat over other mediums like phone, email and text. Customers hate waiting, and if we are being honest, turnaround times of email and phone support systems are not very good. They want the feeling of having someone directly addressing their concerns real-time, they want someone guiding them through their decision-making process–from scanning your offers to making the payment.

When you keep your clients pleased, you keep their business and their trust. This is how you keep long-term relationships in business–an age-old strategy of successful businesses.

Reason 2: YOU ARE ABLE TO SELL YOUR PRODUCT.

“Wait? Isn’t that what I’ve always been doing? Am I not selling my product?”

You know that displaying your product and having compelling copy is most times not enough to make a conversion. Clients go back multiple times before finally making a purchase. With enterprise live chat, your representative is not only a troubleshooter but a salesperson as well. When you are given airtime with your customer, you grab it! Live chat makes the customers come to you–a priceless asset in business. If they’re not ready to decide, a survey reported by Kissmetrics found that customers returned 63 percent more when they’re assisted by a live chat rep.

Having someone to talk to makes it easier for customers to make purchases. They feel at ease now that they’re not interacting to the cold wall of your website– they’re talking to a human being.

Enterprises that use live chat can monitor the direct benefits in chat-to-sales conversion reports which should be supplied by the software provider. These reports give you a clearer picture of live chat’s performance in terms of its role in completed shopping cart transactions. In a comprehensive comparison of various enterprise live chat software,Velaro topped the list because they provided businesses with quality conversion reports. Always choose one that provides these detailed and conclusive reports as they help you see how live chat pays for itself.

Reason 3: THE CUSTOMERS WILL STAY.

Live chat keeps your bounce rate to a minimum. Bounce rates measure how fast customers leave. It’s the number representing the percentage of customers who click x instead of exploring your site and getting to know your products. When you have live chat, it’s instant engagement. Would they leave just like that if there was a person in front of them offering assistance? It’s the same thing with live chat. Through the ways live chat gets the attention of visitors–prompts and pop-ups–they are directed to the representative.

Customers appreciate the engagement. Through this method, there is a higher chance that customers are enjoined to get to know more about your product and you are given the chance to clear any doubts they might have had.

Reason 4: IT SAVES YOU MONEY.

Customer service probably takes up a significant chunk of your operating expenses. Having live chat support significantly reduces the cost of providing support to your clients. Instead of contracting a call center or having an elaborate help desk system in tow, live chat provides you with a more cost-effective and efficient means of addressing issues.

It also reduces your human resource expense. When you hire someone for the dedicated job of answering phone calls, they are only able to address one customer at a time. With almost all people savvy in handling multiple conversations in chat, your live chat agents are sure to be competent in talking to multiple customers simultaneously. You can even spread the work per department to improve quality of service and also reduce costs further.

However, the security of their operation processes, customer information, and other sensitive data are always areas of concern for enterprises. Businesses should enlist the services of a provider which can ensure top-notch information protection, ability to block potentially harmful IP addresses like hackers and spammers, and 24/7 support.

Reason 5: LIVE CHAT HELPS IMPROVE YOUR PRODUCT AND WEBSITE.

Feedback. So much is spent on conducting focus group studies and elaborate surveys. You even find methods of funneling your customers into answering the online surveys you provide before and aftersales. E-commerce has outgrown these approaches.

Having an actual person initiate a chat with your clients gives you a higher rate of response through friendly conversation. Not only do you keep your customer in your site, you also gather detailed customer feedback which are considered gold bars in the field of business.

Use the information you gather to improve your product and the way you approach business.

Remember, repeat customers are the lifeblood of successful businesses. Customer service and engagement are the guided arrows that hit this target. Live chat support gives you an edge over your competitors and also keeps your customers happy. Isn’t that a worthy investment in your book?

The Human Element of Live Chat Reporting

The power of live chat reporting is greatly diminished if it is not approached with the right mindset.

The power of live chat reporting is greatly diminished if it is not approached with the right mindset.
The power of live chat reporting is greatly diminished if it is not approached with the right mindset.

We’ve talked about reports on this blog before, but one thing we haven’t talked about is the human element of live chat reporting.

Live Chat Reporting is Nothing Without Willingness to Change

Last month, Christopher Bucholtz wrote a succinct article about the human element of performance management, called “Big Data Drives Change if You’re Ready to Be Driven.” In the article, he cites an example from his own professional life: telecom companies have had data that could support retention efforts for decades now, but have not had sufficient motivation to use that data to improve retention (the industry was myopically focused on acquisition, even at the multi-million dollar expense of poor retention).

Even if you’ve mastered data collection, there’s still the “actionable” component to it – the data needs to tell you what you need to know to make a decision sure, but you also need to be ready to make that decision.

Perverse Incentives in Live Chat Reporting – The Wrong Decision

Live chat reporting, like any reporting can start off as an attempt to capture something meaningful but end up being a self-defeating administrative burden. You may have had to deal with this yourself at some point in your professional career – reporting that must be done but which is built off of highly questionable data.

Perverse incentives are well-intentioned rules that actually encourage people to “game” the system, because things have been structured in a way to reward or punish those people based on the data. For instance, if you promote or fire customer service staff based on the volume of cases they work in a given day or week, you are going to have customers who do not get the full time and attention that perhaps they need. Your reporting has informed your staff that it is more important to their livelihood that they do the job quickly rather than that they do it well. Similarly, if you reward/punish staff based on customer satisfaction scores, you’re going to have customer service staff spending more time with each customer, giving more discounts, etc.

