When Live Chat Won’t Help Poor Customer Service

Live chat can fix some common customer service issues your team may be having, but some issues it can only help, not fully transform.

There are two major customer service problems live chat can readily fix, and two major problems it can help with but not significantly impact on its own.

Live chat can fix some common customer service issues your team may be having, but some issues it can only help, not fully transform.
Live chat can fix some common customer service issues your team may be having, but some issues it can only help, not fully transform.

The four major customer service problems I’m referring to are:

  • Understaffed Teams –
    this impacts customer wait times and queue size, and is further aggravated by inefficient processes (e.g. documenting the details of an interaction in a CRM)
  • Stagnant CSAT/NPS (stagnant metrics in general) –
    CSAT/NPS doesn’t impact customer satisfaction so much as it is a reflection of it, but your response to CSAT/NPS/etc data will impact your ability to turn customers into brand advocates (there are other data-points you should be tracking that can impact NPS/CSAT, however, read more below)
  • Low Employee Morale –
    this impacts performance as well as retention, and can be caused by any number of factors, discussed below
  • Unprofessional Communication –
    this impacts the quality of customer interactions, and is as relevant to your marketing organization as it is to your customer service organization

For these latter two issues, it falls to management to be attentive to each rep’s direct interactions with customers.

How Live Chat Can Help with Understaffed Teams

The most obvious benefit of including live chat among your customer service channels is that customers can receive an immediate response to their inquiries. It’s significantly easier to achieve this with live chat than with more traditional mediums (e.g. phone) because customer service reps can manage multiple chats simultaneously, with each customer perceiving little to no delay. Additionally, by looking at trend data, you can easily forecast by time of day and time of year how many live chat agents you’re likely to need to schedule to adequately cover the volume of customer service inquiries you’re likely to receive.

Less obviously, live chat can also help save time with case logging and with future customer interactions. By utilizing a live chat integration, your team can easily attach transcripts to new or existing records in your help desk software or CRM. This saves time both on the wrap-up/documentation end of your current interaction and on the research/information-gathering phase of future interactions. Less time spent in your CRM means more time spent engaging your customers and prospective customers.

The limitation here is that even when using live chat software to increase the total volume of inquiries your customer service team can manage, there is still a limit- you can still be understaffed while using live chat. Typically, paying attention to your trend data to create accurate staffing forecasts will serve as sufficient prevention for this.

How Live Chat Can Help with Stagnant Metrics (e.g. NPS, CSAT)

While you can collect post-interaction surveys in any customer service channel, live chat is particularly well-suited to collecting more granular data and positively improving interactions with customers. I’ll have some great examples to share in a few weeks, but for now and more generally, live chat’s ability to easily collect and report meaningfully on agent-level, team-level, and organization-level data makes it the easiest channel to use to fuel your efforts at continually improving the quality of your customer service. Read more about how live chat reporting can help you improve customer service here.

Moreover, even if you limit yourself to post-interaction surveys only, live chat can be more successful than other customer service channels at improving CSAT/NPS. Because the customer or prospective customer has been interacting with your representative via a chat window, they may already be in the mindset to complete a quick digital survey in that window about the experience they just had.

The more reliably you can collect this kind of customer feedback, the more confidently you can implement changes to improve the quality of the customer service you’re providing, and the sooner you can see the impact of those changes in the next reports of customer feedback data.

The limitation here is that collecting all the data in the world won’t help improve your metrics if you don’t implement changes in response to that data, and monitor the impact of those implemented changes. Live chat software can provide the necessary data, throughout the process, but it’s still your team’s responsibility to act upon that data in order to continually improve.

How Live Chat Can Help with (But Not Altogether Fix) Low Employee Morale

There are any number of causes for low employee morale: poor pay and/or benefits, insufficient or not sufficiently visible consequences for good/poor performance, inadequate opportunities for career advancement, poor company communication (so employees feel uninformed and perceive their company to be at best disorganized and at worst intentionally deceptive), unprofessional or unreasonable supervisors, etc.

You can find a list of common issues that lead to low employee morale here (explained through the framework of common tier one customer service job requirements).

These are issues for management to fix, however live chat can make the job somewhat easier. Live chat software is now able to facilitate professional development and feedback from supervisors or team leads to employees.

How Live Chat Can Help with (But Not Altogether Fix) Unprofessional Customer Service Communication

Your customer service team is the face of your company to customers and prospective customers. It’s critical from a marketing perspective as much as from a customer service perspective that your reps are faithfully representing the values of your company. Whether your definition of professionalism includes casual conversation or neutral but formal language, whether it includes transparency or withholds information until resolutions have been confirmed, you have guidelines you need your employees to follow.

Live chat scripts can certainly help here (they’re also a time-saver), but they can’t solve the problem for you on their own. Your staff need to know when to divert from the script- whether that’s editing the text of a pre-written message to better meet the current customer’s perspective, or writing something entirely fresh. For that reason, it’s important to make sure you’re hiring reps who already have that ability and/or training new reps to develop that ability. Don’t leave it to trial by fire or your customers (and as a result you) might get burned!


