Which is Better for Customer Service, Pop-Ups or Embedded Live-Chat Screens

Live chat has withstood the test of time and is a preferred communication channel for customers, particularly when making purchase decisions.

Live-chat is a no-brainer for improving customer service, but how is it best offered?
Live-chat is a no-brainer for improving customer service, but how is it best offered?

Live chat has withstood the test of time and is a preferred communication channel for customers, particularly when making purchase decisions.

Regardless of the industry, most organizations have found live-chat to be an important way to enhance customer service experiences. Live-chat, like most technology, has continued to evolve and become more widely accepted and commonplace on most retailers websites. While there is no doubt that live-chat is one of the more preferred communication channels for customers, it isn’t as simple as installing live-chat on your website and calling it a day. Some of the benefits of live-chat are that it can enhance customer service and yield more conversions to sales, but which is better for customer service? Pop-up or embedded live-chat screens, or both?

If you’ve spent any time at all on any website, then you’ve likely encountered a pop-up screen that disrupts your browsing. Depending on what is popping up on the screen, this can be a welcome invitation or a really annoying distraction. If your goal is to enhance the customer experience through live-chat then you’ll want to consider how your customers use your website before making a decision on how to engage your customers with live-chat.

Let’s explore some of the pros and cons of pop-ups and embedded live-chat screens so you can determine what’s best for your customers.

Pop-Ups

The name says it all. Pop-up screens are designed to “pop up” when a customer is viewing your website. Pop-ups can take many forms, but in the case of live-chat, they are often invitations to initiate a live-chat conversation. As mentioned before, if not thought through and strategically timed, these pop-ups can be more annoying than helpful.

While some customers will find pop-up screens obnoxious no matter what, others will gladly accept the invitation to engage with live-help. To get the most out of a pop-up screen, you’ll want to assess how customers spend time on your site. Some areas where pop-up invitations to live chat are useful are:

  • Shopping Carts: pay close attention to check-out pages and shopping cart abandonment statistics. Timing a pop-up to appear when customers are most likely to abandon their shopping cart, or bail on filling in the necessary details to finalize a sale is a prime time to proactively engage with the customer.
  • Self-help and informational section: when customers spend time on your informational pages, they are likely to appreciate the invitation to get more help from a live-help agent.

Be mindful that if you are inundating your customer with pop-up invitations the moment they land on one of your pages, or you send repeated requests to chat, you’ll likely end up with a perturbed customer!

Embedded Chat Window

With embedded chat, it is incumbent upon the customer to initiate a live-help conversation. This type of window is similar to Facebook chat, which most consumers are familiar with. Embedded live help windows give the user the option to initiate a conversation from any page. Embedded chat windows are passive and one way to direct a customer’s attention to your live help button is through a photo of an agent or a highlighted box that stands out from the rest of the page content. Since most users are familiar with live-help, they expect this service to be available on your website. Keep in mind that customers expect service 24/7 and if your live help isn’t available around the clock you’ll want to communicate that up front.

When it comes to delivering exceptional customer experiences through live help, strategically using both pop-up and embedded live chat windows can be the best bet. Having live chat embedded throughout your site so users can reach out when they need to should be a given, but for added value, proactively engaging customers through pop-ups can lead to higher conversion rates. The bottom line is live chat is increasingly seen as essential to delivering customer service and with thoughtful use of embedded and pop-up windows, you can ensure your customers have easy access to your representatives at the right time.

Social “Buy” Buttons and Customer Engagement

Ecommerce live chat is great for customer engagement with site visitors who have a question or need some other assistance– but what about customers who just want to make a purchase and move on?

Customer engagement is being transformed by social media “buy” buttons and ecommerce live chat.
Customer engagement is being transformed by social media “buy” buttons and ecommerce live chat.

Ecommerce live chat is great for customer engagement with site visitors who have a question or need some other assistance– but what about customers who just want to make a purchase and move on?

Bridging the gap between the ready-to-purchase customer and the completed checkout may have just gotten a whole lot easier.

Now (or soon, in some cases) customers can purchase items directly from your ads or social media posts.

Feel free to skip the ‘quick history’ section immediately below if you’re just looking to know the “where” and don’t care about the “why.”

The Quick History of Customer Engagement via Mobile Ecommerce

For the curious, here’s a bit more background on the emerging social media “buy” button phenomenon.

Historically, ecommerce sites have strived to have their products show up at the top of search engine results, to make it as easy as possible for customers to complete a purchase on their site, and to capitalize on return business by capturing consumer information for email marketing purposes (and/or more recently, using cookies to deliver retargeted ads). Obviously evolving Google algorithms have complicated search result rankings, shopping cart abandonment is a persistent pain (making ecommerce live chat a popular solution), and balancing marketing form completion with actual purchase completion remains a delicate balance to strike.

These issues have been complicated by smartphones. Since the inception of the smartphone, ecommerce has been struggling to understand, catch up with, and capitalize on mobile consumer behavior.

