Who Benefits From Business Live Chat

Business live chat can never offer maximum ROI if its priorities are not set by the customers’ needs.

Business live chat can never offer maximum ROI if its priorities are not set by the customers’ needs.
Business live chat can never offer maximum ROI if its priorities are not set by the customers’ needs.

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!

If Your Live Chat Isn’t Integrated with Your CRM, You’re Doing It Wrong

While live chat is an amazing tool for interacting with potential and existing customers alike, unless your live chat system is properly integrated with your CRM software, you’re missing out.

While live chat is an amazing tool for interacting with potential and existing customers alike, unless your live chat system is properly integrated with your CRM software, you’re missing out.

Here are four ways live chat CRM integration can improve your business’ efficiency:

1. Create New Leads & Contacts Automatically

Every single consumer your chat operators come in contact with on a daily basis is a potential lead for your business. So why would you want that crucial lead data to be trapped inside your live chat system?

By integrating your live chat software with your CRM, vital data such as contact information can be used to create new leads and contact records, allowing your sales team to give them the proper attention required.

2. Archive Chat Transcripts

Just as you would want to capture contact information from your live chat software and pass it through as a new lead record in your CRM system, the same can be said for chat transcripts.

By integrating your live chat system with your CRM, chat logs can be stored and used by your sales team to make better decisions and improve interactions. By knowing more about the lead based on chat interactions, your sales efforts can become more personalized and useful to your potential customers.

3. Interact With Chat Leads Directly From CRM

What this all boils down to is the ability for sales people to interact with chat leads directly from within the CRM in which they spend most of their time. Not only are the contacts created in the CRM for them to follow up with, but any chat interactions that had taken place are stored there.

This allows your sales team to act more efficiently and effectively, without having to hunt for the information they need. As a result, customers get the answers they’re looking for even more quickly.

4. Improve the Overall Customer Experience

Integrating your CRM with your live chat software can improve the user experience for existing customers as well as potential leads. Having a history of an individual’s chats with the company, their recent purchases, and account information can expedite troubleshooting and problem solving, which is especially important when a customer is frustrated or dissatisfied. Addressing issues quickly and deftly can boost satisfaction and improve retention rates, saving your firm money and protecting its customer base

Regardless of what CRM your firm uses, choosing a live chat vendor that doesn’t allow for integration between the two may be holding your company back.

To learn more about how Velaro live chat can integrate with your CRM and other tools,click here.

Live Chat for Millennials

Millennials expect a human connection in their live chat interactions moreso than other age groups.

Millennials expect a human connection in their live chat interactions moreso than other age groups.
Millennials expect a human connection in their live chat interactions moreso than other age groups.

In case you’ve missed it, North America is being overrun by the millennial generation.

Millennials have now surpassed baby boomers in the workforce, with 53.5 million workers as compared to 44.6 million baby boomer workers. It’s not like this happened overnight, although some companies may feel that way. While we’ve known about this seismic shift for some time, there have been a number of organizations that have remained resistant to change and haven’t evolved their policies or practices to reflect this new reality of younger workers and consumers. On the other hand, those companies that readied their operations by adding communication channels such as live chat and social media to tried-and-true contact centers, are able to deliver better customer experiences. What these companies have likely noticed over the years is that more of their customers prefer to connect with them via live chat over any other communication channel. However, simply offering live chat isn’t enough. Offering live help to millennial customers needs to be reflective of their expectations of this communication channel.

Currently, live chat is the preferred communication channel amongst millennials, and it is only expected to become more popular. In a report issued by Software Advice, it was found that 56 percent of millennials prefer live chat as opposed to the phone when communicating with a company, as compared to 27 percent of gen-X and baby boomers. What this conveys is that if your organization isn’t thinking about millennials when it comes to your live help/live chat, then you’re potentially missing out on a growing and influential demographic. Here are some tips to make sure your live chat channel is coordinated with millennial expectations.