Your Reputation is at Stake – Here’s How Live Help Can Support You

Live help can address some common customer service problems before they even occur.

The Impact blog put out a great article earlier this month, “5 Dangerous Side Effects of Bad Customer Service” that touched on what constitutes bad customer service, what the consequences of bad customer service can include, and how you can prevent those consequences.

Live help can address some common customer service problems before they even occur.
Live help can address some common customer service problems before they even occur.

Their article focused on these consequences, but I’d like to focus on the prevention. As you can imagine, I view it as a live help issue.

You’ve probably come across some version of the following quote before: “Great customer service can overcome poor marketing, but it’s incredibly difficult (and expensive) to replace poor customer service with exceptional marketing.”

The Impact team included that quote as a reminder of the perspective companies should be taking regarding budgets for their customer service teams. Marketing can get expensive, and as important as customer service is, it can sometimes be forgotten that it’s often a cheaper marketing expense than typical marketing line items.

But if you’re reading this blog, you don’t need to be sold on the importance of customer service, so I’ll just skip to the “tell me how to do it” part.

“The best way to solve bad customer service is to prevent it, but the second best way is to get it corrected before it gets out of hand.”

Impact offered the following: “The best way to solve bad customer service is to prevent it, but the second best way is to get it corrected before it gets out of hand.” I’d rephrase that as: “Fix customer service problems as quickly as you can, ideally before they even become problems for your customers.”

What problems? Impact nailed the big ones:

  • Long wait times and response times
  • Poor attention to detail
  • Company reps with lack of experience and knowledge
  • Unprofessional and impersonal interactions
So How Can You Use Live Help to Fix Customer Service Problems?

Wait time and response time is obvious – live help empowers customer service teams to respond more quickly than traditional channels. This is because chat agents are able to effectively balance multiple conversations simultaneously.

Attention to detail and lack of experience/knowledge are onboarding and training issues. Live help can support you here by helping you identify what reps need training, and by providing you with the means by which to correct the rep’s deficiencies. This strengthens them both for your company’s immediate benefit and for each employee’s overall professional growth. Live help accomplishes this through customer feedback mechanisms, integrations with help desk and knowledgebase software, and the ability for managers to virtually “watch over a rep’s shoulder” and step in if necessary.

Unprofessional/impersonal interactions can sometimes be corrected with training as per directly above, but sometimes it’s not a training issue – sometimes a rep is just not well-suited to a customer service position. Unfortunately, there’s not much live help can do for you in that situation. However, empowering your chat agents to personalize the pre-written chat messages you have saved for their quick use can be a great step towards ensuring a balance of professionalism and personality in their interactions with customers.

ECommerce Live Chat Statistics — The Basics

In the ecommerce world, live chat supports increased conversions and superior customer service.

In the ecommerce world, live chat supports increased conversions and superior customer service.
In the ecommerce world, live chat supports increased conversions and superior customer service.

Live chat is non-negotiable for ecommerce sites. You may opt for fancier or more basic tools to do it, you may opt to only make it available certain hours or to fully staff it 24/7, you may opt to be proactive in inviting site visitors to chat or you might just sit back and let visitors click to chat – but you aren’t going to go without ecommerce live chat.

That’s because shopping cart abandonment is a killer, and repeat business is essential to growth. RJ Metrics reported last year that:

  1. growing 2.5x faster than peers in the first 6 months led to growing nearly 5x larger over 3 years
  2. leading ecommerce businesses generated most of their revenue at the $50MM level from returning customers, not from new customers
How Ecommerce Live Chat Can Help

The major causes of shopping cart abandonment include:

  1. Unexpected shipping charges
  2. Mandatory account creation
  3. Payment methods- either the visitor’s preferred one is not available or the visitor is not convinced of the security of the form used to process their payment
  4. Other questions that product pages and/or your site in general don’t answer on their own
  5. The customer is still just browsing and had no actual intention of buying

Unless you’re prepared to eat the cost of shipping or trade business now for the ability to market for repeat business later, you need a salesman. Your live chat agents can engage site visitors about whatever the hold-up may be in the checkout process (any live chat product designed for ecommerce should be able to indicate when a visitor’s been stuck on a page for a while, or bouncing between the same few pages). Agents can also offer discounts and make exceptions from the listed prices and policies, facilitating the checkout process and creating a positive, memorable online shopping experience.

Why Use Live Chat Rather Than Pop-ups or Email?

As we’ve discussed on the blog before , the addition of live chat to a website typically causes a 20% increase in conversions.

For young people specifically, 60% prefer to have shopping questions answered via live chat than “traditional” mediums. This is likely due to the convenience, speed and human interaction it offers.

Live chat also provides better opportunities for optimization than pop-up forms or email. By comparing the results of individual agents and using segmentation/groups functionality for your visitors, you can develop a pretty clear picture of who is visiting your site and how to best engage them to secure the sale, then scale this knowledge across your live chat team.

Whether you run an ecommerce site or a contact center or online business, you can learn more about what to expect from your live chat team and ways you can go aboutcontinuously improving your live chat performance here .