But what if all your (would-be) customers had to do was click a button while logged in to their social media account? You would have the information you want about who is purchasing what, which can help inform your marketing efforts. Your customers would have the easiest check-out process available, assuming they’re relatively active on social media.

The only real challenge remaining would be getting in front of them in the first place. Read more about where and how to do that via the various social media channels below.

Indeed, the introduction of social “buy” buttons, one firm estimates, when coupled with more widespread public Wi-Fi, will lead to an increase of more than 17% in ecommerce sales this year alone.

So how do you get your piece of this anticipated 17% growth? Educate yourself on the following social networks’ “buy” buttons.

Pinterest

This image-based social network introduced “Buy It” pins last month. While already a valuable source of traffic to your site (clickable product images made internet “window shopping” easy, much of which turned into actual purchases), it will be interesting to see how a more direct link to purchasing impacts the channel.

Here are some tips for setting up Pinterest Buy buttons in Shopify.

Instagram

From an ecommerce perspective, Instagram is the less attractive of the two visual discovery platforms. Additionally, its “Shop Now” button functionality—also introduced broadly last month (though first tests go back as far as March) —falls somewhat shy of one-click purchasing.

However, that’s deliberate. Instagram’s Global Head of Business and Brand Development said: “We’re not announcing in-app commerce today…” but also: “We want to help reduce the friction from the point of inspiration to transaction.”

Twitter

Twitter’s “Buy” button is actually still not broadly available. It’s been teased since late last year, but has only been accessible to a few companies.

“Lead generation cards” have been available since 2013, but one-click purchasing (or nearly one-click purchasing) is hugely different from filling out a marketing form that is rarely even connected with an immediate purchase at all.

Facebook

Facebook, like Twitter, is a social media network that really needs no introduction. And, like Twitter, it’s been doing a slow transition to a “shopping section” that also has not yet reached 100% availability.

It is worth noting that peer-to-peer payments are generally available, and have been since March.

Google

Though not exactly a social network, Google dominates the search engine world, both in terms of desktop searches and mobile searches—and that makes the introduction of“Purchases on Google” (announced earlier this month) incredibly impactful.

Like Twitter and Facebook, Google is selectively making this feature available, though it is expected to be 100% available by the end of the year, or early next year. It’s important to note that this will allow retailers to include buy buttons in their promoted ads, not merely a “Shop on Google” carousel at the top of search engine result pages.

To get a sense for what this might feel like from a user perspective, just do some travel-based searches in Google and see what happens.

Channel-Agnostic Solutions for Ecommerce Customer Engagement

Some vendors have already emerged who are looking to disrupt the one-click purchase market before it even fully matures. One such solution, Two Tap, connects retailers and publishers through a streamlined “universal shopping cart” – making affiliate ecommerce even easier. This is not the same thing as one-click purchasing but it does represent a similarly innovative attempt to reduce the number of steps from product discovery to completed purchase.

Don’t let PayPal fall off your radar either. If they follow-through on their purported mobile-first strategy, they could continue to be a common choice by online shoppers.

What’s Next for Customer Engagement?

It’s too early to tell what specific markets these new technologies will get the most traction with (use of PayPal varies immensely by industry, for instance) – issues of security, privacy, and even awareness of the functionality will also pose real obstacles to widespread adoption.

I would suggest getting started with Pinterest and Instagram, as those are presently available to all businesses, and just keep an eye open for when Twitter, Facebook and Google offer general availability with their various “buy” button solutions (feel free to stop by the Velaro Live Chat blog again, we’ll definitely be keeping our own blog readers informed).

All That’s Great – But What About Customer Engagement on My Own Site?

If you’d like to learn more about how ecommerce live chat can help reduce shopping cart abandonment on your ecommerce site, just ask one of our live chat agents: click here.

How to Improve the Online Customer Experience

Customers are flocking to online channels for support and product help.

Online customer experience can have major impacts on customer loyalty.
Online customer experience can have major impacts on customer loyalty.

Customers are flocking to online channels for support and product help.

In fact, 60% of customers now turn to the web first, before they ever contact support via the phone. Once on a company’s site, 63% of online customers say they would return to a website if the site offers live chat. In other words, customers are realizing the amazing efficiency that live chat offers, and they’re rewarding companies that offer easy, online customer support with agents readily available through live chat.

If you’re looking to improve the online customer experience, by offering live chat, here are some tried-and-true tips.

Improve the online customer experience: Proactively seek customer opinions

Here’s a scary statistic for those of us in customer service: A typical company only hears from 4% of dissatisfied customers. Considering that 91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with a company again, you can see how crucial it is to understand your customers’ opinions about your service and brand.

Surveys are prolific – but surveys don’t tell you the whole story. Customers, if they even fill out a survey, may rush through the answers, or not give you the full story. Furthermore, surveys are limited in the information you can glean from customers.