  1. Quick Answers: millennials see the internet as a tool to deliver quick answers, and live chat is no different. The reasons they prefer live chat over other communications channels is its convenience and no hold times. Live chat agents are often engaged in simultaneous conversations, so pay attention to staffing levels so as to not delay the quick response that customers expect with this channel.
  2. More Complex Queries: millennials are more comfortable than other generations to ask more complex questions over live chat. This is an important shift in usage that companies should be aware of. In the past, most customers used live help to answer more basic/simple questions and turned to phone for more complex or complicated questions, particularly as it relates to financial issues. While this still holds true for gen-X and older, it is not the case for millennials. Additionally, this generation is more comfortable sharing personal details, which opens up the types of conversations that can happen over live chat. This may call for updating training for live chat agents as they may be faced with queries that they are less familiar in answering.
  3. Keep it Simple: when agents are too wordy or simply cut-and-paste lengthy portions of your website to answer questions, they stand to frustrate this generation. Live chat’s popularity is partly a result of its convenience and simplicity. Training agents in how to succinctly answer questions, even complex ones, in a clear, easy to understand manner is key.
  4. Casual, Yet Professional: Relying on too many canned scripts can be a major put-off for millennials. They want to feel a connection with whomever they are interacting with, regardless of the communication channel. There is a balance to be struck between casual and professional. They are not mutually exclusive, but here too, training should include how to strike the right tone over this medium.

While millennials aren’t the only users of live chat, they are the most frequent users. The above tips are relevant to all users, no matter which generation they belong to. As people’s lives become increasingly busy and fragmented, those companies that can deliver the types of experiences that customers expect—no matter which communication channel they’re using—will often be rewarded with happier, more loyal customers.

Live Chat Companies and Privacy Ethics

You should carefully consider your company’s stance on privacy and live chat software.

You should carefully consider your company’s stance on privacy and live chat software.
You should carefully consider your company’s stance on privacy and live chat software.

Earlier this week, Website Magazine included “Ghost Monitoring” as a feature proudly offered by a live chat software company.

Ghost monitoring is the name this live chat company gave to the ability for chat operators to see what users are typing before that visitor clicks “send.” This is a serious problem for four reasons.

End User Live Chat Concerns

First, from the end user perspective: this is invasive and unnecessary. As a site visitor, what benefit are you offering me by being able to read my messages before I hit “send”? Maybe faster service, but more likely it’s just going to lead to miscommunications as chat agents jump the gun in responding, thinking they fully understand what it is I’m attempting to convey to them.

Moreover, even if you as a company are transparent about the fact that your agents can see what visitors are typing, there will be visitors who do not read or do not fully appreciate what that statement means—and they will not be happy when they discover it for themselves (more on that in the “company” section below).

Rep or Agent Live Chat Concerns

Second, from the chat agent perspective, it becomes a guessing game about when to respond. Normally, a chat agent can wait for a full message to be sent, wait a moment to see if the visitor continues typing, and respond once the visitor is done. With the ability to see what the visitor is writing, it’s no longer as clear when the appropriate to respond should be.

Not only is this an issue in terms of misinterpreting an unfinished thought, but there’s also the etiquette of cutting a visitor off mid-thought or responding so quickly it seems like the agent wasn’t really listening to the visitor. Perhaps you still think that the speed is worth the trade-off. Read on.

Company or Business Live Chat Concerns

Third, from the perspective of the company using ghost monitoring in their business live chat, you are probably hoping to achieve one of two things:

  • faster response time (as live chat agents don’t have to wait for the visitor to hit “send” in order to begin formulating a reply) and/or
  • information the visitor would not normally divulge.

In the case of response time, you’re trading accuracy for speed (see miscommunications above). In the case of private/rare information, there’s a reason why the visitor isn’t sharing it with you, and for you to act on it is a bad faith gesture.

It’s worth noting that 75% of customers would stop using a company or product if they thought their privacy was (or even more crucially: even if they just suspected that it could be) violated. Why introduce that risk to your business? What are YOU really gaining from this information?

And that doesn’t even take into consideration the logistical aspects of how you would capture and act upon rare/private information, as unsent messages are not likely to be saved in a transcript the way sent messages would be.

Velaro Live Chat’s Concerns

Fourth, from our perspective at Velaro Live Chat, we believe that live chat is an important way to build a relationship with your customers. You undermine the value of live chat as a communication channel when you utilize or promote live chat tools that can be used in such invasive ways. Proponents of tools like ghost monitoring might argue: “But what do site visitors have to hide?” Probably nothing, but that’s not your business regardless of the answer.

Do you let visitors see what your live chat agents may be typing before they hit send? Prospective customers deserve the same courtesy.

You can read more about Velaro’s position on site visitor privacy and live chat software here

In Conclusion

This may sound like a live chat software company bashing another live chat software company because we’re competitors, but that’s not at all the case. I deliberately did not mention their name because that’s not the point. Velaro Live Chat could easily incorporate a feature like Ghost Monitoring if we thought it was something that would benefit our customers and/or their customers and prospects. But we don’t believe it represents a benefit to any party involved.

The point here is to incite critical thinking about what is and what is not ethical behavior in the business live chat space.