Last month, Chris Cancialosi shared an example of how what is convenient for your customer service team is not always what’s convenient for your customer.
This applies to use of live chat as well – though live chat software may make things easier for you, if the way you use it doesn’t improve the experience of doing business with you for your customer, you may actually be shooting yourself in the foot.
Even if you’ve never had Chris’ experience, you’ve seen similar examples of companies that confuse what works for them with what works for their customers (sometimes to ridiculous extremes). IVR/VRU technology is a prime example of this.
Ironically enough, marketers are particularly guilty of it, too – using social media or “content marketing” (see point #2 here) to promote their businesses exclusively, rather than focusing first on using these channels to provide value to their customers (a marketer should know better!).
Most recently, we took a look at this on our own blog in the context of a live chat feature that at first glance seemed potentially useful to customer service reps, but in the bigger picture was more likely to be extremely problematic for the customer, the company and the live chat industry as a whole.
So, as we approach the holiday rush, when having a well-oiled live chat machine is most important, consider whether live chat is actually adding value to your customers and prospective customers, or whether it is just adding value to your business itself, without regard for the impact on your customers.
Here are 3 questions to help you accomplish just that.
Using Business Live Chat to Engage in Multiple Conversations Simultaneously
1) Trained live chat agents can field up to 4 customer inquiries simultaneously – this increases efficiency (and thereby reduces costs) for your business, but does it actually improve the service experience for your customers?
In our experience, the answer is yes, as the same efficiency on your end translates into reduced wait time on the customer’s end – however you should not assume you will see the same results.
Or, even if you do see the same results in terms of wait time, what about customer satisfaction?
Perhaps your agents need to aim for a 3:1 ratio (rather than 4:1) to ensure they can give each customer the level of attention they need for it to be a high-quality interaction with your business.
Pay attention to wait time, first contact resolution, and customer satisfaction data- these are going to be your best indicators for honing in on which reps are doing live chat correctly and how you can replicate their successes across your entire customer service team.
Including Pre-made Messages in Your Live Chat Conversations
2) Premade messages make it easier for your live chat agents to manage multiple conversations simultaneously and to improve resolution time for each individual customer interaction- but is it at the cost of personalized interaction? Are your agents putting your company’s best “face” forward?
One of the reasons why live chat has become such a popular customer service channel is that in the shift from telephone to email, the live interactivity aspect of customer service was lost.
Live chat can be very effective at bringing that engaging element back to your customer service efforts, however it depends on a few things.
If your scripts are not well-written and/or if your live chat agents do not have the autonomy (and skill) to personalize them to make their interactions with customers more authentic, premade messages could actually turn live chat conversations into a negative experience with your brand.
You can read more about writing good premade messages here.
It’s also worth noting that while customer service reps may be great on the phone, not everyone is the strongest writer. Be sure your reps are able to write intelligibly – though most live chat software includes some form of spell-check, that doesn’t always catch homonyms, confusing grammar, poor word choice, etc.
You don’t need professional writers, but you will undermine your goal of using live chat to make things easier for your customers if you don’t ensure some baseline level of proficiency with writing.
Writing for chat also comes with its own guidelines – read a bit about chat etiquette here.
Premade messages can be a major time-saver—but make sure, whether your team uses them or not, that what messages your live chat agents do send to site visitors clarify things rather than confuse them, and that overall, the chat feels like a conversation with a person.
Making Your Business Available via Live Chat
3) No matter what business you are in, from the perspective of your customers, the chief value of business live chat is the immediacy and ease with which they can get answers from your customer service team. Can your business deliver live chat in a way that fulfills that expectation?
Just like brands that can’t respond in a timely fashion to customer service issues may be doing themselves more harm than good by maintaining a social media presence, companies that include live chat on their website but do not staff it sufficiently or that poorly communicate lack of availability to chat risk similar damage to customer loyalty.
You should have no problem anticipating volume of chats based on time of day or time of year, by looking at historical live chat usage data for your website. You should staff your live chat customer service team accordingly.
Similarly, if you do not plan to operate live chat on your website 24/7, you should note clearly when your chat is not available and have a visitor inquiry form ready to capture the visitor’s request or question.
The only real surprise situation should be when you get a sudden surge of chat activity, occupying all of your agents and filling the queue. Even then, your live chat software should allow you put a different message up on the “click to chat” button, noting that there’s currently high volume or that no agent is available.
Otherwise, the disconnect between your visitors’ expectations for live chat and the reality you’re delivering could damage your company’s credibility across the board.
As the holiday season draws near, creating the kind of customer experience that encourages repeat business is never more important!