The Right Attitude is Everything in Live Chat Reporting

The intention with which you approach live chat reporting will to a lesser or greater extent determine the impact of your live chat reporting. If you aren’t actively looking to improve based on the data, evaluating and re-evaluating what you are doing vs. the impact you’re having and adjusting accordingly, the data isn’t going to leap off the page and into your office and do it for you. And even if you are looking to make a difference, actively, be aware of what structures you’re putting in place and how that might actually negatively impact performance.

Create the Best Chat Experience With These 3 Tips

Live chat is a valuable channel for customer service – but how do you guarantee the best chat experience? Understand your customers!

Live chat is a valuable channel for customer service – but how do you guarantee the best chat experience? Understand your customers!
Live chat is a valuable channel for customer service – but how do you guarantee the best chat experience? Understand your customers!

If you’ve hopped on board the omni-channel customer service bus and have integrated real-time chat into your customer service quiver – hats off to you.

Chat software is in high demand by customers these days, as more people seek help directly online or wish to ask questions as they’re browsing a website. In fact, a recent study found that live chat customer satisfaction rates are 73% — the highest of any customer service channel, beating out email (61%) and phone (44%).

The next step, now that you’ve integrated business chat software into your customer journey workflow, is to ensure that your customers receive the best possible experience when using live help. Follow these three tips to exceed customer expectations, and be prepared for some soaring CSAT rates!

Best chat experience tip #1: Get to know your customers

If we’re speaking face-to-face with a customer, automatically, we’ll adjust our type of speech, level of jargon used, and even amount of slang. For example, if a 25 year-old customer service rep is helping out a 20-something customer, the rep will try to build rapport by using common language that’s appropriate for the Millennial generation. Conversely, if the same rep is speaking to a customer in his 60s, the rep will similarly adjust her speech to be more appropriate for her customer.

We do this automatically throughout our professional and personal interactions, and often, we don’t even realize we do it. Consider, however, that with live chat (and any online customer service platform), we don’t have the same luxury of knowing the customer’s age, background, or even geography. In fact, over live chat, you may not understand your customer demographic at all, and the language you use on your website, and that your customer service reps use, could unknowingly be turning away (or simply not resonate with) your customer base. A strategic move, therefore, is to invest in a quantitative research study that gives you segmented customer information. Once you understand the basics of your demographic, you’ll be able to model your branding and customer service training appropriately, based on your average customer profile.

Best chat experience tip #2: Understand what your customers really want

Numbers will tell you one aspect about your customers (a very crucial aspect), but numbers alone don’t give you the complete picture. To really tap into customer insights (and consequently be able to better address customer concerns through live help software and online platforms), you need to discern what it is that your customers actually want from your company, your products, and your service. See, in business, we all have blind spots, and often what we think our customers want isn’t necessarily the case. This is where bringing in a third-party objective researcher to conduct in-depth interviews with your customers can be truly transformative. In-house marketing research, unfortunately, doesn’t always show us our own blind spots, however talented our own researchers may be. The beauty of interview-based research (qualitative research) is that it helps us really understand how customers perceive a product, how they use it, and how they wish to interact with customer service.

Best chat experience tip #3: Invest in live chat training

Finally, to offer the best possible chat experience, invest in customer service training for your whole team. Even though “chat” as a tech support or customer support medium may seem basic, there is a methodology and some core training principles to ensure it works effectively. Empower your agents to diagnose customer issues, understand what the customer is asking, and respond appropriately – a solid training course will give your team the confidence they need to help customers.

Happy live chatting!

Why Marketing Wants Customer Service Using Live Help (Hint: Customer Experience)

You know your customer is upset when they take the time to carve their complaint into stone (or clay). Live help makes it much easier for customers to engage you for support.

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You know your customer is upset when they take the time to carve their complaint into stone (or clay). Live help makes it much easier for customers to engage you for support.

Live help could have saved the Mesopotamians a lot of trouble. Last week, Shep Hyken addressed what is possibly the oldest customer service complaint (dated to 18thc BC).

In the complaint, the buyer notes that his messengers had to go through “enemy territory” to engage the seller about a product quality issue – an issue which apparently still went unresolved at the time of the writing (inscribing?). To follow up a bungled order with a poorly handled customer service interaction is necessarily going to result in a negative customer experience.

The word of mouth resulting from this negative customer experience has now spanned nearly 4 millennia. Though that is a tongue-in-cheek thing to say, it does have a measure of truth to it; Marketing does have a very real stake in customer service- and implementing live help software is an important step in the right direction.

Live Help Customer Service as Marketing

Between American Express/ebiquity and SAP, there are many companies that have incorporated customer service into their marketing strategies. Understandably so as well – for companies concerned with revenue growth (who isn’t?), superior customer service can be the difference between upselling and losing customers (check out the stats in this article). Mercedes Benz adheres to this trend as well, citing social media as the primary motivator for their change.

Live help provides an accessible, convenient way for your customers to engage your customer service team (no need to go through a Mesopotamian war zone!). With premade messages, live help software equips your customer service team to provide a response that is more immediate and more likely to result in first contact resolution. Making customer service as effortless and helpful to your customers as possible is the key to pushing them from satisfied to evangelizing.

Getting the Most out of Live Help Software

Live help software can do more than support first contact resolution. With proactive chat, you can reduce shopping cart abandonment (or exit rate on your site in general) by engaging customers who may have questions about your business before they disappear potentially forever. With live chat reporting, you can help your team continually improve their engagements with customers. With live chat integration, you can connect this data with your CRM, e-commerce platform, help desk software and/or other tools.
For more information about how live help can super-charge a marketing strategy built on customer experience, contact Velaro Live Chat here.