In lieu of relying on surveys, to really understand how your customers interpret the experience of interacting with your brand, conduct qualitative research with your customers. With qualitative research, an experienced researcher will take your customers through strategic questions that will give you far deeper insights than surveys alone. You’ll learn where customers are getting frustrated, what aspects they like about your online customer service, and learn how they navigate your channels.

Improve the online customer experience: Make “Amazing Service!” your brand

Customers pay attention to how they’re treated, and, in fact, people are more concerned about great service than they are about a great product. Fifty-nine percent of customers will try a new brand if they think it will offer a better service experience. Does your brand convey that you offer amazing service? (And you MUST deliver if you’re going to brand it.) People gravitate toward service-awesome brands. Look at Zappos. Nordstrom. Rackspace. Customer service drives their brand. Advertise and brand your online customer experience – customers will notice.

Improve the online customer experience: Train your online customer service agents

Once customers are on your site seeking support, when your “Live Chat” pops up, are your agents ready and able to answer customer questions? Surveys show that customers say agents fail to answer questions 50% of the time. Yikes. How your agents answer questions, help guide customers, and listen to customers’ concerns – through live chat – is a huge part of the takeaway that customers have from your online customer experience.

You can’t afford not to perfect the online customer experience

Customers today are picky, and they have so many choices when it comes to finding companies that go above-and-beyond with their online support. How does your online process work? Do you have a robust live chat program? Are your agents well-trained? Do you conduct frequent qualitative research with your customers to understand theircustomer journey? Spend time and resources investing in the online customer experience – your customers will reward you with returned business and their loyalty.

Fostering the Right Customer Service Skills for Live Chat

Developing customer service skills is important for any customer support or customer experience team – but what skills are specific to success with live chat?

Quality use of live chat demands its own set of additional customer service skills.
Quality use of live chat demands its own set of additional customer service skills.

Developing customer service skills is important for any customer support or customer experience team – but what skills are specific to success with live chat?

General skills might include patience, courtesy, product/service knowledge, and the ability to understand and articulate information using a variety of phrasing, as appropriate to the individual customer’s preferred nomenclature.

Customer service skills specifically valuable for staff working live chat should include time management, speedy typing without errors, familiarity with what can be found where on your website, and an attention to language for possible alternative interpretations of tone.

Getting Live Chat Customer Service Skills Right from Day One

Your profitability depends on cultivating delighted customers—the sooner you can align your customer service processes to achieve this, the more successful you’ll ultimately be. Live chat will definitely help with initial customer service response time, but ultimately your team’s customer service skills will determine whether a customer’s overall experience is exceptional or mediocre at best.

Though every company wants to profit from retaining happy customers – it’s particularly important for SaaS vendors and ecommerce sites (read more here). In the case of SaaS companies, their business model is built on the premise of recurring revenue. In the case of ecommerce businesses, longer-term customers are more likely to spend more. Coupled with the fact that research shows that the first 3 years of revenue from an ecommerce site can be a critical predictor for the overall profitability of that site, retaining your early customers is essential.

Live chat brings efficiency to your customer service organization, allowing a single representative to serve up to four customers simultaneously. While businesses love this efficiency and customers love the immediate access to assistance, if the only value your customer service team has to offer is initial response time, you’re in trouble. Slow response time can be a non-starter, but fast response time is not sufficient on its own.

Why Live Chat Customer Service Skills Matter

As mentioned above, time management, fast and accurate typing, familiarity with your business’ website, and tone are four key customer service skills you’ll want to help your live chat reps develop. While other skills may be relevant to your specific business as well, these four are more or less universal.

  1. Time Management – of the multiple customers the rep is engaging via live chat simultaneously, who needs the most immediate response? Has the conversation reached a point close enough to resolution that the rep can take on one of the customers waiting in the queue?
  2. Fast, Accurate Typing – though your reps should make good use of (and help inform) pre-made messages, those won’t (and shouldn’t) be exhaustive of every response your reps will need to offer. Moreover, you might consider empowering your reps to personalize these premade messages somewhat, so the customer feels like they are working with a real person – fast typing, without typos, is relevant for personalization as well.
  3. Website Familiarity – many requests your customers will ask of your live chat team are not quick or premade responses but could be easily answered by directing the customer to a relevant page on your website (e.g. return policy, pricing page, etc.). By continuing to engage the customer via live chat (“do you have any further questions I can help you with?”) after directing them to the relevant URL, you are ensuring timely, professional service.
  4. Tone – tone is not as easily conveyed through fast-paced, digital communication as it is through phone or email, so reps will need to be mindful of alternative ways their own responses might be read. The same is true for interpreting a customer’s tone correctly – this can be particularly useful for understanding when and how to defuse a situation.

Experience Live Chat Customer Service Skills in Action

Interesting in learning more about live chat? Check out our team’s live chat customer service skills by clicking here.