3 Live Chat Tips to Improve Your Online Customer Support

As more customers turn to online shopping, occasionally reviewing and refreshing your online customer support practices is a good idea.

As more customers turn to online shopping, occasionally reviewing and refreshing your online customer support practices is a good idea.

Live chat software can help you improve customer satisfaction, by reducing wait times and personalizing interactions with your customers, for instance.
Live chat software can help you improve customer satisfaction, by reducing wait times and personalizing interactions with your customers, for instance.

First and foremost in delivering online customer service is live chat software. Most companies offer this feature on their website, and while there is growing awareness about effective approaches to this powerful tool, many companies are still missing some low-hanging fruit in regards to making the most of this software.

Many purchases are made impulsively, and online shopping makes impulsive purchases even easier—unless you don’t have live chat. When customers are ready to hit the “buy” button, it’s a major faux pas to require them to either pick up the phone or wait a long time for an e-mail response to any query they may have before committing to a purchase. Offering live chat software—and staffing it 24/7—is the only way to make customer service real time.

In a report by BI Intelligence, it was found that in 2013 up to 74% of online shopping carts were abandoned, totaling more than $4 billion in product abandonment! Of course there are a number of factors that play into this, but it is also a known fact that live chat software helps reduce abandonment rates. In a survey conducted by Forrester Research it was revealed that “Around 44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a Web site can offer.”

Assuming you are already utilizing live chat on your website, here are three best-practice tips to ensure your agents are maximizing the features of live chat that customers expect.

  1. Mind your manners. Not being able to hear a customer’s voice, nor see them in person automatically makes communicating with live chat very different than phone or in-person conversations. Live chat conversations need to be conducted respectfully and should match the tone of your company website. If your product/service is more informal, then live chat agents should be licensed to chat with customers in a less formal manner. On the other hand, if you’re offering professional services or higher end products, then the conversation should be more polished and refined.
  2. Quick response time. Live chat agents are often managing multiple conversations simultaneously. If an agent is unable to respond to a customer query right away, then the customer needs to be alerted that the agent will be with them shortly and they can expect to wait approximately X-number of minutes. Remember, the longer a customer is asked to wait, the more likely they’ll abandon the conversation, and potentially a sale.
  3. Personalized responses. Top agents know how to personally engage with customers and balance canned and free-form responses. Agents that provide numerous back-and-forth exchanges, and directly answer questions, will see better results than agents who are vague or don’t satisfactorily answer a customer’s question. Humanizing the conversation and personally connecting with the customer goes a long way.

There is a lot of opportunity for businesses to capture sales online. The numbers already show that customers are engaging with online retailers and are ready to part with billions of dollars. The ball is in the retailer’s court for capturing these sales. Live chat software, coupled with training that is specific to live chat agents, is a sure way to convert potential sales into actual sales.

Private: Mobile Commerce and Mobile Chat

Find below some of the most basic steps you can take to better capture mobile commerce revenue. With the holidays only a dozen weeks away, it may be time to consider making some changes to your site in advance of the 2015 rush.

Mobile chat is one of four key tactics to reduce shopping cart abandonment from mobile visitors.
Mobile chat is one of four key tactics to reduce shopping cart abandonment from mobile visitors.

It’s estimated that by the end of 2015, mobile transactions will account for 40% of ecommerce business.

By some estimates, this will meet or exceed $31 billion. Mobile devices already beat out desktop users for email opens, by more than 35 percentage points. And unless you’ve been stranded on a desert island (without Wi-Fi) for the past 6 months, you’re aware of the major shift Google implemented earlier this year to benefit mobile searchers.

No one would deny that mobile traffic is too relevant and lucrative an audience to ignore—but does your site reflect that? Find below some of the most basic steps you can take to better capture mobile commerce revenue. With the holidays only a dozen weeks away, it may be time to consider making some changes to your site in advance of the 2015 rush.

Mobile Chat and Other Anti-Abandonment Tactics

There are four primary tactics you can use to combat shopping cart abandonment from mobile users:

1) Mobile chat-
The first tactic for mitigating shopping cart abandonment is preventative. By engaging site visitors when they have a question or issue, you are not only more likely to shepherd the current purchase to completion, you are also more likely to leave a positive impression of exceptional customer service with the site visitor. This means you are not only securing revenue now but you’re also positioning yourself well to secure revenue from repeat business.

Live chat vs. mobile chat is primarily a difference on the back-end (technology), but there are some considerations that will impact you, and you should be aware of them.

Two elements that differentiate mobile chat from basic website live chat are device tracking and design. Device tracking occurs on your staff’s end. This is useful for reporting purposes (data-driven decision-making is key!), but it is also helpful for site visitors that need to be talked through use of your website. Your mobile site layout is likely significantly different from how it would appear on a desktop device.

Design is primarily relevant on the user’s/visitor’s end. The size, spacing and placement of your chat window (and user interface within the window) needs to keep the smartphone-sized and finger-activated screen of mobile users in mind (more on this under UX below).

Contact a member of the Velaro Live Chat team to learn more about mobile chat here.

2) Modal (pop-up) dialogs-
Pop-ups are often deployed on sites as a last line of defense to reclaim a faltering purchase or even just capture the visitor’s contact information in the hopes of attracting their business via marketing efforts at some point in the future. UX Magazine had a pretty good article on this earlier this year– they can be particularly annoying to mobile visitors, so be thoughtful in your use of them.

3) Follow-up email (aka abandonment recovery email)-
This is the most common approach to attempting to reclaim lost revenue from an abandoned shopping cart. If an email address is captured during the session, a message can go out a day later (or whenever) with a discount offer. Shoppers have caught wise to this tactic however (note the date of the article, they are well aware of it these days). That having been said, ultimately if it results in them making a purchase from your online store at a price you were ready to offer them anyway, it’s probably not a bad tactic to employ.

4) Remarketing ads-
The final tactic involves placing cookies on your visitor’s device based on key product or pricing pages they viewed during their mobile session. Based on what they looked at, they’ll see ads through Google, Facebook, and/or other ad networks (depending on how you’ve set up your remarketing). This can have a creepy “big brother is watching” effect, but it can be very effective (stats below are for ecommerce in general, not mobile specifically).

remarketing-300x267

(image taken from this infographic: http://3sixtyinteractive.com/2015/07/29/understanding-the-online-abandoned-shopping-cart-infographic/)

If you want more information about services you can use for this, Stephen Walsh has a helpful post on the KISSmetrics blog about it.

User Experience (UX) for Mobile Visitors

None of the above tactics will be relevant however if your site visitors leave immediately in disgust at how awful/ugly/slow your site is.

30% of mobile shoppers abandon the transaction if the site is not optimized for mobile. 57% will do the same if they have to wait as briefly as 3 seconds for a page to load.

And as for apps – unless you’re getting a great tradeoff by forcing shoppers to use them, they are to be avoided. Mobile shoppers view downloading an app to be an unnecessary barrier and therefore will likely drive potential revenue away if it seems to be the only way to do business with you.

Ecommerce Content Marketing Tailored to Mobile Traffic

OK but let’s say you aren’t even struggling with any of the above problems (yet), because you’re not getting a whole lot of mobile traffic in the first place. Here is some very general info to equip you to better tailor your ecommerce content marketing for mobile users.

Demographics for mobile visitors might not be what you’d guess. Though the largest group is 18-34, one in four are over 55. Men in the 18-34 age group have expressed a strong preference (40%) for purchasing everything online if possible (33% of women in this age group said the same, and less than 30% of either 35-64 group reported this- see bar graph here, around fact #28). Keep this in mind when you are coming up with your buyer personas and developing your ecommerce content marketing!

Also keep in mind the user is viewing the product on their phone, so more concise, targeted descriptions will be an asset here. Additionally, if you can leverage local search terms for your content, you should: 78% of searches for local business information using a mobile device result in a purchase (as compared to 61% from desktop and 64% from tablet).

Implementing Mobile Chat

Hopefully this information has been helpful for accommodating mobile visitors to your online business. If you have questions about mobile chat in particular (for instance what data you are able to collect from mobile visitors, or how much time you’ll need to implement it comfortably before the holiday rush), please reach out to a member of the Velaro Live Chat team.